Catherine Fahy

Catherine’s research takes place within the field of Word-and-Music Studies and concerns the relationship between music and melancholia in the work of the modernist writer Samuel Beckett. Her project is supervised by Dr Catherine Laws (Department of Music) and Dr Emilie Morin (Department of English) and engages with the role of music in the philosophical systems underpinning Beckett’s pre-war and wartime work. The project focuses in on the interaction between this philosophical exploration of music in the early novels and Beckett’s self-directed study of psychology and psychoanalysis in the 1930s.

In 2018 Catherine completed an IPS Fellowship at The Harry Ransom Humanities Research Centre in Austin Texas which provided access to manuscripts in the Samuel Beckett Collection and the Carlton Lake Collection of Samuel Beckett’s Papers. In October 2019 Catherine will also be singing in the first UK performance of ‘Nice Day for the Races’, Michael Webster’s operatic adaption of Beckett’s radio play All that Fall.

As a soprano Catherine performs works by contemporary composers, recent performances include ‘Dark at Teatime’ by Dominic Floyd at Leeds International Lieder Festival and Helen Madden’s opera Medea Maria, based on the life of soprano Maria Callas, at York Theatre Royal as part of York Literature Festival. In December 2018 Catherine also completed a WRoCAH funded REP with in Los Angeles:

In 2019/2020 Catherine will be running the  Humanities Research Centre’s ‘Composer and Poets Forum’, supported by a small-project grant from the Centre for Modern Studies. The aim of the project is to bring together composers and poets from the White Rose Consortium (University of Leeds, University of Sheffield and University of York) to create new art-song that responds to contemporary themes.

Published Reviews

  • György Kurtág’s “Samuel Beckett: Fin de partie: scènes et monologues, opéra en un acte”, Dutch National Opera and Ballet (Radio Philharmonic Orchestra) – The Beckett Circle, Spring 2019.

Selected Conference Papers and Symposium Presentations

‘Dream states and the musicality of intersubjectivity: Exploring The ‘tuning scene’ from Samuel Beckett’s Wartime novel Watt’. Dreams and Atrocities Symposium, University of Sheffield, September 2020.

‘“…into Murphy’s heart it would not enter”: Rameau, Rosseau and Harmonic Contradictions in Samuel Beckett’s Murphy’.Beckett and Italy: “old chestnuts”, new occasions’, University of Reading. November 2019.

‘“But what, it may be enquired, was the music of this Threne?”: Aristoxenus and the Elementa Harmonica’. Samuel Beckett Summer School Symposium, Trinity College Dublin. August 2019.

Watt: Music, Memory and Affect’, ‘Transdisciplinary Beckett: Annual Samuel Beckett Society Conference’, Mexico City. November 2018

‘Musical notation in the Watt Manuscripts: Project Update’. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Centre, Austin, Texas. October 2018.



Catherine holds a full WRoCAH Scholarship