University Organist and Professor of Music
Annette Richards is Professor of Music and University Organist at Cornell, and the Executive Director of the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies. She is a performer and scholar with a specialty in 18th-century music and aesthetics, and interdisciplinary research into music, literature and visual culture. She is founding editor of Keyboard Perspectives, a yearbook dedicated to historical performance and keyboard culture, but her scholarly work extends far beyond the organ and its music. She is particularly interested in the music and music aesthetics of mid- to late-18th century Germany, and especially C. P. E. Bach. Her book The Free Fantasia and the Musical Picturesque (Cambridge, 2001) explores the intersections between musical fantasy and the landscape garden in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century music across German-speaking Europe and England.
She is editor of C. P. E Bach Studies (Cambridge, 2006) and rediscovered and reconstructed that composer’s extraordinary collection of musical portraits, published by the Packard Humanities Institute in 2012. With David Yearsley she has edited the complete organ works of C. P. E. Bach for the C. P. E. Bach: Complete Works edition. Recent topics she has written on include portraiture and the invention of music history, Handel and charity, graveyard poetry and musical approaches to death in the later 18th century, and the glass harmonica and virgin warriors around 1800.
Prize-winner in international organ competitions at Dublin and Bruges, Annette Richards gives concerts frequently in North America and Europe. Among her CDs are the Complete Works of Melchior Schildt (on the Loft label) played on the historic organ at Roskilde Cathedral, Denmark; and her recording of music from the library of Princess Anna Amalia of Prussia, recorded on the new Schnitger-style organ at Cornell.
Educated at Oxford University, (BA, MA) Stanford University (PhD) and the Sweelinck Conservatorium Amsterdam (Performer’s Diploma, Uitvoerend Musicus), where she was a student of Jacques van Oortmerssen, her honors include fellowships at the Stanford Humanities Center, the Getty Center in Santa Monica and from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. In 2011 she celebrated the completion of an early 18th-century-style organ at Cornell, the culmination of an ambitious 10-year research and construction project she led in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Gothenburg, and in upstate New York.
At Cornell Prof. Richards teaches courses on eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century music aesthetics and criticism; intersections between music and visual culture; music and the uncanny; the undergraduate history survey; the organ, culture and technology; as well as organ performance.
Professor Emeritus, Department of Music
Malcolm Bilson has been in the forefront of the period-instrument movement for over thirty years. A member of the Cornell Music Department since 1968, he began his pioneering activity in the early 1970s as a performer of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert on late 18th- and early 19th-century pianos. Since then he has proven to be a key contributor to the restoration of the fortepiano to the concert stage and to fresh recordings of the “mainstream” repertory. In addition to an extensive career as a soloist and chamber player, Bilson has toured with the English Baroque Soloists with John Eliot Gardiner, the Academy of Ancient Music with Christopher Hogwood, the Philharmonia Baroque under Nicholas McGegan, Tafelmusik of Toronto, Concerto Köln and other early and modern instrument orchestras around the world. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by Bard College and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Mr. Bilson has recorded the three most important complete cycles of works for piano by Mozart: the piano concertos with John Eliot Gardiner and the English Baroque Soloists, the piano-violin Sonatas with Sergiu Luca, and the solo piano sonatas. His traversal on period pianos of the Schubert piano sonatas (including the so-called incomplete sonatas) was completed in 2003, and in 2005 a single CD of Haydn sonatas will appear on the Claves label. In the fall of 1994 Bilson and six of his former artist-pupils from Cornell’s D.M.A. program in historical performance practice presented the 32 piano sonatas of Beethoven in New York City, the first time ever that these works had been given as a cycle on period instruments. The New York Times said that “what emerged in these performances was an unusually clear sense of how revolutionary these works must have sounded in their time.” The recording of this series garnered over fifty very positive reviews and has recently been reissued.
In addition to his activities in Cornell’s performance-practice program, Professor Bilson teaches piano to both graduate and undergraduate students. He is also adjunct professor at the Eastman School of Music. He gives annual summer fortepiano workshops at various locations in the United States and Europe, as well as master classes and lectures (generally in conjunction with solo performances) around the world. In his educational video entitled “Knowing the Score,” released in 2005, Bilson discusses the question: Do we really know how to read the notation of the so-called ‘classical’ masters?
