Rebecca Cypess

Rebecca Cypess joined the Rutgers faculty in the fall of 2012, having served previously as a faculty member in musicology at the New England Conservatory. She has also taught in the Department of Music at Yale University, at the Yale School of Music, and at Southern Connecticut State University. In her teaching and research she specializes in the history, interpretation and performance of music in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe. Her teaching methods are designed with the goal of helping students find their own voices, so that they can ask questions about music and learn to develop and articulate their own answers. She has a strong interest in issues of performance practice, and she enjoys teaching in ways that encourage students to combine musicology and performance.

  • Education

    Cypess earned her Ph.D. in music history from Yale in 2008, where, under the supervision of Ellen Rosand, she wrote a dissertation exploring connections between vocal and instrumental music in early 17th-century Italy. She holds an M.A. and an M.Phil. in music history from Yale, as well as an M.A. in Jewish Studies from Yeshiva University and an M.Mus. in harpsichord performance from the Royal College of Music (London). As an undergraduate at Cornell University, she studied musicology with James Webster, Neal Zaslaw, and Rebecca Harris-Warrick, and the performance of modern and early pianos with Malcolm Bilson. Her harpsichord teachers include James Johnstone, Robert Woolley, Mark Kroll, and Richard Rephann.

  • Publications

    Book project in progress:

    • · “Curious and Modern Inventions: Instrumentality and Italian Instrumental Music, 1610–1630.”

    Co-edited books, forthcoming:

    Articles in refereed journals:

    Book Chapters:

    • · “Music for a Saxon Princess,” in Word, Image, and Song: Vol. 2: Essays on Musical Voices, ed. Rebecca Cypess, Beth L. Glixon, and Nathan Link. Forthcoming from the University of Rochester Press (2013).
    • · “History and Faust Mythology in John Adams’s and Peter Sellars’s Doctor Atomic (2005)” in The Oxford Handbook of Faust in Music, ed. Lorna Fitzsimmons. Forthcoming from Oxford University Press.

    Book Reviews:

    • · Review of Charles E. Brewer, The Instrumental Music of Schmelzer, Biber, Muffat, and their Contemporaries, in the Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music (forthcoming).
    • · “An Italian in Dresden.” Review of Aurelio Bianco, “Nach englischer und frantzösischer Art”: Vie et oeuvre de Carlo Farina avec l’édition des cinq recueils de Dresde, in Early Music 39, no. 3 (August, 2011). 
    • · Review of Raymond Erickson, ed. The Worlds of Johann Sebastian Bach, in Early Music America 16, no. 2 (summer, 2010).
    • · Review of Kathleen Berg, “‘The Swiss Orpheus’: An Appraisal of the Life and Music of Ludwig Sennfl (1489/91—1543), in Early Music America 15, no. 3 (fall, 2009).
    • · Review of Giulia Nuti, The Performance of Italian Basso Continuo, in Early Music America 14, no. 1 (spring, 2008).

    Encyclopedia Articles

    • · Articles in the Encyclopaedia Britannica on Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre, Anastasia Robinson, the Concerto delle donne, Francesca Caccini, Settimia Caccini, Anna Renzi, and Barbara Strozzi.
    • · Article on Arnold Dolmetsch in Musicians and Composers of the Twentieth Century (Pasadena: Salem Press, 2009).

  • Research Initiatives

    Professional Memberships and Service

    For the Society for Seventeenth-Century Music Cypess served as a member of the program committee in 2012 and as chair of that committee in 2013. She is also a founding member of the American Musicological Society’s Study Group on Jewish Studies and Music, of which she was elected secretary in 2012, and for which she created the web page. She is a member of the academic advisory board for the Hadassah Brandeis Institute. She also served two three-year terms on the Committee on Career-Related Issues of the American Musicological Society.


    Cypess has delivered invited lectures at Indiana University, Cornell University, Wellesley College, and the International Baroque Institute at Longy. In addition, she has presented her work at national meetings of the American Musicological Society, the Renaissance Society of America, the Society for Seventeenth-Century Music, and the American Musical Instrument Society, as well as at the 14th Biennial Conference on Baroque Music (2010). In March, 2012, she organized, chaired, and spoke at a double-session for the conference of the Renaissance Society of America entitled “Sonic Transformations: Adapting, Collecting, and Listening in Early Modern Italy.”

    In September, 2013 she acted as co-convener of and presented a paper at a conference at Yale University entitled “Only the Passions Sing; the Understanding Can But Speak.”

    Performance Activities

    As a performer Cypess specializes in early keyboard instruments (harpsichords, clavichords, and  early pianos). She has performed in the period-instrument collections at the Royal College of Music and Yale University, and she has given solo and chamber recitals in the Boston, New York, and New Jersey areas. At Mason Gross she teaches performance practice courses and supervises independent studies and chamber groups in baroque and classical music. She looks forward to leading the Rutgers Baroque Players, a new period-instrument ensemble, beginning in the spring of 2014. Her current performance project, with soprano Julianne Baird and harpist Christa Patton, is a program entitled “Apollo’s Muse,” centered around the Roman singer–composer Marc’Antonio Pasqualini (1614–1691). Upcoming programs will include a recital of music that was played by the late 18th-century Berlin salonnière Sara Levy, a student and patron of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach.