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2020-09-07: Weismann

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Joshua Rifkin

Joshua Rifkin was born on 22 April 1944 in New York (USA). He studied composition at Juilliard School under Vincent Persichetti and completed his studies under Gustave Reese at New York University and under Arthur Mendel, Lewis Lockwood, Milton Babbitt and Ernst Oster at Princeton University. Joshua Rifkin also worked together with Karlheinz Stockhausen at Darmstadt in 1961 and 1965.


Joshua Rifkin's first success were his recordings of ragtime compositions by Scott Joplin in 1970. The recordings became million-sellers, were nominated for two Grammy Awards and led to a revival of Scott Joplin and the ragtime genre in total.


But Joshua Rifkin's main field of research is Renaissance and Baroque music. He is widely known for his research, findings and positions on the music by Johann Sebastian Bach. That include the controversial position that Bach's vocal music was performed only with one singer per voice part. Other findings are the correct premiere date of the St. Matthew Passion, specific findings on the orchestral suites by Bach or the reasonable statement that the cantata BWV50 was not composed by Bach himself. Joshua Rifkin also published a scholarly critical edition of Bach's Mass in B minor.

Joshua Rifkin also worked on other composers and topics like the works by Josquin des Prez, the motet around 1500 or the music by Heinrich Schütz.


Joshua Rifkin lectured at the Brandeis University, Harvard, Yale and is actually professor at the Boston University. Beside his research and teaching activities he also works as a conductor and keyboard soloist and has performed with such notable ensembles like the English Chamber Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, St. Louis Symphony or Scottish Chamber Orchestra.


As a composer Joshua Rifkin is best known for his arrangements of Beatles songs in the style of 18th century music, known as "The Baroque Beatles Book". His very own compositions are not well known and mostly unpublished.

Winter piece

 

In my possession are two scores of original compositions by Joshua Rifkin, his "Winter piece for piano" and his "Winter piece for violin".

 

 

Winter piece for violin

 

My archive contains the original typewritten score for the composition "Winter piece for violin". The score was typed on Eaton's Corresable Bond paper and is only one page long. "Winter piece" is dedicated to "Sherry, again".

The work was composed on 26 December 1961 on a commission by violinist Paul Zukofsky. The composition contains of a selection of 12 sections which are described only by duration, number of events, length of each individual event, mode of production, densities and registers. The number of performers is unlimited and can also include other string instruments. The 12 sections are arranged in the form of a circle. The performer can start at any section he likes, but then must perform a complete circle forwards or backwards.

According to Joshua Rifkin the premiere of the work took place in a student's concert at Juilliard school with Paul Zukofsky around the year 1962.

 

Winter piece for piano

 

I also own a copy of the typewritten score of the "Winter piece for piano" by Joshua Rifkin. This composition predates the violin version and was composed on 12 November 1961. It is dedicated to "Sherry".

This composition contains of 16 sections which are described only by duration, number of events, mode of production employed, densities and registers. The work can be performed by any number of pianos and pianists and may be played simultaneously with any other music the performer desires. The 16 sections are arranged in the form of a circle. The performer can start at any section he likes, but then must perform a complete circle forwards or backwards.

The "Winter piece for piano" was premiered at a student's concert at Juilliard School by Joshua Rifkin and other student pianists around 1962.

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