Professor, Department of Music
Pianist Xak Bjerken has appeared with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Spoleto Festival Orchestra, Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra, the Schoenberg Ensemble, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Disney Hall. He has performed at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Glinka Hall in St Petersburg, the Konzerthaus in Berlin, and for many years performed throughout the US as a member of the Los Angeles Piano Quartet. He has performed with the Cuarteto Casals, the Prazak, New Zealand, and Miami string quartets, and held chamber music residencies at the Tanglewood Music Center, Spoleto Festival and Olympic Music Festival. He is the director of Ensemble X, a new music ensemble, and has served on the faculty of Kneisel Hall, the Eastern Music Festival, and at the Chamber Music Conference at Bennington College. Bjerken has worked closely with composers Győrgy Kurtag, Sofia Gubaidulina, Steven Stucky, and George Benjamin, and over the next two years, will be presenting premieres of piano concertos by Stephen Hartke, Elizabeth Ogonek, and Jesse Jones. He released his first solo recording on CRI in 2001, and has since recorded for Koch International, Chandos, Albany Records, Artona, and is about to release his third recording for Open G Records, presenting solo and chamber works by Steven Stucky. Xak Bjerken is Professor of Music at Cornell University where he co-directs Mayfest, an international chamber music festival with his wife, pianist Miri Yampolsky. Bjerken studied with Aube Tzerko at the University of California at Los Angeles and received his Master’s and Doctoral degrees from the Peabody Conservatory as a student of and teaching assistant to Leon Fleisher.
Mike Cheng-Yu Lee
Visiting Scholar–Artist in Residence
Awarded Second Prize and Audience Prize at the first Westfield International Fortepiano Competition by a jury that included Robert Levin and the late Christopher Hogwood, fortepianist Mike Cheng-Yu Lee’s performances have since garnered attention for the fresh perspectives they bring to familiar repertoire. For his debut recital in Australia he received a rare five-star review in Limelight Magazine: “Try as one might, it was hard to avoid cliché responses like ‘stunning’, even ‘electrifying’. I don’t think I have heard a Mozart recital quite like this. I heard things in Mozart’s music I had never thought possible and certainly had never encountered before.” The Bloomington Herald Times additionally writes: “As a keyboard performer, Lee really is a major talent, no doubt about it; I expect press notices to start coming before long in praise of his musicianship.”
Mike is an advocate of pianos that span the 18th- to the early 20th-centuries. Adept at working with both period and modern performers, he has appeared as fortepianist with the New World Symphony at the invitation of Michael Tilson Thomas and has collaborated with musicians from the Juilliard, Formosa, and Aizuri quartets, among others. As a devoted teacher, he has recently performed and given masterclasses at the Royal Academy of Music, Oberlin Conservatory, University of Southern California, Northwestern University, the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts.
Mike has served as Visiting Assistant Professor at Indiana University-Bloomington, Lecturer at the Australian National University, and Director of the ANU Keyboard Institute. As a published scholar, he has presented on issues of performance and analysis, form, and Lewinian transformational theory at the Society for Music Theory, the European Music Analysis Conference, the New England Conference of Music Theorists, and the Society for Music Analysis.
Mike studied at the Yale School of Music and holds a Ph.D. in musicology from Cornell University where he was awarded the Donald J. Grout Memorial Dissertation Prize. His teachers have included Malcolm Bilson, Boris Berman, and the renowned Haydn scholar James Webster. He is currently Visiting Scholar–Artist in Residence with the Cornell Center for Historical Keyboards and teaches in the undergraduate piano program and the DMA program in Performance Practice.
Associate Professor, Department of Music
Roger Moseley’s recent research focuses on intersections between keyboard music, digital games, and the diverse ways both can be played. In 2017, his first book, Keys to Play: Music as a Ludic Medium from Apollo to Nintendo, received the American Musicological Society’s Otto Kinkeldey Award, which recognizes “a musicological book of exceptional merit by a scholar beyond the early stages of his or her career.” The book was published under a Creative Commons license by the University of California Press and features audiovisual materials including music by Mozart, Beethoven, Bizet, Louis Couperin, and others recorded by Moseley and his Cornell colleagues Malcolm Bilson, Ariana Kim, Shin Hwang, and Matthew Hall.
Keys to Play is available here as a free download in a variety of formats.
Moseley has published essays on topics including the music of Brahms (on which he wrote his PhD dissertation), Chopin, Mozart, eighteenth-century keyboard improvisation, Guitar Hero, and media archaeology. He is also active as a collaborative pianist on modern and historical instruments. In 2017, he performed Mozart’s Keyboard Concerto in F, K. 459, on fortepiano with the Cornell Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Chris Younghoon Kim, which can be heard and viewed here.
Moseley is currently working on his second book, Romantic Artifacts: The Technological Disclosure of Nineteenth-Century Music, which subjects the songs of Schubert, the piano music of Chopin, and the orchestral music of Brahms to media-theoretical and music-analytical scrutiny.
Working with Postdoctoral Associate in Computational Music Theory Pedagogy Mark Gotham, Moseley leads the Department of Music’s current Active Learning Initiative project, which aims to transform the study of theory and musicianship via the integration of digital keyboards as networked communication devices as well as musical instruments.
Moseley regularly teaches undergraduate courses in music history, culture, theory, materials, techniques, and performance. His other course offerings include Music and Digital Gameplay and Thinking Media, a new interdisciplinary course featuring guest faculty from across the university.
