Dr Berta Joncus, BA (New York), MA (Bonn), DPhil (Oxon)

Berta researches the eighteenth-century London stage, European vocal music, European popular music before 1800.

Staff details

Dr Berta Joncus, BA (New York), MA (Bonn), DPhil (Oxon)


Reader in Music




b.joncus (@gold.ac.uk)

From 2007 to 2009 she was a lecturer in music at St Anne’s and St Hilda’s colleges of Oxford University, where she had been a post-doctoral research fellow (2004–2007) and earned her DPhil degree (1999–2004).

Before studying at Oxford, she was an editor at the New Grove Dictionary of Music, working with Stanley Sadie. She took her MA at the University of Bonn, Germany and worked earlier as professional singer after finishing a performance degree at the Franz Schubert Conservatory of Vienna.

As a scholar, Berta focuses on celebrity culture and the role of the performer in creating musical works. Her other area of specialization is music editorship and source studies in the digital age. Her monograph Kitty Clive, or The Fair Songster(2019) is a bold re-reading of Clive's music as a medium of the singer-actor's onstage artistry.

Berta's 2020 edition for Bärenreiter of the 1762 pastiche opera Love in a Village is the first-ever critical hybrid score – that is, a bound publication with notes and digitized primary sources online – of an English work. Pursuing her interest in lost and marginalised voices, Berta has most recently been researching, writing and presenting on pre-1800 transatlantic Black music. 

Berta is a critic for BBC Music Magazine and a regular guest on BBC Radio 3, as well as a member of the Handel Institute Council and co-editor of Music & Letters.

Areas of supervision

Berta supervises studies that consider how performers' creative practices shape scores, conventions and reception. While specialising in eighteenth-century subjects, she has advised on topics ranging from Early Modern Florentine nunneries to 20th-century Serbian art song. She welcomes hearing about possible topics for supervision from nascent doctoral students.

Awards, grants and media appearances

The British Academy awarded Berta a Post-Doctoral Fellowship (2004–2007), which she completed at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford. She reviews recordings for the BBC Music Magazine, an engagement she considers vital in view of the low numbers of women in arts criticism.

She presents regularly for BBC radio and television, the English National Opera, the Barbican, and Early Music festivals in the UK and USA. Her book Kitty Clive, or The Fair Songster was published by Boydell Press in June 2019 and is to be nominated for the H. Robert Cohen Book Award of the American Musicological Society.

Publications and research outputs


Joncus, Berta. 2019. Kitty Clive, or The Fair Songster. Martlesham, Suffolk: Boydell & Brewer. ISBN 9781783273461

Edited Book

Joncus, Berta and Barlow, Jeremy, eds. 2011. "The Stage's Glory": John Rich (1692-1761). Newark, Delaware: University of Delaware Press. ISBN 9781611490329

Joncus, Berta and Bucciarelli, Melania, eds. 2007. Music as Social and Cultural Practice: Essays in Honour of Reinhard Strohm. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell & Brewer. ISBN 9781843833178

Edited Journal

Joncus, Berta, ed. 2009. Eighteenth-Century Music, Eighteenth-Century Music, . 1478-5706

Book Section

Joncus, Berta. 2021. Handel for the Common Sphere. In: Helen Coffey and Annette Landgraf, eds. Handel in Context. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Joncus, Berta. 2020. ‘When Farce and when Musick can eke out a Play’: Ballad Opera and Theatre’s Commerce. In: Delia da Sousa Correa, ed. The Edinburgh Companion to Literature and Music. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp. 289-296. ISBN 9780748693122

Burrows, Donald and Joncus, Berta. 2017. Music and Representation. In: Joanna Marschner, ed. Enlightened Princesses: Caroline, Augusta, Charlotte, and the Shaping of the Modern World. New Haven: Yale Center for British Art, pp. 202-207. ISBN 9780300217100


Joncus, Berta. 2020. Fixing her Reputation: Giulia Frasi and her Ranelagh Garden Concerts. Händel-Jahrbuch, 66, pp. 137-180. ISSN 0440-0615

Joncus, Berta. 2014. Review of Suzanne Aspden, 'The Rival Sirens: Performance and Identity on Handel’s Operatic Stage'. Music & Letters, 95(1), pp. 96-99. ISSN 0027-4224

Joncus, Berta. 2014. Opera librettos and British politics. Early Music, 42(2), pp. 297-299. ISSN 0306-1078

Conference or Workshop Item

Joncus, Berta. 2023. 'British Abolition Song Exported: Sounding Sentiment in Early America'. In: Voices and Agencies: America and the Atlantic, 1600-1865. Seminar series. Leibniz University, Hanover, Germany 7 July 2023.

