I am a musicologist and librarian-archivist. I teach courses on music history, film music, and music pedagogy at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Before joining CUHK, I was employed by Naxos International, the University of Hong Kong, McGill University, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Much of my work concerns music and migration, especially transatlantic migration in the nineteenth century. As a film music scholar, I am interested in how composers adapt the conventions of the past, and how subtexts can be created through diegetic music.


Ph.D in musicology (University of Hong Kong)

MLIS (McGill University)

MA in musicology (University of Victoria — Canada)

BFA (Concordia University — Canada)



Forthcoming: Empire Minstrels: James Unsworth Jr. (1835-1875), Immigration, Politics, and Transatlantic Culture: (Cork University Press, 2020)

Calixa Lavallée. L’oeuvre pour piano seul/The Complete Works for Solo Piano. Compiler and editor. Vancouver: The Avondale Press, 2016. 144 pp.

Anthems and Minstrel Shows: The Life and Times of Calixa Lavallée (1842-1891). Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2015. 523 pp.


Book chapters

“Empire, Nation, and Music: Canada’s ‘Dominion Songbook.’” In Over Here, Over There: Music and The First World War. pp. 174-98. Edited by Gayle Sherwood Magee, Christina Bashford, and William Brooks. Chicago and Bloomington: University of Illinois Press (October 2019).

“Adapting the Survey for a Changing Environment.” In Norton Guide to Teaching Music History. pp. 235-46. Edited by Matthew Balensuela, New York: W.W. Norton, 2019.

“Theory, Nationalism, and Music.” In Politsci’13: Political Science in the 21st Century: New Opportunities and Impasses / Theorizing and Experiencing Politics. pp. 206-213. Edited by E. Zeynep Güler. Istanbul, Turkey: Eastern Mediterranean Academic Research Center, 2014.

“London, New York and the Politics of Musical Theatre During the US Civil War.” In Londres – New York : échanges, influences et croisements dans les arts et la littérature. pp. 33-51. Eds. Claudine Armand, Pierre Degott, Jean-Philippe Héberlé. Nancy, France: Les Presses Universitaires de Nancy, 2012.

Peer-reviewed articles

“Music, Culture, and Education in Post-Colonial Hong Kong.” Musica Docta Vol. 19 (2019): 85-95.

“Zhao Jiping and the Sound of Resistance in Red Sorghum.” Studia Musicologica Vol. 56, No. 4 (2015): 185-96.

“Opera Production and Civic Musical Life in 1870s Montreal.” Nineteenth-Century Music Review Vol. 11, No. 2 (December 2014): 219-38.

“Music and the Fight Against Confederation in 1860s Montreal.” Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism Vol. 13, No. 2 (October 2013) 218-35.

“Journeys of an Immigrant Violinist: Jacques Oliveira in Civil War-Era New York and New Orleans.” Journal of the Society for American Music Vol. 6, No. 1 (2012): 51-82.

“Henri Drayton: English Opera and Anglo-American Culture, 1850-1872.” Journal of the Royal Musical Association Vol. 136, No. 2 (2011): 247-303.


Dictionary/encyclopaedia articles

Grove Dictionary of American Music, 2nd ed. (Oxford Music Online). Oxford University Press, 2013: “Henry Carter,” “Calixa Lavallée,” “Jacques Oliveira,” “Frantz Jehin Prume,” and “Gustave Smith.”


Music and Migration.  This ongoing project focuses on the migration of musicians. The project evolved out of my work on Calixa Lavallée, a musician who moved several times between the US and Canada, lived for a time in Paris, and spent much of his life on the road. Many of Lavallée’s contemporaries were emigre musicians. In Canada, they include the Belgian violinist Franz Jehin-Prume, Gustave Smith, and the De Angelis family; in the US, in the 1880s, he was surrounded by musicians who had come from many parts of Europe. The project aims to explore the role of music in the process of migration and the shaping of identities.

Music & Film. This ongoing project explores several aspects of music in film, including the ways in which political or ideological agendas may be expressed through music. The project is closely connected with my work in teaching film music, and I have presented in academic conferences, public forums, as well as in several courses.

Nationalism and Music. This ongoing project developed out of my work on Calixa Lavallée. It explores aspects of nationalism in music. Several publications have appeared so far. They include a more extended exploration of Music and Identity in the United Province of Canada

Upcoming Talks and Conferences

Proposed: “Opera, Empire, and the Politics of Being Italian.” The 21st Biennial International Conference on Nineteenth-Century Music. University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. 18-20 June 2020.

Forthcoming: Pre-concert talk: Hong Kong Philharmonic, conducted by Jaap van Zweden, Lang Lang, piano; Concert Hall, Hong Kong Cultural Centre, 16 January 2020. (Beethoven: Egmont Overture, Piano Concerto No. 2, Symphony No.1).


International Musicological Society

International Council for Traditional Music

Society for American Music

Brian Christopher Thompson

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