We’re at the end of October already, the summer months were filled with research and writing, as well as moving house. My PhD is progressing and I’m busy writing my literature review and methodology chapters. Alongside writing, my analysis of Schubert’s solo piano repertoire is developing and the direction of my research is taking shape.

At the beginning of September I took a research trip to Vienna. It was a fabulous few days. I visited both the Schubert museums: Sterbewohnung museum (the house where he died) and the Schubert Geburtshaus museum (the house where he was born). There are numerous primary sources in both museums, along with furniture, possessions and pianos that Schubert would have known. He didn’t own a piano himself, in the Sterbewohnung museum the piano was his older brother Ferdinand’s and in the Geburtshaus his eldest brother Ignaz’s piano. I also went to the Vienna City Library and the National Austrian library to study certain scores and look at German secondary literature. All was invaluable to my research.

I also visited the Kunsthistorisches Museum and attended two concerts. The first concert was at the Musikhaus and was an enjoyable varied programme of Viennese classics: instrumental pieces, songs and dance works (complete with a ballerina). The second concert was my favourite. It was at  church tucked away on a side street, you walk through the door and are met by the most beautiful and breathtaking interior. It was a string quartet concert: Mozart G major and Schubert’s ‘Death and the Maiden’. The performance was fantastic and the setting made it even more so; an extremely memorable evening.

I visited the Cemetery the one morning to pay my respects to Schubert. He now lies by Beethoven, Johann Strauss II, Brahms, Hugo Wolf, Johann Strauss I and there’s a monument to Mozart too. There was something extremely profound and humbling about standing there in the autumn Vienna sunshine feet from the mortal remains of some of the world’s greatest composers.

My trip to Vienna enabled me to look on my research with fresh eyes as the new academic year started. I am doing more lecturing at Liverpool Hope University this year. Alongside the responsibilities I had last year, I now also run the first year Style Composition course and the second year Analysis module; all’s going well so far.

The new Royal Birmingham Conservatoire opened in September. It’s a fantastic building with lots of potential for music education in the city. Teaching started at the end of September, theory is continuing as normal and I have twice as many students in piano class — lots of possibilities for duets and hopefully we’re getting some singers on board for accompaniment training too.

The end of term will be here before we know it. I’ve got a deadline for a research paper in December so I’m currently busy writing, alongside continuing with research and lecturing. I hope you’re all enjoying the autumn sunshine.

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