Dr. Giovanni VarelliBack to People

Department: Music
College appointment: Prize Fellow in Music
Phone: 01865-286687


After completing his BA in Musicology at the University of Pavia, Giovanni Varelli studied at Royal Holloway, University of London and completed his PhD at Cambridge University (St John’s College) with a dissertation on the earliest surviving music manuscripts from the north-Italian abbey of Nonantola. In addition to musicological research, Giovanni worked as research assistant for the Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music (2009), as consultant musical palaeographer for the British Library Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts (2010), and recently as a cataloguer of medieval manuscripts and fragments for the Universities of Padova and Bolzano/Bozen (2016). In February 2016 Giovanni was elected Prize Fellow (Fellow by Examination) in Music at Magdalen College, Oxford.

Research Interests

Giovanni Varelli is currently working on musical notations in early-medieval Italy, focusing in particular on cognitive processes in the development of music writing and on the influence of the contemporary political and ecclesiastical context on music book production.

His research interests span from Latin palaeography and codicology, early medieval and carolingian liturgy, music theory and notation, philology and reception history, manuscripts digital restoration and conservation techniques, to ethnomusicology and dialectology.


In Hilary 2019, Giovanni will teach an elective course on ‘Music and Writing’ for the Master of Studies in Music at the Oxford Music Faculty.

Selected Publications

Disiecta Membra Musicae. Studies in Musical Fragmentology, ed. G. Varelli (Berlin: de Gruyter, forthcoming 2020).

How did Musical Notation Travel? Singers, Manuscripts and Routes (ca. 760–1100), in Material Cultures of Music Notation, ed. F. Schuiling and E. Payne (Abingdon: Routledge, forthcoming 2020).

‘Le passiones Sebastiani, Nazari et Celsi e Christophori in un frammento inedito di passionario in minuscola retica’, forthcoming in Analecta Bollandiana 137/1 (2019).

Aspects of Visuality in Nonantolan Music Script, in Von der Oralität zum SchriftBild. Visuelle Kultur und musikalische Notation (9. – 11. Jh.), ed. M. Nanni (Geissen, forthcoming 2019).

‘I frammenti medievali nelle legature degli incunaboli di Novacella nell’Universität- und Landesbibliothek Tirol’ in La ricerca sulle fonti musicali in Trentino-Alto Adige / Die musikalische Quellenforschung in Trentino-Suedtirol, ed. G. Gabrielli (Lucca: Libreria Musicale Italiana, forthcoming 2019).

‘Appunti sulla nonantolana come più antico canone notazionale di area italiana’ in Studi Gregoriani 30 (2015), pp. 47-76.

‘Two Newly-Discovered Tenth-Century Organa’ in Early Music History 32 (2013), pp. 277-315.

‘The Early Transmission of Chant in Northern Italy: The Evidence of Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana, B 48 sup., ff. 141-142’ in Études Grégoriennes XL (2013), pp. 253-282.

‘Rhythm, Pitch and Text Setting in Palaeofrankish Notation: The Case of London, British Library, Harley MS 3019’ in Cantus Planus: Papers Read at the 16th Meeting of the IMS Study Group, Vienna, Austria, Aug. 21 – 27 2011, ed. Robert Klugseder (Vienna-Purkersdorf: Hollinek, 2012), pp. 409-414.

‘Liturgia e musica a Polirone: le testimonianze manoscritte nei codici della Biblioteca Teresiana di Mantova’ in Rivista Internazionale di Musica Sacra 32/2 (2011), pp. 157-192.