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Elizabeth Dobbin

PhD candidate

E.M. Dobbin
+31 71 527 1480

Soprano Elizabeth Dobbin started piano and music theory lessons at the age of five in her native Australia, and has been involved with music ever since. After graduating from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Arts and a first-class honours degree in Law, Elizabeth initially worked in the field of corporate and finance law in Sydney and London while working professionally as a freelance singer.

More information about Elizabeth Dobbin

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A keen interest in early music drew her to pursue postgraduate studies at the Royal Conservatory, The Hague. There she studied with Rita Dams, Jill Feldman, Marius van Altena, and Michael Chance, and graduated with a Master’s degree in early music singing in 2008. Elizabeth co-founded the baroque ensemble, Le Jardin Secret, with whom she won the first prize and audience prize at the Early Music Network International Young Artists’ Competition in York, England. She has recorded several critically-acclaimed CDs with the group and recently released a new recording for Fuga Libera of the airs sérieux of Jean-Baptiste de Bousset (1662-1725), marking the re-discovery and modern premier of these works. Elizabeth has performed as a soloist and in chamber and choral formations across Europe. Recent solo highlights include an artistic residency at the Trigonale Early Music Festival, performances at the Festival van Vlaanderen, the Resonanzen Festival, the Arolser Barock Festspiele, the Lufthansa Baroque Festival, the London Handel Festival, the York Early Music Festival, the Brighton Early Music Festival, live broadcasts for the BBC and a tour of Spain with Le Jardin Secret. She has recorded for Coro, Alpha, Pentatone, Aliud, O.R.F. and Fuga Libera. Elizabeth is a keen educator, and has taught masterclasses in the UK and Europe. She is currently head of the Early Music Department at the Haute École de Musique, Genève.


The airs sérieux in the Recueils d’airs sérieux et à boire de différents auteurs, 1695-1724: singing and gallant conversation

Every month from 1695 to 1724, the Ballard music printing house in Paris published a collection of vocal works entitled the Recueils d’airs sérieux et à boire de différents auteurs. The publication rhythm of the collection made this a reactive series, which responded to the musical tastes of its market audience. Work done to date on an earlier Ballard publication of airs suggests that airs were sung as accompanying embellishments to, or even as substitutes for, the conversations that the cultural elite engaged in within the context of salon entertainment. However, despite the significant role played by the Recueils as a barometer on musical taste, little scholarly attention has been devoted to this source of vocal repertoire. The question as to how the airs sérieux in the collection would have been performed also remains unanswered.

This study investigates in depth the airs sérieux in the Recueils. Using information gathered from an examination of the many references to the singing of this genre in contemporaneous literature, diaries, treatises, and art, the original salon performance context of the air will be re-constructed. Such a re-construction will aim to demonstrate that by embedding the performance of song within gallant conversation as practised in the seventeenth- and early-eighteenth-century salon, subtle but significant differences are discernible for the singer and audience alike.

Insights gained from this endeavour will be documented in order to foster an understanding of the way in which the performance of the serious air requires a vocal approach which draws on, yet is also distinct from, the practices of singing French stage and operatic music from the same period. It is hoped that one of the by-products of the present study will be to promote an awareness of the relatively unknown Recueils as an equally rich source of vocal treasures.

Grants and awards

  • 1st prize and audience prize - Early Music Network International Young Artists' Competition, York (2007)
  • John Maddison Law Foundation Scholarship (1994)
  • The Webb prize for distinction (1992, 1993)
  • Maccallum Prize for English Literature (1991)
  • Maude Stiles Prize for a woman student in English 1 (1991)
  • Josiah Symon Scholarship no 1 (1991)

PhD candidate

  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Academie der Kunsten


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