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Barry Cooper


  • Professor of Music, Music

Personal profile


Barry Cooper studied music at University College, Oxford (MA, 1973; DPhil., 1974), where he also studied organ (FRCO, 1968). After a temporary lecturership at St Andrews University he moved to Aberdeen University (1974) before transferring to Manchester University in 1990, where he was appointed Professor of Music in 2003. He is best known for his research on Beethoven, on whom he has written or edited eight books. He has also published a scholarly performing edition of Beethoven’s 35 Piano Sonatas (2007), with extensive commentary. For further details of these and other publications, see under 'Research Interests'. His reconstruction of the original slow movement of Beethoven's String Quartet Op. 18 No. 2 was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in 2011. In 2012 he discovered a hymn setting by Beethoven, 'Tantum ergo', which was performed at the Martin Harris Centre (University of Manchester) and broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4.  A YouTube recording can be heard via the following link: . In 2017 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Tucumán, Argentina.


Research interests

Specific research interests:

His research interests include the following:

  • English Baroque music
  • Baroque keyboard music
  • Baroque music theory
  • Beethoven and contemporaries
  • Handel
  • Child composers
  • Editing early music
  • Source collections.

He has a wide range of research interests from medieval to 19th century music, notably on English baroque music and the music of Beethoven and his contemporaries.

His main research in recent years has been on Beethoven himself, and he is regarded as a world authority on this composer. His books include Beethoven and the Creative Process (Oxford, 1990, 2nd ed. 1992); Beethoven's Folksong Settings (Oxford, 1994); Beethoven (The Master Musicians, Oxford, 2000, 2nd ed. 2008); The Creation of Beethoven's 35 Piano Sonatas (2017). He is also the General Editor and co-author of The Beethoven Compendium (London, 1991, 2nd ed. 1996), which has been translated into French, German, Dutch, Portuguese and Japanese.

In 1988 his completion of the first movement of Beethoven's unfinished Tenth Symphony attracted widespread international attention when it was premiered at the Royal Festival Hall, London. It has since been performed in over twenty countries, with CD recordings issued on the Chandos (CHAN 6501), Carlton Classics (30369 0013-2) and other labels. The score was originally published by Universal Edition, London, and a revised edition appeared in 2013 (Vienna: Universal Edition). 

In 2007 the Associated Board (ABRSM) published his complete edition of Beethoven's 35 piano sonatas (including three early ones often wrongly omitted). The edition includes extended commentary to each sonata, including history, assessment of the sources and detailed notes on interpretation and performance practice. It was awarded the title '2008 Best Classical Publication' by the Music Industries Association, and the commentary has been published in a German edition (2009) and a Chinese edition (2010). His new editions of Beethoven's Mass in C and Missa solemnis appeared in 2016 and 2019 respectively.

His dissertation was revised and published as English Solo Keyboard Music of the Middle and Late Baroque (New York, 1989), and his other writings include a monograph on music theory in Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries, three catalogues of musical source material, and numerous journal articles and reviews. He has also published a pioneering study on child Composers and Their Works (Lanham, 2009).

Current research projects:

He is currently preparing a book on Beethoven's symphonies.


Recent/Current Teaching:


  • Western Music and its Contexts
  • Harmony and Counterpoint
  • Music Bibliography 
  • Dissertation
  • The String Quartet
  • Late Beethoven 
  • Medieval Song


  • MusM: Research Skills, Historical and Editorial Skills, Source Studies, Editorial Techniques, Dissertation
  • PhD: Dissertation

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Creative Manchester


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