Samantha Owens


Samantha Owens is a freelance music historian based in Karori, Wellington. She has published widely on the performance cultures and practices of Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia, 1850–1950, as well as on the music history of early modern Europe, 1660–1760. Her monograph, The Well-Travelled Musician: John Sigismond Cousser and Musical Exchange in Baroque Europe (Boydell Press, 2017), was funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery Project grant (2013– 2015). 


Samantha has been the editor of numerous scholarly books and her published editions of large-scale musical works by J. S. Cousser (Kusser) have been used for performances at Dublin Castle, Kilkenny Castle, Wigmore Hall (London), the Badisches Staatstheater (Karlsruhe), Liederhalle Stuttgart and Rokokotheater Schwetzingen. She also works as a freelance indexer; her index for Music at German Courts: Changing Artistic Priorities, 1700–1760, which she co-edited with Barbara M. Reul and Janice B. Stockigt (Boydell Press, 2011), won the 2012 medal of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Indexers. 


A Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, Samantha is an Honorary Professor of Music at the University of Queensland, and has held visiting fellowships at the Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel, Germany (2004); Clare Hall, University of Cambridge (2007–2008); and, as an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Fellow (Bonn), at the Institut für Musik, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg (2009–2010) and the Bach-Archiv in Leipzig, Germany (2018).


Selected publications (New Zealand & Australian topics only):

J. S. Bach in Australia: Studies in Reception and Performance, co-edited with Denis Collins and Kerry Murphy. Melbourne: Lyrebird Press, 2018.


“‘A Gothic Cathedral in Music’: The Reception of Australian Performances of Bach’s B-Minor Mass in the 1920s.” In J. S. Bach in Australia: Studies in Reception and Performance, ed. Denis Collins, Samantha Owens & Kerry Murphy. Lyrebird Press, Melbourne, 2018. 101–116.


“‘Unmistakeable Sauerkrauts’: Local Perceptions of Itinerant German Musicians in New Zealand, 1850–1920.” Nineteenth-Century Music Review 15/1 (2018): 37–49. 


“‘The Above Mentioned Aliens’: Rudolf Mersy’s German Band in New Zealand, 1913–1919.” Musicology Australia 39/1 (2017): 1–14. 


Searches for Tradition: Essays on New Zealand Music, Past & Present, co-edited with Michael Brown. Wellington: Victoria University Press, 2017.


“London, Leipzig or Local? ­– German Musical Influence and the Establishment of a New Zealand Conservatorium of Music, 1906–8.” In Searches for Tradition: Essays on New Zealand Music, Past & Present, ed. Michael Brown & Samantha Owens. Wellington: Victoria University Press, 2017. 46–58.


“‘The Greatest Choral Work That Has Ever Been Written’: Wellington Performances of J. S. Bach’s St Matthew Passion, 1899–1945.” Understanding Bach 9 (2014): 75–86. 


with Janice B. Stockigt, “Haydn’s Creation ‘Shamelessly Mangled’ in Melbourne: Joseph Summers and a Musical Libel Action against the Age (1893).” In A Musicological Gift: Libro Homenaje for Jane Morlet Hardie, ed. Kathleen Nelson & Maricarmen Gómez. Lions Bay, BC: Institute of Mediaeval Music, 2013. 255–282.


“Robert Dalley-Scarlett (1887–1959) and Handel Reception in Australia between the World Wars.” Musicology Australia 34 (2012): 165–183.


“‘Serious Music’: The Brisbane Reception of Percy Grainger’s Historical Chamber Music Recitals (1934).” In Grainger the Modernist, ed. Suzanne Robinson & Kay Dreyfus. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2015. 181–199.


  • Editing
  • Indexing
  • Public speaking
  • Research
  • Writing


  • Heritage
  • Local
  • Performing arts
  • Women