Francesca Brittan, PhD

Associate Professor
Department of Music
College of Arts and Sciences

Francesca Brittan is a scholar of nineteenth-century music and aesthetics. She holds a Ph.D. from Cornell University (2007), and was a Research Fellow at Queens’ College, Cambridge between 2006-08. She joined the faculty at Case in 2009. Her current research and teaching interests include music and histories of magic, intersections between sound and romantic science, nineteenth-century orchestral and conducting cultures, and sonic histories of mind. Brittan also works on popular music, especially blues and early rock and roll.

She is the author of the monograph Music and Fantasy in the Age of Berlioz (Cambridge UP, 2017), the editor of Jean-Etienne-Joseph Soubre’s Sinfonie fantastique (A-R Editions, 2017), and a contributor to the forthcoming Cambridge Berlioz Encyclopedia (CUP). Her published articles include the following: “Berlioz and the Pathological Fantastic: Melancholy, Monomania, and Romantic Autobiography” (19th-Century Music), “On Microscopic Hearing: Fairy Magic, Natural Science, and the Scherzo fantastique” (JAMS), “Liszt, Sand, Garcia, and the Contrebandier” (Journal of the American Liszt Society), “The Electrician, the Magician, and the Nervous Conductor” (Nineteenth-Century Music Review, forthcoming), and Women Who Do Elvis (Journal of Popular Music Studies). Current projects include a book-length cultural and political history of conducting (The Conductor’s Wand: Orchestral Power from Mendelssohn to Bernstein) and a collection of essays on music and romantic theories of attention.

Brittan has been the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including a Governor General’s Award, a Sage Fellowship (Cornell University), a Sicca-Manon Fellowship, a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship, a Junior Research Fellowship (University of Cambridge), a Glennan Fellowship (CWRU), and a W.P. Jones Presidential Faculty Development Award (CWRU). In 2012, she won the American Musicological Society’s Alfred Einstein Award.

In addition to her scholarly activities, Brittan is active as fortepianist and teacher of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century performance practices. She was trained at the Royal Conservatory in the Hague (Bart van Oort and Patrick Ayrton) and Cornell University (Malcolm Bilson) and has received several international grants for performers, including the Chalmers Award. She is particularly interested in late-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century melodrama and related traditions of romantic declamation, and, in recent years, has given a series of performances showcasing this material in Europe and North America. She is also on faculty at the Cleveland Institute of Music.

Teaching Information

Teaching Interests

  • 19th-Century Music
  • Popular Music
  • Fortepiano


Brittan, Francesca. (2006). "Berlioz and the Pathological Fantastic: Melancholy, Monomania, and Romantic Autobiography." 19th Century Music 29.3: 211-239.