Honorary Professor Samantha Owens

Honorary Professor

School of Music
Faculty of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences


Samantha’s research and postgraduate supervision centres on historical performance practices and performance cultures. Her published output comprises two main strands. First: the influence and reception of German music and musicians in Australasia, 1850–1950 (including itinerant German bands, and the music of J. S. Bach) and the history of listening cultures in Australasia during the first half of the 20th century (including the impact of the gramophone and radio broadcasting). And, second: early modern German court music (in particular the Württemberg Hofkapelle); professional women musicians in the 17th and 18th centuries; the early history of the orchestra and oboe bands (Hautboistenbande); and John Sigismond Cousser (Kusser) and the musical life of early 18th-century Dublin.

She is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities (from 2012), and has also held visiting fellowships at the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel, Germany (2004); Clare Hall, University of Cambridge (2007–2008); and, as an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Research Fellow, at the Institut für Musik, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg (2009–2010) and the Bach-Archiv in Leipzig, Germany (2018).

In 2011–2017, Samantha was an Associate and (from 2015) International Investigator with the Australian Research Council's Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions: Europe 1100–1800. 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). Most recently, she received funding from the Lilburn Trust for hosting a scholarly symposium on Music in Colonial New Zealand Cities (November 2022); an edited volume of the papers is currently in preparation.

From 1994 until 2023, Samantha taught papers on historical performance practice, the history of Western European music of the 17th and 18th centuries, and the history of Western art music in New Zealand, 1850–1950 (including jazz, classical and popular music). She was employed full time at the University of Queensland from 2001 until 2015 (Lecturer–Associate Professor). In 2015 she returned to New Zealand, where she held the positions of Associate Professor (2015–2018) and Professor of Musicology (2019–2024) at the New Zealand School of Music – Te Kōkī.

Samantha has been the editor of numerous scholarly books and works as a freelance indexer; her index for Music at German Courts: Changing Artistic Priorities (Boydell Press, 2011) won the 2012 medal of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Indexers.

Research Impacts

Samantha has presented the results of her research as radio talks and interviews (in both English and German), including for Radio New Zealand (National and Concert), Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC Radio National and Classic FM), Deutscher Rundfunk (WDR) and Südwestrundfunk (SWR), as well as giving regular pre-concert talks, including at Wigmore Hall (London), Dublin Castle, Kilkenny Castle, Staatsoper Stuttgart, Württembergische Landesbibliothek, and for Musica Viva Australia, Chamber Music New Zealand and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

In 2017, together with Dr Michael Brown (Curator Music, Alexander Turnbull Library), she curated the exhibition ‘An Ornament to the Town’: The Band Rotunda in New Zealand, at the National Library of New Zealand (March–June 2017) and Aratoi: Wairarapa Museum of Art & History (September–November 2017).


  • Australian Academy of the Humanities, Australian Academy of the Humanities
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Victoria University of Wellington
  • Bachelor (Honours), Victoria University of Wellington
  • Bachelor of Music, Victoria University of Wellington


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