In her work as a music historian and keyboard player, Annette Richards draws on her training in English literature, art history, musicology, and musical performance. Musical and visual aesthetics and criticism are of particular interest to her, as is music in literature, and changing attitudes and approaches to performance in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. 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 culture, ranging across German-speaking Europe to England. Other topics on which she has written include Mozart and musical automata, the German keyboard song and solitude, and Haydn and the grotesque. She is the editor of CPE Bach Studies (Cambridge, 2006), and, with David Yearsley, of the Organ Works of C. P. E. Bach for the new complete edition (Packard Humanities Institute, 2008). She is also the founding editor of Keyboard Perspectives. Prof. Richards is currently working on two projects: a reconstruction of the extraordinary collection of musical portraits belonging to C. P. E. Bach, and a book that expands on her work on death, fantasy, and the grotesque to explore the dark hermeneutics of musical life in the age of European enlightenment and revolution — Music and the Gothic on the Dark Side of 1800.
As a performer Annette Richards specializes in music of the Italian and North German Baroque, and has played concerts on numerous historic and modern instruments in Europe and the United States. She also regularly performs music from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and has won prizes in international competitions including the 1992 Dublin International Organ Competition and first prize for organ duo with David Yearsley at the Bruges Early Music Festival in 1994. Her CD Melchior Schildt and the North German Organ Art ( on the Loft label) was recorded on the historic organ at Roskilde Cathedral, Denmark.
Prof. Richards has won numerous honors, including fellowships at the Stanford Humanities Center, the Getty Center in Santa Monica and at the Society for the Humanities at Cornell. She has also held a New Directions Fellowship from the Mellon Foundation and a fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
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; music of the Baroque; and the organ and its musical culture, as well as organ performance. She has organized several conferences and concert festivals at the university, including “German Orpheus: C. P. E. Bach and North German Music Culture” (1998) and “British Modernism” (2003).
Prof. Richards is also the Executive Director of the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies.
Photo: Nicola Kountoupes, Cornell University Photography