Job title: Senior Lecturer

Role: Head of Subject Area, Music

Tel: +44 (0)131 650 2420


Research outputs: Dr Elaine Kelly on Edinburgh Research Explorer

Elaine Kelly studied for a BA in music at NUI Maynooth, 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.

Elaine’s research focuses on the music and culture of both nineteenth and twentieth-century Germany. She is especially interested in the German Democratic Republic, and has published extensively on the relationship between culture and politics in the state, looking variously at issues of identity formation, nation building, and the concept of late socialism. These themes come together in her recent monograph Composing the Canon in the German Democratic Republic: Narratives of Nineteenth-Century Music (Oxford University Press, 2014), which examines the role that the Germanic musical heritage played both in the construction of East German socialism and in its subsequent demise. This work was funded by an AHRC Early Career Fellowship.

Elaine’s interests also include the post-unification legacy of East German art; she is editor, together with Amy Wlodarski, of Art Outside the Lines: New Perspectives on GDR Art Culture (Rodopi, 2011), and was a member of the AHRC After the Wall network, which ran from 2009-10. She is currently working on a new book project, which explores East German musical encounters - both real and imagined – with the world beyond the Soviet Bloc.

Elaine served as a council member of the Royal Musical Association from 2013-15, and is currently chair of the American Musicological Society’s Cold War and Music Study Group:



Elaine's teaching centres primarily on music history and musicology. She is course organiser of the second-year history survey courses, Music 2A: Music and Ideas from the Middle Ages to Viennese Classicism, and Music 2B: Music and Ideas from Romanticism to the Late Twentieth Century. At honours level, she currently offers the options Wagner: Music, Philosophy, and Culture and Music and State Socialism in the Twentieth Century. She also contributes to the MMus in Musicology, teaching on both Introduction to Musicology, and Music, Philosophy, and Politics.

Research interests

  • Musical thought and culture in the GDR
  • Canon Formation and Reception
  • Marxist aesthetics
  • Music historiography
  • Opera production post 1945

Research activity

  • Carnegie Grant – The GDR on Tour: Negotiating the West through Music during the Cold War (2014)
  • AHRC Early Career Fellowship - Composing the Canon: Narratives of Romanticism in the German Democratic Republic (2011-12)
  • Carnegie Grant - Demythologizing Beethoven: The Rise of Historical Consciousness in the German Democratic Republic (2010)
  • Carnegie Grant - Music historiography in the German Democratic Republic (2007)
  • AHRB Small Project Grant - The Politicization of the Germanic Musical Canon in the GDR (2005-6)

For further details, see Edinburgh Research Explorer

PhD Supervision Topics

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