Dr Raymond Curtis Ockenden

After completing his Oxford undergraduate studies in German and French, an exploratory year as a schoolmaster and a year as a graduate student at Balliol, Dr. Ray Ockenden took up a post as lecturer in German at Bedford College London. After seven years there he joined Wadham College as its first Fellow in German in 1967, and has been teaching German literature and language for the University and for many other Oxford colleges ever since. 

At Wadham, where he is now an Emeritus Fellow, he has fulfilled several College offices, such as Dean, Senior Tutor and Sub-Warden, and he looked after the College cellar for 24 years; since 2003 he has been Wadham’s Dean of Degrees.

Ray's research work, like his tutorial teaching and lecturing, has been concerned with German literature, especially poetry, from 1750 to the present day. He has written about Goethe, especially his classical verse, and the later poetry of Brecht. His most recent publications have examined the work and influence of Stefan George, a significant poet of the early 20thcentury; he has two forthcoming essays on Mörike's poetry. The musicality of Mörike’s verse has always been a particular interest for him; his first encounters with Wolf’s song-settings came when he lectured on Mörike’s poetry together with a colleague who played some of them as an accompaniment. 

His earliest musical memories include meeting Gerald Finzi when singing his seven Bridges songs as a schoolboy, performing in the Gurrelieder with the Heidelberg Bach Choir when a young Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau was soloist, and being coached by a young Colin Davies in opera choruses for the Chelsea Opera Group’s visits to Oxford.

Apart from enjoying his love of teaching, of poetry and of wine, Ray is an enthusiastic concert-goer and an active, long-standing member of the Oxford Bach Choir.  

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