Rebecca Cypess

Associate Director, Music Department

Rebecca Cypess joined the Rutgers faculty in 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, Cypess specializes in the history, interpretation, and performance practices of music in 17th- and 18th-century Europe, as well as music in Jewish culture and women in music. She received a grant from the American Association of University Women for her first book, Curious and Modern Inventions: Instrumental Music as Discovery in Galileo’s Italy. She has also received project and research grants from the American Philosophical Society, the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, the Music & Letters Trust, the Rutgers Research Council, the DAAD, the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, and others.

A harpsichordist and fortepianist, Cypess is engaged in long-term publication, performance, and recording projects related to the musical practices of salon women in the late eighteenth century, including Sara Levy in Berlin, Anne-Louise Brillon de Jouy in Paris, and others. Her second book, currently in progress, explores 18th-century musical salons as sites of women’s cultural agency, locating the networks and practices that connected them as well as their distinctive characteristics—products of each hostess’s musical tastes, musicianship, and cultural environment. In addition to her written work on this subject, she is engaged in performance projects that help to bring women’s practices of the 18th century back to life. With the ensemble that she founded, the Raritan Players, she released the recording In Sara Levy's Salon (Acis Productions, 2017), which has been praised for providing “a stellar glimpse” into Levy’s musical world (Early Music America) and received five stars from Classical Music.

Rutgers has selected Cypess’s work on Sara Levy to be featured by Benefunder, an organization that directs donors toward the support of research. Cypess is a faculty affiliate of the Department of Jewish Studies of the School of Arts and Sciences.

  • Education

    Cypess earned her PhD 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 MA and an MPhil in music history from Yale, as well as an MA in Jewish Studies from Yeshiva University and an MM 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


    • · The Raritan Players and Rebecca Cypess, In Sara Levy's Salon, Acis Productions B06ZYP8SRN, 2017.


    Co-edited books:

    Articles in refereed journals:

    Co-authored articles:

    Book Chapters:

    • · "Italy," in The Cambridge Companion to the Harpsichord, ed. Mark Kroll (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming).

    • · “Arrangement Practices in the Bach Tradition, Then and Now,” in Musical Interpretation Today, ed. Sezi Seskir and David Hyun-Su Kim (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, forthcoming in 2018).

    • · “The Musical Duet in the Circle of Sara Levy and the Ideal of ‘Unity in Multiplicity,’” in Sara Levy’s World: Music, Gender, and Judaism in Enlightenment Berlin, ed. Rebecca Cypess and Nancy Sinkoff (Rochester: University of Rochester Press, forthcoming in 2018).

    • · “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.

    • · “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. University of Rochester Press, 2013.

    Book Reviews:

    • · Review of Biagio Marini, Madrigali e symfonie, ed. Aurelio Bianco and Sara Dieci, in Music and Letters.

    • · Review of recordings of seventeenth-century music by the ensemble ACRONYM, in Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music.

    • · Review of Sarah M. Ross, A Season of Singing: Creating Feminist Jewish Music in the United States in Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women's Studies and Gender Issues (forthcoming)

    • · Review of Paul Schleuse, Singing Games in Early Modern Italy: The Music Books of Orazio Vecchi in Music and Letters 97, no. 1 (2016): 151–53

    • · Review of recording by the Carmel Quartet, Paul Ben-Haim: Chamber Music for Strings, in Min-Ad: Israel Studies in Musicology, vol. 12.

    • · Review of Susan McClary, ed., Structures of Feeling in Seventeenth-Century Cultural Expression, in H-France Reviews.

    • · Review of Charles E. Brewer, The Instrumental Music of Schmelzer, Biber, Muffat, and their Contemporaries, in the Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music.

    • · “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

    Performance Activities

    As a performer, Cypess specializes in 17th- and 18th-century harpsichords and fortepianos. She has performed in the original-instrument collections at the Royal College of Music and Yale University, and has given solo and chamber recitals in the Boston, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania areas. She plays regularly with Mango Baroque, led by soprano Marguerite Krull. Forthcoming recordings include “Face to Face: Fortepiano-Harpsichord Duos from the Bach Family” with fortepianist Yi-heng Yang, and, with soprano Julianne Baird and baroque harpist Christa Patton, "Apollo's Muse: A Portrait of Marc'Antonio Pasqualini," featuring cantatas by Pasqualini and vocal and instrumental music by his 17th-century Roman contemporaries.

    Professional Memberships and Service

    Cypess is the secretary of the Society for Seventeenth-Century Music, having previously served as a member (2012) and chair (2013) of the program committee for the annual meeting. She is also a founding member of the American Musicological Society’s Study Group on Jewish Studies and Music, of which she previously served as secretary. She is a member of the Council of the American Musicological Society and the academic advisory board for the Hadassah Brandeis Institute.