The Dancing Master in Context


The Dancing Master in Context

Playford’s publishing and music-making in 17th century England

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 Tuesday 28 November 2023

 5.30–6.30pm (GMT)

 Online via Zoom

 Free, booking required

Booking for this event has now closed.

About the event

Although The Dancing Master was one of John Playford’s best-known and most widely distributed publications, it belonged within a music-publishing portfolio that provides something of a snapshot of the breadth of music-making activities in which people from different parts of society participated in the Commonwealth and Restoration periods.

In this session, we explore what Playford’s publishing activities can tell us about how music was incorporated into different social environments in seventeenth-century English society, from the tavern to the concert room to the royal court, and what the writings of people known to have used his books, such as Samuel Pepys, tell us about the role music played in their lives.


Rebecca Herissone is Professor of Musicology at the University of Manchester and a Fellow of the British Academy. Her research focuses on the musical cultures of early modern England, particularly issues of creativity, reception and manuscript and print cultures, which has led her to work extensively on the publishing activities of John and Henry Playford, Thomas Cross and John Walsh, and to consider the complex relationships between musical notation and performance in the period. She has written three monographs, most recently Musical Creativity in Restoration England (awarded the Diana McVeagh Prize by NABMSA in 2015), and has had articles published in journals including the Journal of the American Musicological Society, Musical Quarterly, Journal of Musicology, Music & Letters, and the Journal of the Royal Musical Association. She co-edited Music & Letters from 2007–19 and is now a Vice-President of the Royal Musical Association, Chair of the Musica Britannica Editorial Committee, Series Co-Editor of Cambridge Elements in Music, 1600–1750, a General Editor of the Works of John Eccles, and a member of the Editorial Boards of the Purcell Society and Music & Letters. Her current research focuses on Purcell’s reception, particularly the material traces we can uncover of the small network of individuals who preserved, performed and transformed his music in the 18th and 19th centuries.


Alice Little is a Research Fellow at the Bate Collection of Musical Instruments, part of the Music Faculty of the University of Oxford. Her research focuses on collectors and collecting, particularly eighteenth-century tunebooks and their compilers, looking at what sources the collections were gathered from and what the selection of music says about the people and cultures that collected and used them.

 Booking information

This event is held online via Zoom. When you have booked your place, you'll receive an automated confirmation. You will receive details of how to join the Zoom meeting by email.


The Bodleian Libraries Learning Programme is generously supported by The Helen Hamlyn Trust:

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