choir at garden party


Musical life at Fitzwilliam is active, varied and stimulating, and we aspire to the highest standards in both practical and academic music - in 2012 we were ranked top in the University for music Tripos results.

Practical Music

There are opportunities for all students both to participate in and to listen to music of a high standard and in a great range of styles. Fitzwilliam College Music Society (find us on Facebook at Fitz Music Society) organises frequent concerts and provides musical opportunities for all members of the College, whatever their musical tastes or level of accomplishment. Fitzwilliam has a large and thriving Chapel Choir which performs concerts in Cambridge and further afield as well as singing regular Sunday services. Our musicians also regularly join with performers from nearby colleges in ensemble such as Orchestra on the Hill. Fitzwilliam is also home to two long-established a capella ensembles, Fitz Barbershop and The Sirens, and is the base for Fitzwilliam Chamber Opera, the only permanent collegiate opera group in Cambridge.

College music benefits greatly from the frequent involvement of professional musicians, particularly the Fitzwilliam String Quartet, who were founded at the College in 1968 and have since achieved an international reputation; the Quartet returns to College regularly to give concerts and to work with student performers and ensembles. Their performances form part of Fitzwilliam Professional Recitals, an annual season of public concerts held in the College's award-winning Auditorium.

Distinguished Fitzwilliam music alumni include composer Sir Henry Walford Davies (Master of the King's Musick 1934-41), writer and broadcaster Humphrey Burton CBE, conductor David Atherton OBE, musicologists Professor Simon Keefe, Dr Alan Brown and Professor Mervyn Cooke, violinists Roger Garland and Nicholas Dowding, violist Martin Outram, oboist Rachel Frost, bass Matthew Waldren, jazz pianist Colin Purbrook, opera director John Ramster, songwriter Nick Drake, composer Nicholas Marshall and recorder player John Turner.

To find out more about practical music in the college, enquire about putting on a concert or how to get involved in the huge amount of music on at Fitzwilliam College email the Director of Music Catherine Groom (

Studying Music

Three students are normally admitted to read for the Music Tripos every year; an Organ Scholar (who may or may not read Music) is elected every other year; and there are eight Choral Scholars. Students reading Music are taught through formal lectures in the Music Faculty and through College Supervisions - held either on a one-to-one basis for subjects requiring individual attention (such as Harmony and Counterpoint), or in groups of two or three where broader discussion is beneficial (History, Analysis and so forth). These weekly sessions are designed to support and complement the lectures, and the Faculty also provides practical classes in Aural skills and Keyboard Harmony. Supervisions are taught by a team of specialist subject supervisors appointed by the Director of Studies in Music, and include senior faculty members, postdoctoral researchers and external scholars. The College's impressive new library houses one of the largest music collections in the University.


For all enquiries about studying music at Fitzwilliam, or to arrange an informal visit at any time, please contact the Director of Studies in Music Francis Knights.