David Irving

David Irving

Institució Milà i Fontanals


David R. M. Irving studied at Griffith University, the University of Queensland, and the University of Cambridge. He held post-doctoral positions at Christ's College, Cambridge, and King's College London; he then taught at the University of Nottingham, the Australian National University, and the University of Melbourne. He became an ICREA Research Professor in 2019 and is based at the Institució Milà i Fontanals-CSIC. His research interests include the role of music in early modern intercultural exchange, the global history of music, and historical performance practice. He is co-general editor of the forthcoming Cultural History of Music series from Bloomsbury, and co-editor of the Cambridge University Press journal Eighteenth-Century Music. His awards include the Jerome Roche Prize from the Royal Musical Association and the McCredie Musicological Award from the Australian Academy of the Humanities.

Research interests

My research stands at the nexus of historical musicology, ethnomusicology, and global history, examining the role of music in intercultural exchanges during the early modern period. I have worked on musical and cultural repercussions of Spanish, Portuguese, French, Dutch, and British colonialism in early modern Southeast Asia; I have also studied the role of music in Catholic missions (especially the Jesuits) in the early modern world. I aim to develop new conceptual frameworks and theoretical models for global histories of music, and to explore the impact of global colonialism on musical thought and practice in early modern Europe. I am currently tracing the rise of “European music” as a conceptual, aesthetic, and philosophical category, and am critiquing the emergence of cultural essentialism and exceptionalism in music historiography. I am also a violinist, have deep interests in organology, and am active in the field of historical performance practice.

Selected research activities

Since joining ICREA in March 2019, I have completed a number of projects as well as designing and creating new ones.

Prior to my arrival I had directed an Australian Research Council Discovery Project on Cocos Malay music and dance in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands; in April the ethnographic documentary arising from this project was premiered in Aberdeen. I undertook further archival research on this topic in the UK and have since submitted several publications.

In July I co-organised and ran with a Canadian collaborator the international workshop Rethinking Enlightenment Music History at Dalhousie University, with the support of a Connection Grant awarded by the SSHRC (Canada). We are currently co-editing a book in this field.

This year I delivered a keynote address in Lisbon and presented colloquia at UPF, Brown University, and Bristol University; I also gave conference papers in Cambridge, Oxford, Boston, Prague, Vienna, and Barcelona. Many of these relate to the manuscript-in-progress of my next monograph, How the World Made European Music: A Global History of Early Modern Convergence.

Within the International Musicological Society I initiated the “Global History of Music” Study Group; as its chair, I founded a seminar series.

In March I was appointed co-editor of the Cambridge University Press journal Eighteenth-Century Music, and have worked on several issues so far.

I was invited to teach graduate seminars at Harvard University, Brown University, and ESMUC, and I examined PhD theses in the USA, UK, and Spain. In December, three of my PhD students graduated from the University of Melbourne.

I keep active as a baroque violinist; in December I played in a complete recording of Arcangelo Corelli’s twelve Concerti Grossi Op.6 (1714), for which I have also contributed the liner notes.