The American musicologist, pianist and conductor, Joshua Rifkin, studied with Persichetti at the Juilliard School of music in New York, receiving his B.S. in 1964. He also studied with Gustave Reese at New York University (1964-1966), at the University of Göttingen (1966-1967), and later with Mendel, Lockwood, Babbitt, and Oster at Princeton University, receiving his M.F.A. in 1969. He also worked with Stockhausen at Darmstadt in 1961 and 1965.
Joshua Rifkin has won international acclaim as conductor, pianist, and harpsichordist for performances of music ranging from Monteverdi to Igor Stravinsky, J.S. Bach to Richard Strauss, and Mozart to Gershwin, Copland, and the most recent moderns. He led The Bach Ensemble from 1978. He is noted for his research in the field of Renaissance and Baroque music, but he became popular as a performer and explicator of ragtime.
Joshua Rifkin has led and appeared as soloist with many prominent orchestras, among them the English Chamber Orchestra, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Victorian State Symphony of Melbourne, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Scottish: Chamber Orchestra, Prague Chamber Orchestra, Haydn Orchestra of Bolzano and Trent, Jerusalem Symphony, Solistas de México, BBC Concert Orchestra, City of London Sinfonia, National Arts Centre Orchestra of Ottawa, and Houston Symphony Orchestra.
Beyond his work with The Bach Ensemble, Joshua Rifkin's activities in the world of early music have included an enthusiastically received production of Monteverdi's L'Orfeo at Switzerland's Theater Basel, the modern premiere of Alessandro Scarlatti's Venere, Amore e Ragione in Chicago, Mozart's Requiem and poly-choral Psalms of Heinrich Schütz at the Utrecht Early Music Festival, and guest appearances with the Ensemble Gradus ad Parnassum of Vienna, Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, and St. James Baroque Players of London, as well as recordings of Mozart's "Posthorn" Serenade and several Haydn symphonies with the Cappella Coloniensis of Germany. Highlights with modern orchestras and ensembles include staged performances of I. Stravinsky's L'Histoire du soldat in the USA and Australia; the Melbourne premiere of Weill's Die sieben Todsünden; the European and Canadian premieres of Gunther Schuller's And They All Played Ragtime; J.S. Bach's St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244) in the 1911 version of Ivor Atkins and Edward Elgar; and the posthumous premiere and first recording of Silvestre Revueltas's theater music Este era un rey with the Camerata de las Americas.
Joshua Rifkin has taught in several universities, including Brandeis (1970-1982), Harvard, New York and Yale. He is noted for his research in the field of Renaissance and Baroque music, and contributed scholarly studies to many publications in America and Europe, among them The Musical Quarterly, Bach-Jahrbuch, The Journal of the American Musicological Society, Early Music Magazine, 19th Century Music, The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.
In 1999 the University of Dortmund, Germany, awarded Joshua Rifkin an honorary doctorate for his contributions to Bach interpretation; he has also held guest seminars, workshops, and master-classes at universities and conservatories throughout Europe and the USA. In the autumn of 2001 Joshua Rifkin makes his debut at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich with a new production of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas and George Frideric Handel's Acis and Galatea.