Faculty Profile: Joshua Rifkin

Joshua Rifkin

Photo by Jan Kobel.

Position: Professor of Music (Musicology and Ethnomusicology)

B.S., The Julliard School; M.F.A., Princeton University. Joshua Rifkin’s life as a musician and scholar has spanned Renaissance motets and ragtime masters, Bach cantatas and Baroque Beatles. He has conducted major orchestras, ensembles, and opera companies throughout much of the world, and compiled an extensive discography ranging from the fifteenth-century chanson master Antoine Busnoys to Mexican modernist Silvestre Revueltas. The Bach Ensemble, which he founded in 1978, won Britain’s Gramophone Award for its pathbreaking recording of the Mass in B Minor, and has toured widely in the U.S. and Europe. Rifkin’s list of scholarly publications covers topics from the Renaissance to the nineteenth century, with particular emphasis on Josquin Desprez, Heinrich Schütz, and J. S. Bach; his edition of the B Minor Mass, published by Breitkopf & Härtel, presented the first critical text of this standard work. Subjects of recent studies include authenticity and chronology in Josquin; provenance and production of Renaissance music manuscripts; stylistic development of the motet around 1500; album entries by Heinrich Schütz; questions of performance in Bach; and Anton Webern’s relationship to early music.

Joshua Rifkin has received honorary doctorates from the University of Dortmund, Germany, and the Academy of Music in Krakow, Poland. His most recent CD, Vivat Leo! Music for a Medici Pope with the vocal ensemble Cappella Pratensis, has won France’s Diapason d’or. With the Bach Ensemble, he directs the festival Bach: Sommer in Arnstadt, Germany, and he has held the first residence at the Huis van de Polyfonie established by the Alamire Foundation in Leuven, Belgium.