Robert D. Levin
- This article is about the Robert D. Levin, the American pianist and composer. For the Norwegian pianist, see Robert Levin (Norwegian pianist).
Levin attended the Brooklyn Friends School, and Andrew Jackson High School, but spent his junior year studying music with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. He attended Harvard, where he earned his A.B. magna cum laude in 1968, writing a thesis titled The Unfinished Works of W. A. Mozart.
- Piano, with Jan Gorbaty, Louis Martin, Alice Gaultier-Léon, Jean Casadesus, Clifford Curzon, and Robert Casadesus
- Organ, with Nadia Boulanger
- Solfège, with Seymour Bernstein, Louis Martin, and Annette Dieudonné
- Counterpoint, with Suzanne Bloch and Nadia Boulanger
- Composition, with Stefan Wolpe
- Conducting, with Eleazar de Carvalho
Upon graduation from Harvard, Levin was named head of the theory department at Curtis Institute of Music, then was associate professor of music and coordinator of theory at SUNY Purchase, where he was made full professor in 1975. From 1986 to 1993, he served as professor of piano at Hochschule für Musik Freiburg in Germany. In 1993, he became professor of music at his alma mater Harvard University, a position he continues to hold. In 1994 he was made Dwight P. Robinson, Jr. Professor of the Humanities at Harvard, and he was head tutor from 1998 to 2003 and in 2004. In 2012, he was Humanitas Visiting Professor in Chamber Music at Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities, University of Cambridge where he gave two lectures on Improvising and Composing Mozart and a concert with Academy of Ancient Music.
Levin's academic career has combined teaching and tutoring performance—especially keyboard instruments, but also conducting—and music theory, with an emphasis on classical music history.
Contributions to composition
His completions of several unfinished Mozart works, including the Requiem in D minor and Great Mass in C minor, are considered his most important achievements. In the Mozart Requiem, he reconstructed an Amen fugue from Mozart's own sketches. John Eliot Gardiner commissioned him to write missing orchestral parts to five movements of cantatas by Johann Sebastian Bach, such as Ach! ich sehe, itzt, da ich zur Hochzeit gehe, BWV 162, resulting in other important, though less comprehensive, works. As a performer, he is best known for his work as a piano soloist for Classical-era concerti, and particularly for his "expert" handling of the works of Mozart. In performance, he is known for attempting to re-create performance practice from the time of the composer, such as improvising cadenzas.
Levin has also composed several works, including the following:
- 2 clarinet sonatas (1961; 1967–68)
- 2 Short Piano Pieces (1966–67)
- Bassoon Sonata (1965–66)
- Woodwind Quintet (1965)
- Piano Quartet (1964–65)
- Piano Sonata (1962)
- Robert D. Levin at Harvard University Department of Music
- Rayfield Allied profile
- Videos of his two lectures on Improvising and Composing Mozart at the University of Cambridge, October 2012
- SEED article about improvisation, heavily featuring Levin