Thomas Cressy


Thomas is currently exploring the academic intersection between anthropology, social theory, and musicology – with a focus on indexicality, affordance theory, atmosphere, and ethnographic approaches to music. His field site for his work has been Japan for the past five years, where he has been researching the Japanese reception and social conceptions of Johann Sebastian Bach’s music in particular. He has also conducted historical and archival work on the music of the foreign trading settlements of 19th century East Asia, and Japanese music conservatoires. He is currently a third year Ph.D student at Cornell University, where he hopes to delve deeper into Bach studies and historical source based approaches, alongside ethnomusicology and the anthropology of music; as well as developing earlier interests in critical theory, ludomusicology, and the uses of Western art music as a progressive and creative force in rock, metal, jazz, and video game music. Chinese society, history, and language has also become another area of his research more recently, and in Summer 2019 was a guest lecturer at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. Thomas is from Cyprus and was educated in Scotland, studying classical guitar and lute with Peter Argondizza. He completed his MA (first class, highest mark of the year) at the University of Glasgow in 2012, submitting a portfolio of compositions supervised by William Sweeney, also submitting a dissertation on the aesthetics and philosophy of Bach’s fugal works and their philosophical relevance to modernity (supervised by John Butt). After securing the MEXT research scholarship from the Japanese government in 2013, he explored the Japanese reception history of Bach’s music at Tokyo University of the Arts, while also studying Japanese language at Saitama University. In 2015 he entered the master’s course in musicology at Tokyo University of the Arts, achieving the Acanthus Music Prize in 2017 for his thesis on the reception of Bach’s music in 19th century Japan (written in Japanese) supervised by Kinya Osumi. He worked as a research assistant for the anthropology department of the University of Oxford between 2017-2018 and completed an MSc there in social anthropology under the supervision of Inge Daniels and Roger Goodman, with a thesis exploring anthropological approaches to Western art music in contemporary Japanese music practices. His work includes several published translations, numerous conference presentations and lectures across Europe and East Asia (in both Japanese and English), articles, and book chapters focusing on the music, history, and religion of Japan, and is also currently an administrative assistant for Bach Network.


As translator:
• Tadashi Isoyama, ‘Secular Cantatas’, in Yo Tomita (ed.), The Cambridge Bach Encyclopedia, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge (submitted in 2014, publication forthcoming).
• Hidemi Suzuki, Commentary on Johann Sebastian Bach's 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites (translation currently underway, book originally published as Mubansō chero kumikyoku kaisetsu by Tokyo Shoseki in 2009).
• Ryuichi Higuchi, ‘Towards the Peak of Bach’s Creativity: BWV 157, 117, 192, 97’, CD Booklet, Molto Fine: Tokyo, 2020
• Ryuichi Higuchi, ‘A History of Three Bach Cantatas’, in Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit, Molto Fine: Tokyo, 2019, CD Booklet, pp. 8-12.
• Tanaka Shōhei ‘Incentive for the Idea of Just Intonation’ Tanaka Shōhei Translation Workshop Collection, (submitted for publication, based on a workshop in Wadham College, University of Oxford, 13-15 March 2018)
• Tokyo University of the Arts Archive Centre, Messages from the Students who Died in Military Service: The Wartime Tokyo Academy of Music and Tokyo School of Art, 2018,
• Ryuichi Higuchi, My Beethoven Pilgrimage and the Missa solemnis, Motto Fine: Tokyo, 2018, CD Booklet, pp. 17-19.
• Tokyo University of the Arts Archive Centre, Educational Affairs Annual Report, for the years 1905 (Meiji 38) to 1915 (Taishō 4), 2016,
• Tokyo University of the Arts Archive Centre, Rhapsody of Youth (Wakakihi no Kyoushikyoku) by Yamada Kōsaku, the Handwritten Manuscript, 2017,
• Tokyo University of the Arts Archive Centre, Educational Affairs Annual Report, for the years 1887 (Meiji 20) to 1904 (Meiji 37), 2016,
• Ryuichi Higuchi, My Bach Pilgrimage and the “St. Matthew Passion”, N&F Co., Ltd: Tokyo, 2016, CD Booklet, pp. 54–57.
• Tokyo University of the Arts Archive Centre, Yoshimoto Kōzō’s Photographs of the Russo–Japanese War, 2016,
• Tokyo University of the Arts Archive Centre, “Songs” Composed by the Tokyo Academy of Music School, 2016,

As author:
• Thomas Cressy, ‘Bach Reception in Japan’, in Yo Tomita (ed.), The Cambridge Bach Encyclopedia, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge (publication forthcoming).
• 巴赫的音乐在十九世纪的东亚:首次有记载的巴赫音乐的演出 (‘Bach’s Music in Nineteenth-Century East Asia: the first documented performances of Bach’s
Music) Musicology Journal of the Central Conservatory of Music, 2020
• Thomas Cressy ‘Bach in the early Shōwa-period Japan (1926–1945): Historiography and reception’, In Intercultural Music Studies edited by Reinhard Strohm, VWB-Verlag für Wissenschaft und Bildung, 2020
• Thomas Cressy, ‘Bach in the Imaginary Museum and Bach Re-imagined: contemporary perspectives on performing and re-creating Bach. University of Massachusetts Amherst, 12-14 April 2019’, Conference Review, Eighteenth-Century Music, Volume 17, Issue 1
March 2020, Cambridge University Press, pp. 140-143
• Thomas Cressy, ‘East Asia: Japan’, in Daniel Hoyer Jenny Reddish (ed.) Seshat History of the Axial Age, Beresta Books, 2019
• Thomas Cressy, ‘Electrified Voices’, Book Review, Current Musicology, Issue: No. 103, Fall 2018, Columbia University Press, 2019, pp.139-146
• Thomas Cressy, ‘Eighth Johann Sebastian Bach Dialogue Meeting’, National Early Music Association Newsletter, March 2018
• Thomas Cressy, ‘The Case of Bach and Japan: Some Concepts and Their Possible Significance’, Understanding Bach 11, Bach Network UK, 2016 (this essay was also discussed on Iowa Public Radio on 3 October 2016:
• Thomas Cressy, ‘The Tokyo Music School and the Beginnings of Bach in Japan’, The 11th International Symposium on the Comparative Study of Chinese and Japanese Music Essay Collection, China: Xinjiang Institute of the Arts, 2015, pp. 163–173.