Robert Levin (musicologist)
Born in Brooklyn, Levin attended the Brooklyn Friends School and Andrew Jackson High School, and spent his junior year studying music with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. He attended Harvard, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude in 1968 with a thesis entitled 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
After graduating from Harvard, Levin was named head of the theory department at the Curtis Institute of Music. He was subsequently appointed associate professor of music and coordinator of theory instruction at the SUNY Purchase, and full professor in 1975. From 1986 to 1993, he served as professor of piano at the Hochschule für Musik Freiburg in Germany. In 1993 he became professor of music at his alma mater, Harvard University, where he remains Professor Emeritus. In 1994 he was made Dwight P. Robinson Jr Professor of the Humanities at Harvard, and was a head tutor from 1998 to 2004. In 2012, as Humanitas Visiting Professor of chamber music at Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), University of Cambridge, he gave two lectures, Improvising Mozart and Composing Mozart and a concert with Academy of Ancient Music.
Levin's academic career has included teaching and tutoring performance practice (especially involving keyboard instruments and conducting, with an emphasis on the Classical period) in addition to music history and theory. He currently holds the position of Hogwood Fellow with the Academy of Ancient Music.
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. As a performer, he is best known as soloist in Classical-era piano concertos in general, and those of Mozart and Beethoven in particular, in which he robustly re-creates performance practice of the composers' time such as by improvising cadenzas and shorter embellishments in the composers' style.
Levin has composed several works, including the following:
- Two clarinet sonatas (1961; 1967–68)
- Two Short Piano Pieces (1966–67)
- Bassoon Sonata (1965–66)
- Woodwind Quintet (1965)
- Piano Quartet (1964–65)
- Piano Sonata (1962)
Completions and reconstructions of fragments by Mozart
- Requiem in D minor K. 626 (also historically completed by Franz Xaver Süssmayr)
- Mass in C minor ("The Great") K. 427
- Larghetto and Allegro in E-flat major for two pianos K. deest (also historically completed by Maximilian Stadler and Paul Badura-Skoda)
- Rondo in A major for basset clarinet and string quartet, K. 581a
- Allegro in B-flat major for basset clarinet and string quartet, K. 516c
- Allegro in B-flat major for keyboard, K. 400 (also historically completed by Maximilian Stadler)
- Allegro in G minor for keyboard, K. 312 (also historically completed by an unknown composer)
- Suite in C major for keyboard, K. 399: Sarabande
- Concerto for Violin and Piano K. Anh. 56/315f
- Horn Concerto in D major, K. 412 (also historically completed by Franz Xaver Süssmayr)
- Rondo for horn and orchestra in E-flat major K. 371
- Sinfonia Concertante for oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon K. 297b (reconstruction of possible original version for flute, oboe, horn, and bassoon)
- Ludwig van Beethoven. Cello Sonatas. Robert Levin with Steven Isserlis. Hyperion Records Limited
- Ludwig van Beethoven. Piano Concertos. Robert Levin with Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique, John Eliot Gardiner. Archiv Produktion
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Piano Concertos K271 & K414. Robert Levin with The Academy of Ancient Music, Christopher Hogwood. Played on a Walter fortepiano replica by Paul McNulty. Éditions de l'Oiseau-Lyre
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Piano Concertos K453 & K466. Robert Levin with The Academy of Ancient Music, Christopher Hogwood. Éditions de l'Oiseau-Lyre
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Piano Concertos K456 & K459. Robert Levin with The Academy of Ancient Music, Christopher Hogwood. Éditions de l'Oiseau-Lyre
- Franz Joseph Haydn. The Last 4 Piano Trios: H 15 no 27-30. Robert Levin with Vera Beths and Anner Bylsma. SC Vivarte Series 53120
- Henri Dutilleux. D'ombre et de silence (Piano Sonata, Preludes, etc.). ECM New Series 2105
- Johann Sebastian Bach. Keyboard Works. Robert Levin, Trevor Pinnock, Robert Hill, Peter Watchorn, Edward Aldwell, Evgeni Koroliov. Played on an antique harpsichord and organ. Label: Hanssler Classic.
- Franz Schubert. Piano Sonatas. Robert Levin. Played on Johann Fritz 1825 fortepiano. Sony Classical.
- Profile, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society
- Improvising Mozart, 29 October 2012
- Composing Mozart, 30 October 2012
- Robert Levin and the AAM perform works by Mozart and Beethoven, 31 October 2012
- "Robert Levin erhält Bach-Medaille". Jüdische Allgemeine (Press release) (in German). Berlin. epd. 21 March 2018. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
- "Musician with a Mission" by Janet Tassel, Harvard Magazine May–June 1995, pp. 32–39
- Profile, Rayfield Allied
- The Improvisational Brain, Seed article about improvisation, heavily featuring Levin
- Derek Bailey's documentary On The Edge – Improvisation in Music (1991), on YouTube, on YouTube, Levin and Christopher Hogwood