Reflections of an American Harpsichordist

March 2017
13 black and white illustrations
226 pages
9x6 in
Eastman Studies in Music
Library eBook
University of Rochester Press
BISAC MUS023030, MUS050000, BIO004000

Reflections of an American Harpsichordist

Unpublished Memoirs, Essays, and Lectures of Ralph Kirkpatrick

Edited by Meredith Kirkpatrick

eBook for Handhelds
Presents previously unpublished memoirs (1933-77), lectures, and essays by the eminent harpsichordist and scholar Ralph Kirkpatrick.
This collection of unpublished writings by the eminent harpsichordist and scholar Ralph Kirkpatrick contains his memoirs for the period 1933-77 as well as essays on a variety of topics, including his preparation for the first performance of Elliott Carter's Double Concerto, thoughts on editing Bach's Goldberg Variations, and reflections on recording, chamber music, performance, and harpsichords and their transport. The volume also contains five lectures from a Yale University lecture series presented between 1969 and 1971, a bibliography of publications by and about Kirkpatrick, a discography of his recordings, and a foreword by former Kirkpatrick student and renowned organist William Porter.

Meredith Kirkpatrick, the niece of Ralph Kirkpatrick, is a librarian and bibliographer at Boston University and the editor of Ralph Kirkpatrick: Letters of the American Harpsichordist and Scholar (University of Rochester Press, 2014).

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Table of Contents

Memoirs, 1933-77
On Performing
On Recording
On Chamber Music
On Harpsichords and Their Transport
Elliott Carter's Double Concerto (ca. 1973)
On Editing Bach's Goldberg Variations: For Arthur Mendel (March 31, 1973)
RK and Music at JE (1983)
The Equipment and Education of a Musician (1971)
Bach and Mozart for Violin and Harpsichord (ca. 1944)
The Early Piano (Broadcast on BBC Radio 3, Music Weekly, September 23, 1973)
Bach and Keyboard Instruments
In Search of Scarlatti's Harpsichord
Style in Performance
The Performer's Pilgrimage to the Sources
Private Virtue and Public Vice in the Performance of "Early Music"
Appendix A: Personal Names in the Text
Appendix B: Publications by and about Ralph Kirkpatrick
Appendix C: Ralph Kirkpatrick Discography


A major collection of unpublished documents...[that] offers us a deep dive into the professional life of this person of vast culture and multiple interests...This book turns out to be valuable not only as a biographical source but also, through its narrative details, as a vivid testimony to the fervent activity [that transformed] the musical world when early music first began to be brought back to life. The writing style is elegant and captivating, often sprinkled with touches of humor. The pages...devoted to Scarlatti are particularly rich. REVUE DE MUSICOLOGIE

Meredith Kirkpatrick shares a new and rich collection of writings by her uncle Ralph Kirkpatrick (1911-1984) of the principal shapers of the twentieth-century movement to return historical instruments to the practical uses of musical life...These pages provide a summary of his experiences as man and artist and repeatedly touch upon the themes that formed the "red thread" [through his life]. Questions regarding early music and historical-keyboard playing are treated in a way that incorporates Kirkpatrick's personal experiences as performer and researcher, experiences that made his reflections and his scholarly output so vital. AD PARNASSUM

[P]resents another pathway to understanding the stellar contributions of the most influential American harpsichordist of the mid-20th century after Wanda Landowska. Brava, Meredith Kirkpatrick, for your painstaking archival researching and editing. Here is a book to treasure, and to share with fellow lovers of the harpsichord and its history." DIAPASON

This special book is well made, beautiful to hold and captures this later period in the lifetime and place in history of this very eminent American musician and scholar. . . . Kirkpatrick's own Memoirs in this book have an elegant and engaging style of writing, displaying his erudite intelligence and charisma. . . . [His] Reflections . . . display the author's immense contribution and role in shaping music history. FONTES ARTIS MUSICAE

Brilliant observations that apply to all fields of music. The fascinating writing itself is so elegant and polished. . . that the reader constantly wants to turn the pages. . . . Should be of interest to all lovers of keyboard instruments and the music written for them. AMERICAN ORGANIST

Kirkpatrick's playing, at its best, is magnificent ... [This] entertaining and wittily written book ... [is] a beautiful complement to [Ralph Kirkpatrick: Letters of the American Harpsichordist and Scholar], which came out a few years ago. OPUSKLASSIEK

Offers a fascinating view into the personality and worldview of Ralph Kirkpatrick. . . . The writing reveals scrupulous musical standards and a crunchy personality. AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE

Meredith Kirkpatrick has selected wisely and edited meticulously. We are offered many insights into the life of a concert harpsichordist at a time when such individuals were rare indeed. [Kirkpatrick's] prose style is always elegant, but he expresses himself directly and vigorously. EARLY MUSIC PERFORMER

Opens a window onto much of 20th-century cultural history. . . . Essential reading for anyone interested in the harpsichord, scholarship, and musical style. EARLY MUSIC AMERICA

[From] a musician who was widely admired as one of the finest harpsichordists of his day [comes] this collection of memoirs, essays and lectures, all previously unpublished and edited sensitively by Kirkpatrick's niece...[The memoirs are] pleasingly anecdotal. GRAMOPHONE

[A welcome new book of writings by] the trailblazing American harpsichordist...edited with exemplary thoroughness by his niece Meredith Kirkpatrick. It's kick-started by an agreeably gossipy memoir. Humour and waspish observations gild memoir and polemic alike. Many of the issues pondered with characteristic clarity are no less relevant fifty years on...(Four stars, and Editor's Choice) BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE

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