Dr Igor Contreras Zubillaga joins the University of Huddersfield as British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow (2018-2022). His research project will analyse the relationships between music and democracy in post-Francoist Spain (1975-1986). The Spanish dictator Francisco Franco died on 20 November 1975, after nearly 40 years in power. There followed a process aimed towards the creation of a democratic state, an episode which historians have interpreted as a complex and collective learning of freedom that, in a few years, was to change the country thoroughly. Igor’s project seeks to provide a ground-breaking study of this period as it played out in the domain of new music – i.e. contemporary classical music. Igor will examine how musical practices and institutions formed ways of imagining democracy, and how they participated in the wider social struggle to define freedom and equality for the post-Francoist era. He takes as his focus a set of specific musical works and four key institutions reflecting different aspects of musical life – two musical collectives and two state-sponsored organisations – each of which bears in different ways on my key research questions: How can musical practice articulate competing narratives of memory? How can music and memory help to deal with past trauma? How can different musical practices instantiate ideas of democracy? How should democratic values inform musical practice? How can artists negotiate between creative autonomy and social responsibility? And more broadly, what is the role of culture in a democracy?

Prof Robert Adlington holds the Queen’s Anniversary Prize Chair in Contemporary Music at the University of Huddersfield. He was convenor of the 2-day symposium ‘Finding Democracy in Music’ at Huddersfield in September 2017. He is writing a monograph with the provisional title Musical Models of Democracy, and is co-editing (with Esteban Buch) a volume of essays arising from the Huddersfield symposium. In 2018 he was coordinator of democracy-related events at the Darmstadt Summer Course and the TRANSIT Festival of New Music in Leuven. He is the author of books on Harrison Birtwistle, Louis Andriessen, and avant-garde music in 1960s Amsterdam, editor of books on the 1960s avant-garde and music and communism outside the communist bloc, and has published journal articles and book chapters on Luigi Nono, Luciano Berio, modernism and musical temporality. He is also editor of a new multi-author volume entitled New Music Theatre in Europe: Transformations between 1955-1975 (Routledge).