January 2021 Student Showcase

This video will premiere on Friday, January 22 at 7:30 PM EST.

View the online program

Duke Music students perform selected movements from the following works:

Nathaniel Maxwell: Bach: French Suite in E-flat Major
Jeremy Sexton & Alina Xiao: Beethoven: “La Folia” project
Aram Lindroth: Haydn: Piano Sonata in A-flat Major, Hob.XVI:43
Karl Goepfart: Wind Quartet Op. 93
Unprecedented Quartet: Smetana: Quartet “From My Life”
Duke University Saxophone Quartet: Joe Henderson: “Recordame”

Robert Parkins performs “Salome’s Dance” and other works recorded on Duke Chapel’s Aeolian organ


This video premiered on Friday, January 8, 2021.

View the program for this concert.

Salome’s Dance, recorded by Robert Parkins on the renovated Aeolian organ (1932) in Duke Chapel, was released by Loft Recordings in the spring of 2019. Dr. Parkins has selected seven of the 18 tracks, introduced by him with brief notes on each piece. Works by African American composers Florence Price and Adolphus Hailstork are followed by music of former Duke composer Robert Ward and current Wake Forest composer Dan Locklair. The title track, “Dance of the Seven Veils” from Richard Strauss’s opera Salome, was transcribed for organ by Dr. Parkins (“. . . a complete success, as the organ proves an ideal means for realizing the colorful exoticism of the orchestral original.”– Fanfare)

Robert Parkins is the University Organist and Professor of the Practice of Music at Duke.

Beethoven’s 250th anniversary: R. Larry Todd plays the Piano Sonata in A Major, Op. 2 No. 2

This video premiered on Friday, December 18.

Video is introduced with prefatory notes by Professor R. Larry Todd

Beethoven: Piano Sonata in A Major, Op. 2 No. 2

I. Allegro vivace (begins at 17:55)
II: Largo appassionato (begins at 25:05)
III: Scherzo: Allegretto (begins at 31:47)
IV: Rondo: Grazioso (begins at 35:31)

To help celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), R. Larry Todd offers a new recording and discussion of the Piano Sonata in A major, Op. 2 No. 2 (1796). A product of the composer’s early Viennese years, the sonata reveals Beethoven’s efforts to find his own creative voice even as he embraces the high classicism of Haydn and Mozart. The result is an innovative, four-movement sonata dedicated to Beethoven’s teacher, Haydn, but also exploring what would become an idiosyncratic marker of Beethoven’s own style-the determined use of musical conflicts, accomplished in this case through unexpected, at times quirky changes in dynamics, articulation (legato vs. staccato), and register.

R. Larry Todd is Arts & Sciences Professor of Music, and co-author, with Marc Moskovitz, of Beethoven’s Cello: Five Sonatas and Their World (Boydell & Brewer, 2017), 2018 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title Award.

Fall 2020 Undergraduate Showcase


This video premiered on Friday, December 11

View the program for this concert

Highlights from undergraduate performances in the Fall 2020 semester

Thorin Chappel (harp), Fauré: Une Chatelaine en sa Tour
Debosir Ghosh (piano), Rachmaninoff: Prelude in G sharp Minor, Op. 32 no. 12
Claire Li (piano), Beethoven: Piano Sonata in C Major, Op. 53 – Allegro con brio
Jacques Quartet, Dvořák: String Quartet Op. 106 in G Major – Mvt. 1
Bill Guo (alto sax), Singelée: Duo Concertant, Op. 55, Mvt. I. Risoluto
Caleb Woo (alto sax), Decruck: Sonate – Mvt. I. Très modéré, expressif
Duke University Saxophone Quartet, Piazzolla: Libertango, arr. Thomas Schön

Duke Chorale Christmas Concert

The Chorale Christmas Concert program is online. Follow along with texts for all the pieces performed.

The Duke Chorale, directed by Rodney Wynkoop, presents its annual Christmas Concert featuring seasonal selections by the Duke Chorale as well as traditional carols to sing along to at home. This family holiday event is a long-standing tradition for many area residents and a valuable food drive for Urban Ministries of Durham.

The concert will be free to view online, but please consider donating a non-perishable food item between now and December 1 to Urban Ministries, 410 Liberty St. in Durham. Please drop off donations between 10 am -5 pm, Monday-Friday. Not local? Consider making a financial donation on their website, http://umdurham.org. Don’t forget to mention the Duke Chorale when you donate!

See you December 1 at 7 PM EST!

Hsiao-mei Ku (violin), Caroline Stinson (cello), Ieva Jokubavicuite (piano) and Daniel Seyfried, pianist

Pianist Daniel Seyfried shares three recent recordings: Rachmaninoff’s Etude-Tableau in A Minor Op. 39 No. 6 “little red riding hood,” Ravel’s “Alborada del gracioso,” and Debussy’s “L’isle joyeuse.”

Then, Duke Music faculty Hsiao-mei Ku (violin), Caroline Stinson (cello), and Ieva Jokubavicuite (piano) perform the first movement (Allegro moderato) from Clara Schumann’s Piano Trio in G Minor, Op. 17 with an introduction by R. Larry Todd. View the complete, expanded introduction by Professor Todd.

The Piano Trio was recorded in Baldwin Auditorium in September.

Duke Opera Theater: A Night of Italian Opera

Virtual performance of Italian opera arias, opera choruses, and symphonic overtures featuring Duke Opera Theater, directed by David Heid, with special guests the Duke Symphony Orchestra (Harry Davidson, music director) and Duke Chorale (Rodney Wynkoop, director).

