As both pianist and researcher, Briony Cox-Williams is particularly interested in the ‘salon’ as a place in which much innovation occurred, both compositionally and in terms of expectations on audiences and performers alike. Because of this umbrella interest, her repertoire includes music by women (who were the motivators of most salon activity), chamber music and German Lied. Much of her research also engages with issues surrounding gender theory and music.

Briony’s PhD thesis (2007) ‘The Power of the Harmonies that Lie in Between’: Critical Responses to the Lieder of Bettina von Arnim, Fanny Hensel and Pauline von Decker’ looked at new ways in which listeners and performers might need to engage with the unfamiliar formal and harmonic patterns of music by 19th-century women. This has led to a broader interest in non-canonic chamber and song repertoire, especially that of the 19th-century German tradition. Hensel and Decker remain two of the composers that feature prominently in these types of investigation; her interest has extended to the lives and music of British women. She has a parallel interest in nineteenth-century pianos, both in historical and current performance terms, having worked with the pianos of the Academy Museum in particular.

These areas have always strongly underpinned her musical activities, from teaching undergraduate and postgraduate modules in the areas of aesthetics and concert practices (including programming) and working with postgraduate students on a wide variety of projects, to salon events under the aegis of her own project, Salon Without Boundaries (live and online), talks delivered in venues such as the Royal Festival Hall, and contribution to television programmes and podcasts.

Briony is currently working on a book about the extraordinary women students of the Royal Academy of Music during its first hundred years. This research arises from past work in programming these women in concert, biographical explorations, and an investigation into contextual notions of the relationship between success, gender and invisibility. Several conference papers are also scheduled in this area over the next year.


Completed projects that Briony has supervised include gender and music topics such as female violinists within musical cultures, as well as several in the area of programming and concert-giving practices, in genres that include classical to musical theatre. These include programming late Liszt, concert events around the intertwining of theatre works and piano music; other topics have included the role of tempo in music theatre conducting, and rehearsal authority of the ensemble pianist. Current students are working on the female singer in Handel operas, Afrikaans art song, Irish women composers, and technical considerations for small-handed pianists. Briony has also examined internationally for PhDs in concert practice and the relationship of music and the body.


'Bettina von Arnim, Goethe and the Boundaries of Creativity’ in Goethe: Musical Poet, Musical Catalyst, ed. Lorraine Byrne-Bodley (Dublin: Carysfort Press, 2004)

Helen’s Silences: The Gendering of Voice Pitch and Narrative Structure in Lili Boulanger’s Faust et Hélène’ in Journal of the English Goethe Society (2014)

Absence and Dialogue: Pauline von Decker in a Performing and Cultural Context’ in Women and the Nineteenth-Century Lied, ed. Aisling Kenny and Susan Wollenberg (Routledge, 2015)

Mapping the Boundaries: Encountering Women’s Creativity in the Salon, in Routledge

“Reconstructing the Early Twentieth-Century Performance Aesthetic of Una Bourne”, Women At The Piano Conference, Irvine, California, March 2023

Companion to Women and Musical Leadership: the nineteenth century and beyond (Routledge, 2024)