Job title: Senior Lecturer, Music

Role: Head of Subject Area, Music

Tel: +44 (0)131 650 2420


Office address: Alison House, Room 301

Research outputs: Dr Elaine Kelly on Edinburgh Research Explorer

Elaine studied for a BA in music at Maynooth University in Ireland, and then moved to Queen's University Belfast, where she completed an MA in Twentieth-Century Music and subsequently a PhD with a dissertation on Brahms's involvement with the early music revival.

Her research focuses on the intersections between music, politics, culture, and intellectual history in nineteenth and twentieth-century Germany. She is particularly interested in the German Democratic Republic, and has published extensively on the relationship between culture and politics in the state. She is author of Composing the Canon in the German Democratic Republic: Narratives of Nineteenth-Century Music (Oxford University Press, 2014), editor together with Amy Wlodarski of Art Outside the Lines: New Perspectives on GDR Art Culture (Rodopi, 2011), and editor with Derek B. Scott and Markus Mantere of Confronting the National in the Musical Past (Routledge, 2018). She has published articles in venues such as Opera Quarterly, Kritika:Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History, Nineteenth-Century Music, Music & Letters, and the Journal of the American Musicological Society.

Elaine is currently working on two related projects that consider the global contexts of the German Democratic Republic. The first of these examines the role that musical diplomacy played in East German foreign policy, exploring how the state used elite ensembles and musical "experts" to counter West German isolationist policies, and to develop alliances with non-aligned states in the developing world. The second project focuses on the construct of international solidarity, and looks at how music mediated the developing world for GDR citizens.

Elaine has been head of the Reid School of Music since January 2017. She will serve as a vice-president of the Royal Musical Association from 2019-23, and as co-editor of the Journal of Musicology from January 2019.

Elaine offers honours options on Music and State Socialism in the Twentieth Century and Wagner: Music, Philosophy, and Culture, and contributes to various courses on both the BMus and the MMus in Musicology.

My research interests span a number of broad themes including canon reception, music historiography, opera production, and Marxist aesthetics, many of which coalesce in my work on the German Democratic Republic. I have published extensively on the construction and legacy of the GDR's aesthetic culture, and am currently working on two related projects that explore the global contexts of the state. The first of these projects is concerned with the role assigned to musical diplomacy in East German foreign policy. It explores how the GDR used elite ensembles and musical "experts" to assert a presence on the world stage, to counter West German isolationist policies, and to develop alliances in the developing world. The second project looks at how music composed and performed in the name of international solidarity mediated the developing world for GDR citizens, and reflects on how this repertoire, and the discourses surrounding it, exposed the contradictions that existed between the ideology of international solidarity and the colonial and nationalist legacies that were embedded in East German culture.

PhD Supervision Topics

  • Aesthetics
  • C19th Romanticism
  • Cultural history
  • Historical musicology
  • Historiography
  • Opera/Theatre
  • Philosophy
  • Politics
  • Social history
  • Twentieth century