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Daniel Boucher

Music, University of Birmingham

Thesis title:

Expressionist Opera in the Aftermath of the First World War and the Weimar Republic�

My thesis explores the position of operas associated with expressionism in the Weimar Republic. Operas that have typically been associated with expressionism have tended to be grouped with non-operatic works under the blanket term of musical expressionism, definitions of which are varied and ill-defined. As such, fixating on musical characteristics as a way to define an opera as ‘expressionist’ is ineffectual and has drawn our attention away from other viewpoints that can be used to make cogent ties between opera and expressionism. 

In order to avoid the vexed issues surrounding musical expressionism, I will consider expressionism not as a fixed aesthetic, but as a discourse. I will explore how critics associated the early operas of Hindemith, Weill and Krenek with expressionism and how these insights echoed wider cultural debates. Each chapter will explore a specific performance of an opera in the context of a local discourse of expressionism – networks of individuals and institutions who promoted and debated expressionism in particular cities.

This thesis will re-evaluate the emergence of a modern opera culture in Germany. It will draw ties between operas that have typically been understood in isolation, thereby creating both an original and revisionary narrative. As well as improving our understanding of opera’s relationship with expressionism, my research will add to the growing output of scholarship on Weimar culture and further highlight the diversity of style within the arts during this period.

Research Area

  • Music


Boucher, Daniel. 'Recuperating expressionism: Hindemith's operatic triptych'. The Musical Quarterly (forthcoming).


  • 'Zeitopermania: Rewriting narratives of modern opera in Weimar Germany', Dis|continuities: Opera and its Historiography between the Weimar Republic and Early Post-War West Germany, Bonn Opera House, 18-21 May 2023.
  • 'Pantomime and modern opera: Kurt Weill's Der Protagonist (1926)', Royal Musical Association Annual Conference, Durham University, 8-10 September 2022.
  • 'In search of modern opera: Der Protagonist and Kurt Weill's early biography', LCAHM Lightning Talks, University of Birmingham, 30 May 2022.
  • 'Kurt Weill, pantomime, and operatic reform: the case of Der Protagonist', BFE/RMA Research Students' Conference, University of Plymouth, 6-8 January 2022.
  • 'Hindemith's operatic triptych and discourses of expressionism in Weimar culture', KVNM-RMA Postgraduate Symposium, 3-4 July 2021
  • 'Hindemith's Sancta Susanna and networks of expressionism in Frankfurt', Junior Scholar Opera Conference, in association with the Transnational Opera Studies Conference, University of Bayreuth, 24-25 June 2021
  • 'Style as discourse: recasting expressionism in Weimar cutlure', Midlands4Cities Research Festival, 9 June 2021
  • 'Hindemith's Sancta Susanna and networks of expressionism in Frankfurt', Midlands Music Research Network Inaugural Conference, 19-20 April 2021
  • 'Opera and regional networks of expressionism in the Weimar Republic', Sounding Research Series, University of Birmingham, 17 March 2021
Chaired sessions
  • 'Western Art Music in the 21st Century', BFE/RMA Research Students' Conference, 6-8 January 2022

Other Research Interests

  • Opera
  • Art History
  • Philosophy
  • Fin-de-siècle Culture
  • Modernism
  • German Studies


  • Royal Musical Association
  • American Musicological Society
  • Midlands Music Research Network


  • DipABRSM Violin Performance (Distinction)
  • BA (Hons) Music, University of Nottingham
  • MRes Music, University of Nottingham (funded by the Midlands4Cities Masters Studentship)