Roderick Swanston MA MusB (Cantab) FRCM FRCO GRSM LRAM was educated at Stowe School, the RCM, and Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he held the organ scholarship. At present he lectures for Birkbeck College University of London Faculty for Continuing Education, for the Humanities Department of Imperial College, at King’s College, London, and for the Foreign Studies Programme of Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, USA. Until August 2004 he was a professor at the RCM, holding a number of posts including Reader in Historical and Interdisciplinary Studies. He taught a variety of courses and inaugurated a large number of others.
Roderick is a frequent broadcaster, and on New Year’s Eve 1999 co-hosted an 18-hour survey of Western music on Radio 3 entitled Unfinished Symphony. In 1995 he wrote and presented on Radio 3 twelve monthly programmes on the history of British music, entitled Fairest Isle. Since 1995 he has conducted 21 interviews with prominent figures in early music, entitled Behind the Masque. He wrote and presented two series of programmes entitled Verdi Voices and Wagner Voices. He has also broadcast on Bach’s Goldberg Variations, on music inspired by Ancient Rome, and on Anthony Milner, one of his teachers. He has been a regular contributor to Classic CD, Gramophone’s ‘Early Music Quarterly’ magazine and BBC Music Magazine, and has reviewed for the Times Literary Supplement and Prospect magazine.
Roderick is much in demand as a guest lecturer. He has appeared in Riga, Berlin, Leipzig, Vienna and Venice; at the National Gallery (eg, ‘Music in the Pictures of Titian’), Royal Academy of Arts (eg, ‘Italian music in the great days of Dresden’), the BBC Proms, the Chichester Festival, Tate Britain and Minneapolis Institute of Arts, USA (eg, ‘Musical Parallels in England and France between 1820 and1840’), the Arts Club (eg, on ‘Ingres and Music’) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; at Birkbeck College’s Faculty for Continuing Education (eg, ‘Musical Portrayals of Judith and Holofernes’); at the South Bank, National Portrait Gallery, Royal Opera House, Wigmore Hall (eg, Wolf’s Mörike Lieder), and St John’s Smith Square; and at several festivals, including Martin Randall’s Austro-Hungarian Music Festival, the Festival of Music on the Rhine and Festivals of Music in Rome, Venice, Prague and – in 2006 – Naples (for all of which he is the artistic director), the Chichester Festivities, the Bath Mozart and Summer Festivals, the St Alban’s International Organ Festival and the first three of the St John’s Smith Square song-series. He is the programme planner for a series of concerts in the Chichester Festivities which explores some by-ways of music as part of a context for more familiar works. He has lectured for Martin Randall Travel in Berlin, Austria, Hungary, Italy and Switzerland. He gave the Keith Brown Memorial Lecture for the Liverpool Medical Institute, lectured on Handel both for the Handel Festival and the festival Celebrating Handel in Malta, and gave the Eva Turner Memorial Lecture of the UK Wagner Society in 2002.
In August 2003 Roderick toured South Africa with the London Song Circle, presenting concerts, lecturing and broadcasting. That November, he finished a four-year sequence of two-day Saturday schools on Wagner’s Ring for the Wagner Society in London. In 2004 he lectured on ‘Music and the Painting of El Greco’ and ‘Music and the Russian Landscape in the time of Tolstoy’ at the National Gallery, and planned and lectured for the Bach Pilgrimage to the places where he lived and worked, the Austro-Hungarian Music Festival and the Festival of Music in St Petersburg. In 2005 he was invited by the opera house in Seattle to lecture as part of the events around their performance of Wagner’s Ring, and in 2005 and 2006 was the English music lecturer at the summer festival at Verbier in Switzerland. In November 2005 he visited the Isle of Man to give lectures on ‘Music in Britain in the 19th Century’ and a talk on ‘Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony and Napoleon’. He also gave a lecture on ‘Rubens and Music’ as part of the Rubens exhibition events at the National Gallery.
In December 1994, Roderick was awarded a Fellowship of the RCM, and in 1995 and 1999 spent a term as a Visiting Professor in Music at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, USA. In 1998 he was invited to Hong Kong as the external examiner for the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.
Roderick Swanston has been a member of the Incorporated Society of Musicians since 1972, and served as Society president for 2008-09. He belongs to the Society’s West London Centre, and is a member of its Music in Education Section.’