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Performance Practice

The Doctor of Musical Arts in Keyboard Studies at Cornell is a specialized advanced degree designed for professional caliber performers who wish to combine the performance of specific repertories with research, teaching, and writing about those repertories. Focused on keyboard music of the 17th-21st centuries, the program is highly competitive, admitting only one new student each year to study with performers on the professorial faculty. Keyboard music is divided into areas of specialization, such as 17th–18th-century keyboard performance (fortepiano, organ, harpsichord, clavichord), 19th–20th – century performance practices (fortepiano, organ and modern piano) and 21st-century keyboard practice (digital technologies and new media).  Although there are curricular requirements, the program is flexible and is developed individually in consultation with the student’s Special Committee.  Students may combine their study in the Field of Music (historical musicology, ethnomusicology, theory, composition, and performance practice) with work in other Fields at Cornell.

Students are expected to take full advantage of Cornell University’s community of practicing musicians and scholars, working closely with musicologists, composers and fellow students to combine skills gained from lessons, practicing, and performing with knowledge and insights gathered from library research and seminar work. Cornell’s Keyboard Studies D.M.A. aims to balance professional training and scholarly endeavor, reflecting Cornell’s distinguished tradition of musical scholarship, its eminent faculty in musicology and composition, and its outstanding library system. Performers who hope to teach on a college level must be competent at a broad range of academic musical subjects; candidates will thus be expected to pursue excellence in both spheres, the professional and the scholarly.

Cornell has historically been highly visible as a center for keyboard studies.  It has an outstanding collection of world-class instruments, which includes, in addition to modern piano, at least five fortepianos, three harpsichords, and four organs.  Fortepiano pioneer and Professor Emeritus Malcolm Bilson continues to teach performance in the program, alongside Professors Xak Bjerken, Annette Richards, and David Yearsley.  Performers can expect to work with all members of the musicology faculty (those with particular interests in performance practice and keyboard culture include Roger Moseley, Rebecca Harris Warrick, and Neal Zaslaw).  In the area of contemporary keyboard studies, there are many opportunities for interaction with the composition program at Cornell.  In addition, Cornell is the home of the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies (spanning the earliest keyboard repertories to present day keyboard culture, see, as well as a journal, Keyboard Perspectives, that emphasizes the symbiosis of scholarship and performance.

For detailed information regarding the Performance Practice program, please see the Performance Practice Pamphlet here.