Annette Richards

Given Foundation Professor in the Humanities and University Organist


Annette Richards is Professor of Music and University Organist at Cornell, and the Executive Director of the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies. She is a performer and scholar with a specialty in 18th-century music and aesthetics, and interdisciplinary research into music, literature and visual culture. She is founding editor of Keyboard Perspectives, a yearbook dedicated to historical performance and keyboard culture, but her scholarly work extends far beyond the organ and its music. She is particularly interested in the music and music aesthetics of mid- to late-18th century Germany, and especially C. P. E. Bach. 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 across German-speaking Europe and England.

She is editor of C. P. E Bach Studies (Cambridge, 2006) and rediscovered and reconstructed that composer’s extraordinary collection of musical portraits, published by the Packard Humanities Institute in 2012.  With David Yearsley she has edited the complete organ works of C. P. E. Bach for the C. P. E. Bach: Complete Works edition. Recent topics she has written on include portraiture and the invention of music history, Handel and charity, graveyard poetry and musical approaches to death in the later 18th century, and the glass harmonica and virgin warriors around 1800.

Prize-winner in international organ competitions at Dublin and Bruges, Annette Richards gives concerts frequently in North America and Europe. Among her CDs are the Complete Works of Melchior Schildt (on the Loft label) played on the historic organ at Roskilde Cathedral, Denmark; and her recording of music from the library of Princess Anna Amalia of Prussia, recorded on the new Schnitger-style organ at Cornell.

Educated at Oxford University, (BA, MA) Stanford University (PhD) and the Sweelinck Conservatorium Amsterdam (Performer’s Diploma, Uitvoerend Musicus), where she was a student of Jacques van Oortmerssen, her honors include fellowships at the Stanford Humanities Center, the Getty Center in Santa Monica and from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. In 2011 she celebrated the completion of an early 18th-century-style organ at Cornell, the culmination of an ambitious 10-year research and construction project she led in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Gothenburg, and in upstate New York.

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; the organ, culture and technology; as well as organ performance. 


Research Focus

  • Music aesthetics and criticism
  • Music and visual culture
  • Performance practice and history; performance studies
  • Organ performance and history
  • Musical instruments and the history of technology
  • Touch, sensation and the musical body


Selected Publications:

  • “Music for a Princess.” German 17th- and 18th-century music from the library of Princess Anna Amalia of Prussia, on the Cornell Baroque Organ. (Recorded March 2013; released August 2014, Loft Recordings).
  • “Melchior Schildt and the North German Organ Art,” on the historic Raphaelis Organ at Roskilde Cathedral, Denmark. (2008, Loft Recordings).


  • Keyboard Perspectives (2006-13; 2016; 2017)
  • C. P. E. Bach Studies Cambridge University Press (2006)
  • The Free Fantasia and the Musical Picturesque. Cambridge University Press (2001)
  • Acting on the Past: Historical Performance across the Disciplines. Editor, with Mark Franko. Wesleyan University Press (2000)

Articles and Book Chapters:

  •  “Ghost Music, or the Otherworldy Voice of the Glass Harmonica.” Tilman Skowroneck, ed., Keyboard Perspectives VIII (2016), 1-42
  • „Vereint durch den erhabenen Chor: Das ästhetisch-politische Vermächtnis von Händels Halleluja im Zeitalter der Personalunion.“ In Mehr Händel ed. Wolfgang Sandberger, [Göttinger Händel Beiträge XVI], (2015).
  • “The Musical Poetry of the Graveyard.” Edinburgh Companion to Literature and Music. (forthcoming).
  • “Gothic Musical Scenes and the Image of Performance.” Late 18th-Century Music and Visual Culture, ed., Cliff Eisen and Alan Davison (Turnhout: Brepols, 2017).
  • “Listening for Likeness, or C. P. E. Bach and the Art of Speculation,” Early Music Vol. XLII no. 3 (2014), 347-362.
  •  “The Charitable Handel.” In The Power of Musick, ed. Anorthe Kremers and Wolfgang Sandberger [Göttinger Händel Beiträge XV], (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2014), 87-108.
  • “C. P. E Bach’s Freundschaftstempel  and the Portrait of Modern Life.” Die Tonkunst, (8/1, January 2014), 39-49.
  • “C. P. E. Bach, Portraits and the Physiognomy of Music History.” Journal of the American Musicological Society (Volume 66 no. 2, Summer, 2013), 337-396.
  • “Charlottenburg Schnitger: 1706—1931—2011.” In Keyboard Perspectives IV, 2013
  •  “Spielräume der Musik zwischen Konzertsaal und Open Air: Beethoven, Joe Wrights The Soloist und die Idee von urbaner Freiheit” (co-authored with David Yearsley) in Kunst —Garten — Kultur (Berlin, 2010), ed. Stefanie Hennecke and Gert Gröning (Berlin: Reimer, 2010)
  • "An Enduring Monument: C. P. E. Bach and the Musical Sublime." In C. P. E. Bach Studies.
  • "Haydn's London Trios and the Rhetoric of the Grotesque." In Engaging Rhetoric, ed. Tom Beghin, Sander Goldberg and Elisabeth Le Guin. Chicago University Press.
  • "Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and the Intimate Poetics of Public Music." In Patriotism, Cosmopolitanism, and National Culture: Public Culture in Hamburg 1700-1933, Peter U. Hohendahl, ed. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2003.
  • "C. P. E. Bach and the Music of Solitude." In Einsamkeit, ed. Aleida Assmann and Jan Assmann. Munich: Wilhelm Fink, 1999.
  • "C. P. E. Bach's Free Fantasy and the Performance of the Imagination." In Acting on the Past.

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