Joshua Rifkin

Biography

Born: April 22, 1944; NY  
Pianist, conductor, and musicologist Joshua Rifkin enjoys a status of high authority and expertise in four distinct genres -- Johann Sebastian Bach, the Beatles, sacred vocal music of the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries, and in piano ragtime of the early twentieth century. Rifkin's initial line of musical study was as a composer; he was a student of Vincent Persichetti at the Juilliard School, from which he earned a degree in 1964. He Read more also continued his education well after his career as a recording artist started, studying at New York University, the University of Göttingen, and at Princeton where he took a class under Milton Babbitt.

Rifkin first made an impact in 1965 when Elektra Records impresario Jac Holzman asked for help in realizing a crazy idea of his, an album of Beatles hits as restated in the musical style of Baroque composers. Witty and unique, the resulting Nonesuch album The Baroque Beatles Book swiftly became a best seller, featuring Rifkin's clever take on Beatles standards such as "Help!" and "Please Please Me," and it was widely imitated. In 1970, Rifkin began an extensive project of recording Scott Joplin's rags for Nonesuch that stretched into 1974 and resulted in three LP volumes. With the release of the hit movie The Sting featuring Joplin's music, theretofore mainly known to early jazz buffs, Rifkin's recordings of the piano originals were thrust into prominence and also became best sellers. So enormously popular were Rifkin's efforts on behalf of Joplin that for the rest of the 1970s his was a household name among classical music fans as well as a cross-section of popular music listeners. Rifkin ended the 1970s on a high note with Digital Ragtime, an album for EMI featuring the first digital recordings of ragtime piano music; it also proved very popular.

Despite the success Rifkin enjoyed as an interpreter of Joplin's piano rags, he did not lose sight of his strong interest and expertise in Baroque vocal music. In 1982, Rifkin recorded for his edition of Johann Sebastian Bach's B minor Mass for Nonesuch that proved a highly controversial sensation; it employs only one singer per part in the chorus rather than the sizeable choral forces that then proved the standard in modern performances of the work. Although Rifkin's proposal of this idea was contested in many quarters at the time, it has since been widely adapted among groups that perform Bach's music in period style. Rifkin has gone on to record several of Bach's cantatas, Haydn symphonies, and works of Antoine Busnois; in 2004 he published a scholarly monograph on the music of The Beatles. Read less
Browse 1-8 of 8 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Imaginary Landscapes - Sounds Of America [20-CD Set]
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 44290 Release Date: 07/03/2012   Number of Discs: 20
    Composer:  John Philip Sousa,  Scott Joplin,  Ferde Grofé,  George Gershwin  ... 
    Performer:  Joshua Rifkin,  Ralph Grierson,  Richard Rodney Bennett,  Barry Tuckwell  ... 
    Conductor:  Timothy Foley,  George Sponhaltz,  Felix Slatkin,  Ferde Grofé  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Great American Main Street Band,  Southland Stingers,  Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 2.
    Essential American Classics
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 27851 Release Date: 06/05/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Louis M. Gottschalk,  Stephen Foster,  Edward MacDowell,  Scott Joplin  ... 
    Performer:  Leonard Pennario,  Salli Terri,  Evan Stover,  Molly Mason  ... 
    Conductor:  Simon Rattle,  Leonard Slatkin,  Neil Richardson,  John McGlinn  ... 
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  • 3.
    Gottschalk, Joplin, Gershwin / Joshua Rifkin, Leonard Pennario
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 0829342 Release Date: 11/15/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Scott Joplin,  Louis Moreau Gottschalk,  George Gershwin
    Performer:  Joshua Rifkin,  Leonard Pennario
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  • 4.
    American Classics - Joplin: Rags & Walzes / Rifkin, Southland Singers
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 34477 Release Date: 11/24/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Scott Joplin
    Performer:  Joshua Rifkin,  Ralph Grierson
    Conductor:  George Sponhaltz
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Southland Stingers
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  • 5.
    Rags & Tangos - Works By Scott, Nazareth & Lamb / Joshua Rifkin
    Label: Eloquence   Catalog: 4762445 Release Date: 06/12/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  James Scott,  Ernesto Nazareth,  Joseph Lamb
    Performer:  Joshua Rifkin
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  • 6.
    Rags And Tangos - Joshua Rifkin
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 425225 Release Date: 02/14/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  James Scott,  Ernesto Nazareth,  Joseph Lamb
    Performer:  Joshua Rifkin
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  • 7.
    Teresa Sterne - A Portrait
    Label: Nonesuch   Catalog: 79619 Release Date: 10/24/2000   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  George Crumb,  Traditional,  Charles Ives,  Elliott Carter  ... 
    Performer:  Michael Dash,  Jan DeGaetani,  Nadezhda Georgieva Klicherova,  Nadezhda Georgieva Palestova  ... 
    Conductor:  Arthur Weisberg,  Leslie Jones,  Raymond DesRoches,  Efrem Kurtz  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Contemporary Chamber Ensemble,  Little Orchestra of London,  New Jersey Percussion Ensemble  ... 
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  • 8.
    Scott Joplin: Piano Rags / Joshua Rifkin
    Label: Nonesuch   Catalog: 79159 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Scott Joplin
    Performer:  Joshua Rifkin
    CD: $15.99
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