Bradley Brookshire is a musicologist and harpsichordist in Manhattan. His particular musicological focus – although he has abandoned the designation musicologist, preferring to be called a social or cultural anthropologist of music – is the historiography of Bach-performance practice as understood in an interdisciplinary context that is informed by social and cultural anthropology, hermeneutics, dialectical theory, and cognitive science. He recently published a study of William Byrd's "Walsingham" Variations, interpreting them within the social setting for which they were originally composed: the Anglo-Catholic Recusant community of the late-sixteenth century.
He also maintains an active performing career. He is harpsichordist for the Metropolitan Opera, where he is an Assistant Conductor. His solo harpsichord recording of J.S. Bach’s French Suites was named a Critic’s Choice’ recording of the year 2001 by New York Times. His 2007 recording of Bach’s Art of Fuguewas similarly recognized with a five-star rating and a European distribution contract by Goldberg magazine.
He is an Associate Professor of Music in the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College (SUNY), where he teaches baroque performance practice and history. SUNY awarded him the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Creative Activity in 2003. He is currently at work on a full-length biography of the German pianist Edwin Fischer, the first ever on this artist.
Areas of Specialization:
• Impoverished causality in the historiography of musical performance practice, particularly in the "authenticity" debate of the mid-1980s.
• Wölfflin and Worringer's theories of "aesthetic empathy" as expressed through musical performance practice.
• Kunstreligion in Late-Wilhelmine and Weimar-Republic Era Germany as expressed by Albert Schweitzer and his followers.
• Application of Alfred Gell's theories of the social anthropology of art – particularly the "abduction of agency" – to musical performance practice.
• Max Nordau's theory of cultural degeneracy and its impact on Bach-performance practice of the early-twentieth century.
• Abstraction in musical performance: the influence to the thought of Adolf Loos, Otto Wagner, Johannes Itten, and Walter Gropius upon the Bach pianism of Ferruccio Busoni and Edwin Fischer.
• Architects of modern Bach performance: "structural amplification" in the Bach-performance practice of Albert Schweitzer, Karl Straube, Ferrucio Busoni and Edwin Fischer.