Joncus, Berta. 2022. '“Zealous partisans of both, I think, must have applauded”: Kitty Clive, Regina Mingotti and Mimic Italian Song'. In: Nach der Norm: Musikwissenschaft. 21. Jahrhundert. Jahrestagung der Gesellschaft für Musikforschung, Berlin, 2022. Humboldt University, Germany 28 September - 1 October 2022.

Joncus, Berta. 2021. 'Handel in the Drawing-room: Women of Quality as Influencers of Britain's Music'. In: The Handel House Trust Handeliade. Spring Hill, Moreton-in-Marsh, United Kingdom 23 - 26 September 2021.


Joncus, Berta. 2011. Handel in the Pleasure Gardens.

Joncus, Berta and Bostridge, Ian. 2010. Ian Bostridge and the Three Tenors: Beard, Borosini, Fabri.


Joncus, Berta. 2022. Prom 10: Music for Royal Occasions.

Joncus, Berta. 2016. Record Review. BBC Radio 3, ‘Handel: Alcina’.

Joncus, Berta. 2011. Music Matters, Funding Cuts to HEI Music Teaching.

Exhibition Catalogue

Joncus, Berta. 2008. "Curse them all for a Parcel of Italian Bitches": The Prima Donna versus the English Singer-Actress.


Joncus, Berta. 2010. Beard- Borosini- Fabri: The Three Baroque Tenors.


Joncus, Berta. 2023. Musical Abolitionism. In: "Abolitionism and the Arts in the Long Eighteenth Century: An interdisciplinary symposium", Columbia University, United States, 6 May 2023.

Professional Activity

Joncus, Berta. 2018. Editorial Board Member, Eighteenth-Century Music (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009–present).

Joncus, Berta. 2015. Annual Awards Jury Member, BBC Music Magazine.

Joncus, Berta. 2015. Critic. BBC Music Magazine. Renaissance and Baroque music.


Joncus, Berta; Burden, Michael; Rogers, Vanessa L. and Lipinski, Thaddeus. 2008 to present Ballad Opera Online.


Joncus, Berta. 2023. Abolitionism and the Arts in the Long Eighteenth Century. Symposium and Concert at Columbia University 6 May 2023. Columbia University, New York.

Joncus, Berta. 2021. Material Benefits of the Immaterial: Academic Publishing in the Digisphere. CHASE Doctoral Training Day, 10 September 2021. Consortium for the Humanities and the Arts South-East England AHRC funded Doctoral Training Partnership.

Joncus, Berta; Ozmo, Žak and Rogers, Vanessa. 2020. Love in a Village: A Comic Opera. Bärenreiter, Kassel, Germany.

Research Interests

Berta looks at eighteenth-century stage music as an outgrowth of celebrity culture, drawing on her fluency in German, French and Italian as well as English to synthesize perspectives.

Berta’s 2019 book on singer-actress and radical feminist Kitty Clive (1711–1785) elaborates her historical interests in great detail; re-thinking agency in stardom, Berta shows how the onstage performer altered stage works – Handel’s Messiah included – to her advantage. Berta is an authority on British ballad opera, which she analyses as both genre and social force.

Transatlantic Black music of the past, and its impact on London, is Berta’s newest strand of research, which she pursues in partnership with scholars and institutions in the UK (Historic Royal Palaces, Foundling Museum, Handel & Hendrix in London museum), USA (Yale University and the Paul Mellon Centre) and Lagos, Nigeria (MUSON Centre).

As a music editor, Berta has long been fascinated with the impact of digitization and computational tools. Her 2007 output for the British Academy, Ballad Operas Online, was the first web-based resource for this repertory. She is senior editor of the pasticcio opera Love in a Village (1762). Published by Bärenreiter and the Mainz Academy of Sciences and Literature for their OPERA series, Love in Village is both a hard-copy critical edition and an online environment where users can compare editorial reports to digitized primary sources.