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John Hsu is the Old Dominion Foundation Professor of Music, emeritus, at Cornell University, where he taught for 50 years, from 1955 until his retirement in 2005.
Hsu is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where he received the Bachelor of Music in 1953, Master of Music in 1955, Honorary Doctor of Music in 1971, and the Outstanding Alumni Award in 2003.
Through his Cornell years he taught lessons in cello and viola da gamba, and courses in music theory, music history, and historical performance practice. He conducted the Cornell Collegium Musicum, the Sage Chapel Choir, the Cornell Chamber Orchestra, and the Cornell Symphony Orchestra. He co-founded the Amadé Trio, Cornell's resident performance practise chamber ensemble, along with violinist Sonya Monosoff and fortepianist Malcolm Bilson. He was chairman of the Department of Music, 1966–71. He founded the Cornell Summer Viol Program in 1970, which from 1972 to 1996 was the longest continuing summer music program devoted to the study of the French solo viola da gamba performing tradition. His introduction of the viola da gamba as a solo recital instrument marked the first stage in the development of historical performance practice at Cornell, which later attracted expert faculty in the field, and led to the establishment of the Center for Eighteenth Century Instrumental Music and graduate degree in the performance of 18th-century musical instruments.
Hsu is the artistic director emeritus of the Aston Magna Foundation for Music and the Humanities, founder and conductor of the Apollo Ensemble (a period-instrument chamber orchestra) founder of the Haydn Baryton Trio, and a world-renowned player of the viola da gamba and baryton. As conductor and instrumentalist he recorded award-winning CDs and toured throughout this country and Europe. He was artistic director and conductor of the Atlanta Baroque Orchestra, Atlanta, Georgia, from 2006 to 2009.
Hsu is the editor of the first modern edition of the complete instrumental works of Marin Marais (1656–1728) and author of A Handbook of French Baroque Viol Technique, both published by Broude Brothers Limited. In 2000, the government of France bestowed on him the honor of Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in recognition of his lifelong commitment to French Baroque music as a scholar, performer and teacher.