Joshua Rifkin’s life in music has spanned ragtime masters and Renaissance motets, Bach cantatas and Baroque Beatles. He has conducted and appeared as soloist with leading orchestras and early-music ensembles throughout the globe in music ranging from Monteverdi through Haydn to Webern and recent contemporaries. The Bach Ensemble, which he founded in 1978, won the Gramophone Award for its recording of the Mass in B Minor and has performed this and many other works of Bach at festivals in the United States, Europe, and beyond. Notable performances of the past few years have included Monteverdi’s Vespers and other sacred music of 1610 with Concerto Palatino, Bach’s motets with Vox luminis and the Bach Ensemble, Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin with the tenor Frank Kelley, and Bach’s St. Matthew and St. John Passions with the Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra. The University of Dortmund, Germany, and the Academy of Music in Kraków, Poland, have awarded Joshua Rifkin honorary degrees for his contributions to Bach interpretation; in 2013 the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen, Germany, honored him with its highest award, the Lichtenberg-Medallion; and in 2020 he received annual the Prize of European Church Music from the German city of Schwäbisch-Gmünd.
Joshua Rifkin’s iconic Nonesuch recording Piano Rags by Scott Joplin and its two successor volumes spearheaded the revival of this essential American composer. He has performed Joplin’s music throughout the United States, including at the White House; from the north of Scotland to the south of England, including before 40,000 people at the BBC’s London Proms in the Park; and in Europe, Israel, Japan, and Australia. In 2019 the Recording Academy voted to induct Piano Rags by Scott Joplin into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
Presented in conjuction with Joshua Rifkin’s Campus on the Lake lecture, “Genuine Negro Ragtime: Scott Joplin’s African-American Identity,” on April 6 at 6 p.m