Westfield Center
Spring Conference, 2011
Keyboard Culture in 18th-Century Berlin and the German Sense of History
March 10-13, 2011
Cornell University, Ithaca, NY


  • Jean Ferrard
  • Jacques van Oortmerssen
  • Annette Richards
  • Harald Vogel
  • David Yearsley
  • Andrew Willis (fortepiano)
  • Steven Zohn (baroque flute)
  • Kristen Dubenion-Smith (mezzo-soprano)


  • Laurenz Lütteken (Keynote): “Variety, Synthesis and Supremacy: Aspects of a Musical Topography in the Berlin of Frederick II”
  • Vanessa Agnew: “Reconstructing, Reenacting and Testing and A Sense of Music History”
  • Darrell Berg: “‘Rules to their Most Innocent Pleasures’: The State of Music in Mid 18th-Century Berlin”
  • Matthew Head: “Mozart's Gothic: Aesthetic Terror and Historical Consciousness in the Einzelwerke for Solo Keyboard”
  • Mathieu Langlois: “Character Pieces, French Keyboard Music and the Berlin Court”
  • Ulrich Leisinger: “Mozart meets Bach: A Viennese in Berlin in 1789”
  • Richard Kramer: “Hearing the Silence: On a Much Theorized Moment in a Sonata by Emanuel Bach”
  • Martin Küster: “‘Ideal’ Organ Accompaniment and Mid-Century Berlin Aesthetics”
  • David Schulenberg: “An Enigmatic Legacy: Organ Music and the Berlin Bach Traditions”
  • Kerala Snyder: “Seventeenth-Century Organ Music in Eighteenth-Century Berlin: Early Music in the time of Frederick the Great”
  • Ellen Exner: “Anna Amalia, J. S. Bach and the Prussian Historical Imagination”
  • Annette Richards: “Charlottenburg Schnitger 1706–1930–2011”
  • Panel featuring Catherine Oertel, Munetaka Yokota, David Yearsley and Richard Parsons

Conference Description

This conference inaugurates the 'fantasy reconstruction' at Cornell of the celebrated Charlottenburg Castle organ (Arp Schnitger, 1706), by Munetaka Yokota with researchers and craftsmen at the Gothenburg Organ Arts Center (GOArt) in Sweden, Ithaca-area cabinetmaker Christopher Lowe, and Parsons Pipe Organ Builders of Bristol, New York. The Charlottenburg organ, which combines features of both the North German 17th-century and the Central German 18th-century traditions in one case, made a lasting contribution to Berlin music culture in the 18th century and into the 20th. It continues to resonate in our time, musically and ideologically. When Charles Burney visited Berlin in 1770, he found a court musical culture frozen in time, even as Berlin's philosophers and theorists were grappling with and codifying the vital recent developments in aesthetic theory. A quarter century earlier, J. S. Bach's famous visit to the court of Frederick the Great at Potsdam in 1747 included the aged composer's encounter with the newest Silbermann pianos, and yielded the extraordinary contrapuntal, yet galant, achievement of the Musical Offering. Berlin's patronesses, Sara Levy at the end of the century, and Anna Amalia mid century, both actively commissioned new works, while amassing great music collections that monumentalized a musical past.

Papers and concerts over the three days of the conference will look broadly at keyboard music of all sorts and in various contexts. While the focus is on the organ, we will also hear, and hear about, music for fortepiano, harpsichord and clavichord.


The conference will open with the Keynote Lecture given by distinguished professor Laurenz Lütteken (University of Zurich) on Thursday, March 10th at 4:30pm. We will hear recitals on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, and on Friday and Saturday lunchtimes. The conference will end at lunchtime on Sunday, March 13th. (For those who plan a longer stay in Ithaca, on Tuesday March 8th, at 8:00pm, David Yearsley and Annette Richards will perform an organ recital; and on Sunday evening, March 13th, Harald Vogel will repeat his Saturday evening performance.)

Full Schedule

For more information on Cornell's organ, go here.

Email: info@westfield.org

Sponsored by the Institute for German Cultural Studies at Cornell, the Cornell Department of Music, the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies, the Cornell Council for the Arts, the University Lectures Committee, the Cornell Society for the Humanities and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation