Robert Sholl

BMus, MMus, PhD, FRCO (Chm), ARCM, Grad Dip (St-Maur), FHEA

Research Programmes

Organist and lecturer

Robert Sholl is a Professor of Music at the University of West London and teaches at the Royal Academy of Music. His publications on twentieth-century music include Messiaen Studies (Cambridge University Press), and Contemporary Music and Spirituality (Routledge, 2017) with Sander van Maas. Robert is currently writing books on Messiaen and Arvo Pärt. He is editor (with George Parsons) of James MacMillan Studies (Cambridge University Press) and editor of Olivier Messiaen in Context (Cambridge University Press).  He has forthcoming articles on Messiaen and Jean-Louis Florentz in The Oxford Handbook to Spectralism and he has written on Stravinsky (Le Sacre du printemps), John Adams, Luciano Berio, Harrison Birtwistle, Brian Ferneyhough, and Arvo Pärt. His research interests include twentieth and twenty-first century music, critical theory and philosophy, musical analysis, performance, improvisation, somatic techniques (especially The Feldenkrais Method), Music and Psychoanalysis, Music and Spirituality, listening, and film music.

Robert has organised four conferences at the Southbank centre and was recently the artistic director for the Royal College of Organists’ London Forum, which was a celebration of Messiaen’s work. He has given papers at the Universities of Harvard, Princeton, Brown, Cambridge, Oxford, London, Amsterdam, Boston, McGill, Fordham, Hong Kong, Melbourne, The Royal Academy of Music, The Royal College of Music, at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama for their conference on The Phantom of the Opera, twice at the American Musicological Society Conferences (Washington and Milwaukee), and twice at EUROMAC (Leuven and Strasbourg). Robert has been an academic referee for major University Presses, Trinity Laban, has worked as consultant for the University of Aix-en-Provence, and has tutored for The Royal College of Organists.

Robert is a trained Feldenkrais Practitioner and has a forthcoming study of the Method and musical performance in the Journal of the Royal Musical Association entitled: “Feldenkrais’s touch, Ephram’s laughter, Gould’s sensorium: listening and musical practice between thinking and doing.” He is also the editor of forthcoming book The Feldenkrais Method in Creative Practice: Dance, Music and Theatre, which contains a separate study of Feldenkrais’s work, psychoanalysis and Glenn Gould.               

Robert studied the organ with Olivier Latry (Notre-Dame de Paris), and in 2016-17 he performed all of the organ works of Messiaen at Arundel Cathedral. Improvisation has become a regular part of Robert’s recitals and he has released improvisations to silent films: James Sibley Watson’s and Melville Webber’s The Fall of the House of Usher and Rupert Julian’s The Phantom of the Opera (Unmasking Scene), which was shown at The Barbican Centre in 2017. Improvisation has become a regular part of his recitals. He has played at St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, St John’s, Smith Square, and twice both at the Madeleine and at Notre-Dame de Paris.


  • Article: ‘Feldenkrais’s touch, Ephram’s laughter, Gould’s sensorium: Listening and Musical Practice between Thinking and Doing’, submitted to the Journal of the Royal Musical Association (accepted for publication). (2019)
  • Edited book: MacMillan Studies ed. with George Parsons Article: ‘Exquisite Violence: Imagery, Embodiment and Transformation in MacMillan’ for Cambridge University Press (contract held). (2019)
  • Edited book: The Feldenkrais Method in Creative Practice Article: ‘Lacan – Feldenkrais – Gould: how not to love your neighbour as yourself’. (2019)
  • Article: ’Jean-Louis Florentz and Spectralism’, The Oxford Handbook to Spectralism ed. Amy Bauer, Liam Cagney and Will Mason. (2019)
  • Article: ‘Olivier Messiaen: Spectralist’, The Oxford Handbook to Spectralism ed. Amy Bauer, Liam Cagney and Will Mason. (2019)
  • Article: ‘Jean-Louis Florentz: Hospitalité et traduction’, Euterpe: La revue Musicale, Vol. 31-2,  (2018) ed. Violane Anger, 55-69.
  • Article: ‘Charles Marie Widor’ for BBC Prom 10. (2018)
  • Article: ‘Pärt and the Sound of One hand clapping’, White Light: Arvo Pärt and Media, ed. Laura Dolp (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017), 47-73.
  • Editor (with Sander van Maas [Utrecht University]): Contemporary Music and Spirituality (London: Routledge/Ashgate Press, 2016), Article: ‘Searching for the Elusive Obvious: Memory, Forgiveness, Transcendence, Catharsis, and Redemption in Contemporary Spiritual Music’, 231-57 Author (with Sander van Maas): ‘Contemporary Spiritual Music: an Introduction’, 1-14.
  • Article: ‘Stop it, I like it! Stop it, I like it!  Masochism, Embodiment, and Listening for Traumatic Pleasure’, Thresholds of Listening, ed. Sander van Maas (New York: Fordham University Press, 2014), 153-74.
  • Article: ‘Arvo Pärt and Spirituality’, The Cambridge Companion to Arvo Pärt, ed. Andrew Shenton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 140-58.
  • Article: ‘The Shock of the Positive: Olivier Messiaen, St Francis and Redemption through Modernity’, Resonant Witness: Conversations between Music and Theology, ed. Jeremy Begbie and Steve Guthrie (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011), 162-89.
  • Article: ‘Olivier Messiaen and the Avant-garde poetics of the Messe de la Pentecôte’ in Olivier Messiaen: Theologian ed. Shenton (Ashgate, 2009), 199-222.
  • Editor: Messiaen Studies (Cambridge University Press, 2007), Article: ‘Love, Mad Love, and the Point Sublime: The Surrealist Poetics of Messiaen’s Harawi’, 34-62.

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