You are here

  1. Home
  2. Dr Robert Samuels

Dr Robert Samuels

Robert Samuels

Profile summary

Professional biography

Robert Samuels (b.1962) was educated at Southend High School for Boys and Robinson College, Cambridge. He studied English and Music, graduating with a B.A. in 1985. After a year of voluntary work, he returned to Robinson College in 1986, and graduated with an M.Phil. in Musicology in 1987. He then studied for a Ph.D. in Music from 1987 to 1989, eventually graduating in 1994 with the thesis, Semiotics and Mahler: Analyses of Musical Signification in the Sixth Symphony. In 1989 he was appointed Leverhulme Research Fellow in the Department of Music at the University of Lancaster, and in 1990 he was appointed Lecturer. In 1995 he was appointed Lecturer in the Music Department of The Open University, and in 2011 he was appointed Senior Lecturer. He lives in Oxford with his wife Alison. They have two children: Anna (b.1999) and Ben (b.2002).

Research interests

Music of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, particularly from the perspectives of music analysis, critical theory, aesthetic history and comparative cultural history (principally exploring the relationships between music and literature). Publications have included studies of Schubert, Schumann, Mahler, Cage, Boulez and Birtwistle.

Robert is a convenor of the Literature and Music Research Group.

In 2014-15 Robert  held a twelve-month Leverhulme Research Fellowship with the project title, "Symphony and Novel in the Long Nineteenth Century".



See "Publications" tab above

Dictionary and Encyclopedia entries:

‘Schubert’ and ‘Winterreise’, articles for the Encyclopedia of the Romantic Era, ed. C. Murray. Fitzroy Dearborn (2003).

'Musical semiotics', article for the Oxford Companion to Musiced. A. Latham. Oxford: Oxford University Press (2002).

‘Harrison Birtwistle’, article for The Penguin Opera Guide, ed. A. Holden. Penguin Viking, Harmondsworth (1993).

Teaching interests

Robert was an author on modules A232: Music, Sound and Technology, A234: Understanding Music, and A342: Central Questions in the Study of Music. He also contributed to the module Certificate: The Practice of Music Making (CPMM), delivered in partnership with Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance; he remains a member of the Steering Group for the module. 

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Literature and Music Research GroupGroupFaculty of Arts
Musics and Cultures Research GroupGroupFaculty of Arts


Narrative form and Mahler’s musical thinking (2011-12)
Samuels, Robert
Nineteenth-Century Music Review, 8(2) (pp. 237-254)

The Double Articulation of Schubert: Reflections on Der Doppelgänger (2010-07)
Samuels, Robert
The Musical Quarterly, 93(2) (pp. 192-233)

Literature and music: Interdisciplinary research and teaching at the Open University (2009)
da Sousa Correa, Delia; Chornik, Katia and Samuels, Robert
Working With English: Medieval and Modern Language, Literature and Drama, 5 (pp. 50-61)

Entendez-vous la musique? Review of Peter Dayan: Music Writing Literature, from Sand via Debussy to Derrida. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006 (2008)
Samuels, Robert
Intégral: The Journal of Applied Musical Thought, Volume

Derrida and Snarrenberg (1989)
Samuels, Robert
In Theory Only, 11(1-2) (pp. 45-58)

Mahler's Sixth Symphony: a Study in Musical Semiotics (1995)
Samuels, Robert
Cambridge Studies in Music Theory and Analysis
ISBN : 9780521481663 | Publisher : Cambridge University Press | Published : Cambridge

Schubert’s instrumental voice: vocality in melodic construction in the late works (2014)
Samuels, Robert
In: Bernhart, Walter and Kramer, Lawrence eds. On Voice. Word and Music Studies (pp. 161-178)
ISBN : 978-90-420-3821-9 | Publisher : Rodopi | Published : Amsterdam

The act of performance as Mahlerian topic (2011-12)
Samuels, Robert
In: Bernhart, Walter and Halliwell, Michael eds. Word and Music Studies: essays on performativity and on surveying the field. Words and Music Studies (12) (pp. 35-52)
ISBN : 978-90-420-3463-1 | Publisher : Rodopi | Published : Amsterdam

Mahler within Mahler: allusion as quotation, self-reference, and metareference (2010)
Samuels, Robert
In: Bernhart, Walter and Wolf, Werner eds. Self-Reference in Literature and Other Media. Word and Music Studies (11) (pp. 33-50)
ISBN : 978-90-420-3158-6 | Publisher : Rodopi | Published : Amsterdam

Narratives of masculinity and femininity: two Schumann song cycles (2006-09-20)
Samuels, Robert
In: Da Sousa Correa, Delia ed. Phrase and subject: Studies in Literature and Music (pp. 135-145)
ISBN : 1904713076 | Publisher : Legenda | Published : Oxford, UK

Music as Narrative's Limit and Supplement (2006)
Samuels, Robert
In: Benito, Jesús and Manzanas, Ana Mª eds. The Dynamics of the Threshold: Essays on Liminal Negotiations. Studies in Liminality and Literature (pp. 149-163)
ISBN : 84-931843-3-0 | Publisher : The Gateway Press | Published : Madrid, Spain

The musician writes: for the eyes of the deaf? (2004)
Boulez, Pierre and Samuels, Robert [trans.]
In: Ashby, Arved ed. The Pleasure of Modernist Music: Listening, Meaning, Intention, Ideology. Eastman Studies in Music (pp. 197-222)
ISBN : 9781580461436 | Publisher : University of Rochester Press | Published : Rochester, NY

Music as text: Mahler, Schumann and issues in analysis (1994)
Samuels, Robert
In: Pople, Anthony ed. Theory, Analysis and Meaning in Music (pp. 152-163)
ISBN : 521452368 | Publisher : Cambridge University Press | Published : Cambridge

Pierre Boulez. Le marteau sans maître: facsimile of the draft score and the first fair copy of the full score (2005)
Decroupet, Pascal and Samuels, Robert [trans.] eds.
Publications from the Paul Sacher Foundation
ISBN : 978-3-7957-0453-7 | Publisher : Schott | Published : Mainz; London

The Boulez-Cage Carrespondence (1993)
Nattiez, Jean-Jacques and Samuels, Robert [trans.] eds.
ISBN : 9780521485586 | Publisher : Cambridge University Press | Published : Cambridge

Cross entropy as a measure of musical contrast (2015-06-16)
Laney, Robin; Samuels, Robert and Capulet, Emilie
In : 5th International Conference, MCM 2015 (22-25 Jun 2015, London, UK,) (pp. 193-198)

Algorithmic music as intelligent game music (2014)
Prechtl, Anthony; Laney, Robin; Willis, Alistair and Samuels, Robert
In : AISB50: The 50th Annual Convention of the AISB (1-4 Apr 2014, London, UK)

Methodological approaches to the evaluation of game music systems (2014)
Prechtl, Anthony; Laney, Robin; Willis, Alistair and Samuels, Robert
In : Audio Mostly Conference (01-03 Oct 2014, Aalborg, Denmark)