Moseley’s graduate seminars have focused on ludomusicology (the study of music, games, and play, a scholarly field that his work helped establish), nineteenth-century music and its technological mediation, keyboard cultures and techniques, historical improvisation, virtuosity, and the music of Schubert. He has worked closely with graduate students on dissertations and publications addressing topics ranging from nineteenth-century technologies of musical stenography, representations of the devil on the Parisian stage, and Czerny‘s transcriptions of Beethoven to Nintendo’s Game & Watch and Yamaha’s Vocaloid Keyboard.
Two articles that originated as papers written by graduate students in Moseley’s seminars have been accepted for publication by the Journal of the American Musicological Society, and one by Nineteenth-Century Music.
After completing his PhD at UC Berkeley, Moseley held a Junior Research Fellowship at University College, Oxford, during which he earned an MMus with Distinction in Collaborative Piano from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. Prior to his arrival at Cornell in 2010, he lectured in music history and theory at the University of Chicago.
Pianist Miri Yampolsky made her orchestral debut as a soloist with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and maestro Zubin Mehta at the age of 16, playing Prokofiev Piano Concerto No.1. Since then, she appeared with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, the Israel Chamber Orchestra, as well as the Mainz Symphony, Orquesta Sinfonica de Valencia, Chicago Chamber Orchestra, National Orchestra of Johannesburg, Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, the Peninsula Music Festival orchestra and Cornell Symphony and Chamber Orchestra. A first prize winner of the Valencia International Piano Competition Prize Iturbi in Valencia, and the ARD International Music Competition in Munich, Ms. Yampolsky is an avid and active chamber musician, with appearances in festivals such as Tanglewood; Ravinia; Davos; Berlin Festwoche; Tucson Winter International Chamber Music Festival; Olympic Music Festival; Icicle Creek Chamber Music Festival; Peninsula Music Festival; Hitzacker “Music Days”; Schwetzingen Festival; Sessa “Musica d’Insieme” ; Citta di Castelo; Klassikfest Kaisrstuhl; Lucena International Piano Festival and Salzburg’s “Mozarteum”.
Yampolsky’s teachers include Hannah Shalgi, Michael Boguslavsky and Chaim Taub in Israel; Prof. Dmitri Bashkirov and Marta Gulyas at the Escuela Superior De Musica “Reina Sofia” in Madrid, and Leon Fleisher at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore. Yampolsky was a recipient of AICF scholarships between 1985-1996, and is on the faculty at Cornell University and is a co-artistic director of Mayfest. She lives with her husband, Xak Bjerken, and three children, Misha and Anna, and Maya.
Professor, Department of Music
David Yearsley was educated at Harvard College and Stanford University, where he received his Ph.D. in Musicology in 1994. At Cornell he continues to pursue his interests in the teaching, history, literature and performance of music. His musicological work investigates literary, social, and theological contexts for music and music making, and while he focuses on J. S. Bach, he has written on topics ranging from music and death to musical invention, from organology and performance to musical representations of public spaces in film, from musical travelers to the joys of the keyboard duet. At Cornell he has taught courses on Bach and Handel, surveys of Western Art Music, keyboard performance, the organ, music journalism, film music, and music theory.
David’s first book, Bach and the Meanings of Counterpoint (Cambridge, 2002) explodes long-held notions about the status of counterpoint in the mid-eighteenth century, and illuminates unexpected areas of the musical culture into which Bach’s most obsessive and complicated musical creations were released. Bach’s Feet: the Organ Pedals in European Culture (Cambridge, 2012) presents a new interpretation of the significance of the oldest and richest of European instruments—the organ—by investigating the German origins of the uniquely independent use of the feet in music-making. Delving into a range of musical, literary, and visual sources, Bach’s Feet pursues the wide-ranging cultural importance of this physically demanding art, from the blind German organists of the 15th century, through the central contribution of Bach’s music and legacy, to the newly-pedaling organists of the British Empire, and the sinister visions of Nazi propagandists.
His monograph Sex, Death and Minuets: Anna Magdalena Bach and Her Musical Notebooks is forthcoming from University of Chicago Press. In providing a range of literary, social, historical, and musical perspectives on the cherished musical manuscripts of J. S. Bach’s second wife, herself a gifted professional musician, this study radically revises our understanding of women in music in 18th-century Lutheran Germany and within the Bach family.
David’s current scholarly project has the working title Bach Laughs, and is a study of the composer as musical humorist.
His research has been supported by fellowships from the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, The American Council of Learned Socieites, and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation.
Also a committed journalist, David has been music critic for the Anderson Valley Advertiser since 1990; his weekly column can be read each Friday at counterpunch.org. A collection of his feuilletons, Bach and Taxes and Other Matters of Life and Death is in the works.
The only musician ever to win all the major prizes at the Bruges Early Music Festival, David continues to pursue an active career as a performer on keyboards historical and modern. A long-time member of the pioneering synthesizer ensemble Mother Mallard’s Portable Masterpiece Company, his recordings are available on the Musica Omnia and Loft labels.