Professor Fiona M. Palmer is a musicologist and a performer based at Maynooth University (Ireland) whose research focuses on music in Britain (1780s–1940s), particularly in relation to the music business. She is fascinated by issues of professionalization, networking, reception and performance practice; her publications include studies of soloists, orchestral and choral institutions, conductors and music publishers.  Fiona’s most recent monograph is Conductors in Britain c. 1870–1914: Wielding the Baton at the Height of Empire (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2017).  This book contextualizes and reconsiders the emergence and reception of the role of conductor in the late Victorian age. It examines evolving institutional and professional opportunities during this richly dynamic period. The conductors at the heart of this re-evaluation include Julius Benedict, William Cusins, Arthur Sullivan, Joseph Barnby, Alexander C. Mackenzie, Frederic H. Cowen, Dan Godfrey Jr and Landon Ronald. Their varying experiences, contributions, networks and opportunities combine to reflect the progress of the emerging conducting profession. This large project draws on Fiona’s detailed research into British concert-life and sheds new light on the histories of organizations such as the Philharmonic Society of London, the Liverpool Philharmonic Society, Manchester’s Hallé Orchestra, the Bournemouth Municipal Orchestra, the Royal Choral Society, Birmingham Promenade Concerts and music festivals nationwide.Previous books include: Vincent Novello (1781–1861): Music for the Masses (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006) — the first large-scale contextualized reappraisal of the career of the pioneering London-based editor and publisher. This monograph complements her earlier book which repositioned one of the most influential, well-connected and successful virtuosi in nineteenth-century London: Dragonetti in England (1794–1846): the Career of a Double Bass Virtuoso (Oxford University Press, 1997).

A double bassist, mezzo-soprano and flautist, Fiona is a first-class graduate of Birmingham Conservatoire and undertook her PhD in Musicology at the University of Birmingham (British Academy Scholar). Aside from academic posts, her career has included work as a professional orchestral player, as the Manager of the Examinations Department at the ABRSM, and as a peripatetic instrumental and vocal teacher and conductor.

See https://www.maynoothuniversity.ie/people/fiona-m-palmer for more detailed information on current projects, outputs, external activities and involvements.

Blog Posts


    American Musicological Society

    North American British Music Studies Association

    Royal Musical Association

    Society for Musicology Ireland

    Higher Education Academy (UK)


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