John Griffiths joined the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music as Head of School from the beginning of 2015. He is one of the most senior musicologists in Australia today with an extensive international reputation as both a researcher and performer. His scholarly work and his performance activities centre around early plucked instruments —lutes, vihuelas and guitars— in renaissance Spain and Italy.
Concerning his most recent CD Intimate vihuela (Contrastes Records, CR2201405) published in 2014, has been praised in the press for its “interpretative warmth, of course, an accomplished technique that does not smudge the exquisite lines, but above all the character and expressiveness. He knows how to convey the calmness and delicacy that underlies the repertory, and especially that expressive capacity, that evocative power and the depth that is buried within every piece” (Doce notas, April 2015).
His scholarly work covers broad areas from the social history of Renaissance music, early music printing, historical music pedagogy, organology, connections between written and oral traditions, and music in urban society, as well as detailed analytical studies of sixteenth-century musical repertoire. Notable contributions include landmark studies on the Spanish vihuela fantasia, unravelling the music printing industry in sixteenth-century Spain, and the rediscovery of the Neapolitan tradition of lute playing in the sixteenth-century. In recognition of this work Professor Griffiths has received numerous accolades including being awarded the Cross of Officer of the Order of Isabel the Catholic by King Juan Carlos I of Spain in 1993, election to the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 2006 and as a Corresponding Member of the American Musicological Society in 2014.