To make the event more fun, take part in a special take-and-bake meal option prepared for Duke Opera Theater fans by Durham’s award winning Alley 26 restaurant. Must pre-order! Contact David Heid (dheid@duke.edu) for menu and ordering details.

Caroline Stinson (cello), Nathaniel Maxwell (piano), and Jacob Liang (voice)


In this video highlighting solo works by Duke students and faculty, Jacob Liang, a member of Duke Opera Theater who graduated in May 2020, shares an aria sung by Friar Laurence in Gounod’s Romeo and Juliette; piano student and composer Nathaniel Maxwell plays an original work; and Ciompi cellist Caroline Stinson performs a selection of movements from JS Bach’s Suite in G Major.


Family Weekend Concert featuring the Duke Chorale, Symphony Orchestra, and Wind Symphony


We wish we could welcome families into Baldwin Auditorium for our annual Family Weekend concert featuring three of our largest student ensembles– the Duke Chorale (Rodney Wynkoop, director), Symphony Orchestra (Harry Davidson, music director), and Wind Symphony (Verena Mosenbichler-Bryant, director)– but we are happy to bring you a virtual concert that highlights our students’ achievements.

View the program to see texts for the Chorale selections, a note from Music’s Chair Jonathan Bagg, program notes, and information about the three ensembles and directors:

Ciompi Quartet: Marie Jaëll’s String Quartet in G Minor (1875)


Marie Jaëll, String Quartet in G Minor (1875)
I. Allegro
II. Andante
III. Scherzo
IV. Finale

Ciompi Quartet: Eric Pritchard and Hsiao-mei Ku, violins; Jonathan Bagg, viola; Caroline Stinson, cello. Recorded September 2-3, 2020 in Baldwin Auditorium, Duke University, by Rick Nelson.

Rediscovering Marie Jaëll
by R. Larry Todd, Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of Music in Trinity College of Arts and Sciences

Among the voices of nineteenth-century musicians largely silenced by undeserved neglect and the withering passage of time is that of Marie (Trautmann) Jaëll (1846-1925), an Alsatian piano prodigy, composer, and pedagogue. In addition, she wrote several studies about the physiology of playing the piano, all in an attempt to improve the efficiency of the hand, and to promote in a scientific way the pianist’s awareness of the physical aspects of performance. At the age of sixteen she won the coveted first prize in piano at the Paris Conservatoire; a few years later, in 1867, she married the pianist Alfred Jaëll, with whom she toured extensively in Europe and Russia. She was known for her performances of the music of Robert Schumann and Liszt, but perhaps the zenith of her concertizing career came in 1893, when she dispatched at the Salle Pleyel in Paris the herculean feat of performing the thirty-two piano sonatas by Beethoven, the very first French pianist to do so.

Jaëll was an intimate of Saint-Saëns in Paris and Liszt in Weimar. Saint-Saëns inscribed to her his juvenescent Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 17 (1858), while the senescent Liszt dedicated to her one of his adventuresome late works, the Third Mephisto Waltz (1883). Her engaging performances led Saint-Saëns to declare that other than Liszt, only Jaëll could convincingly play his music. Jaëll’s students included the polymath Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965), who later distinguished himself as a theologian, humanitarian, doctor, organist, and author of a two-volume study of J. S. Bach.

Today Jaëll’s music is still relatively unknown, though there are clear signs of a revival, including of her impressive String Quartet in G minor of 1875, restored and performed here by the Ciompi Quartet in a recording made this past summer in Baldwin Auditorium. A thorough assessment of Jaëll’s full catalogue is still wanting, but suffice it to say that she explored a wide variety of genres, from solo and four-hand piano music (much of it performed with her husband), and songs (for some of which she created her own texts), to chamber works, concerti (two for piano, and one for cello), the symphonic poem, and opera. Liszt and Saint-Saëns appear to have been the dominant influences on her style, but a critical appraisal must await further publication and performances of her music.

The String Quartet in G minor dates from 1875, just a few years after the crushing defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian War and the horrors of the Paris Commune. Conceivably, the quartet may reflect what the musicologist Joël-Marie Fauquet has termed the “crisis of conscience into which losing the Franco-Prussian War had thrown the French nation.” To some degree this entailed for French composers a renewal of chamber-music genres firmly associated with the Austro-German tradition. In this regard it is significant that Jaëll’s sole quartet predates by some fourteen years the much more celebrated String Quartet in D major of César Franck, which, with its use of cyclic techniques between the various movements, cast a heavy influence on Debussy’s sole—and, it should be added, distinctly un-Germanic quartet of 1892—as well as the chamber music of Fauré, Ravel, and others. Like Franck’s quartet, Jaëll’s betrays the long shadow of Beethoven’s sixteen quartets, evident in particular in the outer movements. In four movements, the quartet begins with an energetic motive of ten notes, interrupted by a brief (Beethovenian) silence, and then repeated and extended. Out of this motive Jaëll spins the first movement, in the middle of which she indulges in a fugato-like treatment of the material. Beethovenian too is the playful third-movement scherzo, where counterpoint is again invoked, though here in a mock display of erudition. The lyrical Andante slow movement, on the other hand, features a singing melody in the first violin accompanied by the other instruments, reminiscent perhaps of the French musical romance, popular first in opera and then transferred to instrumental combinations.

Well crafted, Jaëll’s quartet displays a convincing engagement with the string quartet genre, a sound knowledge of its past history, and imaginative understanding of its potential for French music in the closing decades of the nineteenth century. It remains one of the few string quartets from the time by women composers, and now joins Fanny Hensel’s String Quartet in E-flat major of 1834, lost to history until 1988, when its first edition was issued (an early recording by the Ciompi Quartet followed in 1997).