Skip to main content

Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin

Menu Search

Trinity College Dublin By using this website you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with the Trinity cookie policy. For more information on cookies see our cookie policy.

Profile Photo

Dr. Martin Adams

Fellow Emeritus (Music)


Martin Adams studied at Southampton University, and for a number of years was active as a composer and arranger of theatre music, and as a conductor of amateur and semi-professional choirs and orchestras. For three years he lectured at Leeds University, and in 1979 moved to Trinity College Dublin. His research interests lie in English music of the 17th century (mainly Purcell) and the late-19th/early-20th centuries (mainly Elgar, on whose music he has written several analytical papers). His Henry Purcell: the Origins and Development of His Musical Style (Cambridge, 1995), a detailed analytical study of that composer's compositional practice, has just become available in paperback. He is currently working on a book exploring the cultural roots of English dramatic opera.
  Copyright law and practice in music   Elgar - compositional techniques and cultural contexts   Henry Purcell - compositional techniques and development   Music and theatre in 17th-century England   Seventeenth-century opera
 'Impressions that . . . could not be hummed':
 The Origins of English Dramatic Opera

Language Skill Reading Skill Writing Skill Speaking
French Medium Basic Medium
Details Date From Date To
Member of Society for Musicology in Ireland 2003 present
Martin Adams, Henry Purcell's "Dido and Aeneas", 2nd edn, Review of Henry Purcell's "Dido and Aeneas", 2nd edn, by Ellen T. Harris , Music and Letters, 100, (1), 2019, p138-141 , Review, PUBLISHED
Opera as Literature and the Triumph of Music in, editor(s)Bruce Wood and Colin Timms , Music in the London Theatre from Purcell to Handel, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2017, pp25 - 37, [Martin Adams], Notes: [Derived from the project on the cultural origins of dramatic opera], Book Chapter, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text
History in the Writing in, editor(s)Michael Dervan , The Invisible Art: A Century of Music in Ireland 1916-2016, Dublin, New Island, 2016, pp198 - 211, [Martin Adams], Book Chapter, PUBLISHED  URL
Martin Adams, It's Nice to Find a Piece of Paper with a Date on It. But what if you can't find it?, 17th Biennial International Conference on Baroque Music, Canterbury (UK), 13-17 July 2016, 2016, Notes: [A contribution to the long-running debate on the dating of Purcell's "Dido and Aeneas", with special emphasis on the validity of certain kinds of evidence, and on the uses and abuses of deduction, induction and abduction to construct argument.], Conference Paper, PRESENTED  URL
Martin Adams, Poetry for Reading or Singing? Purcell, Dryden, Dramatic Opera and the musicality of the Iambic Pentameter, 16th Biennial International Conference on Baroque Music, Salzburg, July 9-13, 2014, 2014, Notes: [Part of the project researching the cultural origins of English Dramatic Opera], Conference Paper, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text
Martin Adams, Review of The Ashgate Research Companion to Henry Purcell. Farnham and Burlington: Ashgate Publishing, 2012. 420 + xviii pp., by (ed.) Rebecca Herissone , Restoration: Studies in English Literary Culture, 1660-1700, 38, (1), 2014, p83-86 , Review, PUBLISHED
Martin Adams, Creative Perspectives on Creativity, Review of Concepts of Creativity in Seventeenth-Century England, by Rebecca Herissone and Alan Howard (Editors) , Early Music, 42, (4), 2014, p643-646 , Review, PUBLISHED
Methodist Church Music, Presbyterian Church Music, Nahum Tate, Henry Purcell, Trinity College Dublin, Harry White and Barra Boydell, general editors, Encyclopaedia of Music in Ireland, Dublin, UCD Press, 2013, [Martin Adams], Item in dictionary or encyclopaedia, etc, PUBLISHED
Martin Adams, The Land without Oratorio: or Music Must not Tell Stories, 15th Biennial Conference on Baroque Music, Southampton University, 11-15 July, 2012, 2012, Notes: [A component of the project on the cultural origins of dramatic opera], Conference Paper, PUBLISHED
Martin Adams, Elgar and the Untheorisable Skill, Eighth Biennial Conference for Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain, Queen's University Belfast, 21-24 July 2011, 2011, Notes: [A study of the structural role of orchestration in Elgar's orchestral piece "Dream Children". Via a comparison with the Arabian Dance from Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker", it is suggested that, because orchestration's structural role is crucially dependent on context, music theorists have yet to develop a general theory of orchestration as a structural component. ], Conference Paper, PUBLISHED

Page 1 of 4
Martin Adams, Purcell, Handel and Literature (Conference News), RMA Newsletter, Royal Musical Association, April, 2010, 9-9, Report, PUBLISHED
Martin Adams, 'History or Entertainment?' (Guest editorial), BackTrack, 20, (4), 2006, p195 , Journal Article, PUBLISHED
Martin Adams, 'Purcell and the "Awful Matron."' , Music in Seventeeth-Century Ireland, NUI Maynooth, 5 February, 2005, Conference Paper, PRESENTED
Martin Adams, 'Music as Past, Present and Future in Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius.', Society for Musicology in Ireland Annual Conference, University College Cork, May, 2005, Conference Paper, PRESENTED
Martin Adams, 'The Analysis of Baroque Music: a Plea for Flexibility', RMA Study Day, King's College London, 12 November, 2005, Conference Paper, PRESENTED
Martin Adams, 'English Musical Theatre in the 17th Century: A Lost Opportunity?' (Guest speaker), Seminario teatro musical, Inglaterra-España, Barcelona, 6-7 February, 2003, Conference Paper, PRESENTED
Martin Adams, 'Opera is where the guy gets stabbed in the back, and instead of bleeding he sings.', Society for Musicology in Ireland Annual Conference, NUI Maynooth, May, 2003, Conference Paper, PRESENTED
Martin Adams, 'Un altra idea di opera', Amadeus, 13, (2), 2003, p14 - 17, Journal Article, PUBLISHED
Martin Adams, 'English Dramtic Opera: The Impossible Form of Art?', Tenth Biennial Conference on Baroque Music, Universidad de La Rioja, Logroño, Spain, July, 2002, Conference Paper, PRESENTED
Martin Adams, 'Words first, music second.' (Keynote address, by invitation.), Annual Meeting of the Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland, Dublin, 25 July, 2000, Conference Paper, PRESENTED


Award Date
Elected to Fellowship of Trinity College Dublin 1996
1) English music in the 17th century, especially that of Henry Purcell and theatre music. 2) The music of Edward Elgar. 3) Concepts of influence in music. 4) Copyright law in music.