The winner of the Corvisier Prize 2023

The President, Prof. Dr Massimo de Leonardis, announced on 13 June 2023 that the Jury, after a careful process of selection, decided to award the 2023 Corvisier Prize to Dr. Eamonn O’Keeffe for his PhD dissertation “Musical Warriors: British Military Music and Musicians during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars” held in History at the University of Oxford.

Musical Warriors: British Military Music and Musicians during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, a period which witnessed a strong increase in the number of military bands, is a fine example of dissertation on an original topic little explored by previous scholars. Dr O’Keeffe rightly interprets martial music-making as a core military activity and an integral part of wider musical culture, and maintains that attention to music reveals the depth and reciprocity of interactions between the military and society. For example, effective provision of instrumental education not only encouraged interest in musical soldiering but enabled veterans to find work as professional musicians after discharge.
Seven chapters consider all the aspects of the topic, discussing and, sometimes, revising previous historiography. The focus is on land forces but music in the Royal Navy is not neglected. Bands did not ordinarily play in combat, while pipers were expected to play alongside Highland soldiers in action. However, music fulfilled several practical roles on the battlefield and can be described as a “force multiplier”.
An impressive list of British, Canadian, Irish, New Zealander, and South African archives together with an equally exhaustive set of other sources demonstrates the Author’s critical rigour in dealing with his subject.

Dr. Eamonn O’Keeffe is currently a National Army Museum Junior Research Fellow in the History of the British Army, Queens’ College, Cambridge, and a Postdoctoral Research Associate of the Cambridge Centre for Geopolitics. He earned his B.A. in History, with honours, from the University of Oxford in 2017; the M.A., with honours, in Modern British History from the University of Cambridge in 2018; and in 2022 his Ph.D. in History from the University of Oxford.