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Artist Reviews

“Multiple keyboard skills coupled with intellectual rigor and creativity characterize the work of Matthew Dirst…his hands whirred through the flashing runs and bizarre flourishes of Wilhelm Friedemann Bach’s Concerto.”  

- The American Organist

Bach on Harpsichord

Saturday, March 14 at 5:00 pm

Duncan Hall / Shepherd School of Music Rice University

In a special concert for full-season subscribers, Artistic Director Matthew Dirst performs a solo recital that pairs Bach’s iconic “Italian Concerto” with two of his most sumptuous French dance suites for harpsichord.

  • “English” Suite No. 2 in A Minor, BWV 807

  • Concerto in the Italian Style, BWV 971

  • Partita IV in D Major, BWV 828


Matthew Dirst , harpsichord

Matthew Dirst, harpsichord



Ars Lyrica founder and artistic director Matthew Dirst is the first American musician to win major international prizes in both organ and harpsichord. Widely admired for his stylish playing and conducting, he was recently described in the Washington Post as an “efficient, extremely precise conductor who has an ear for detail and up-to-date ideas about performing Bach.” His Handel has also made the critics sing: the Dallas Morning News enthused that “conducting both clear and evocative by Matthew Dirst yielded a performance as irresistibly lively as it was stylish. The music danced.” Early Music America celebrated his solo recording of harpsichord works by François and Armand-Louis Couperin as a “stylish, tasteful, and technically commanding performance…expressive and brilliant playing.” As Artistic Director of Ars Lyrica, Dirst leads a period-instrument ensemble with several acclaimed recordings, one of which—the world premiere recording of Johann Adolph Hasse’s Marc Antonio e Cleopatra—was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2011 for Best Opera. In addition to his work with Ars Lyrica, Dirst appears during 2018 with the Washington Bach Consort, the Portland Baroque Orchestra, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Houston Symphony, and San Francisco Early Music Society.  
Matthew Dirst holds the PhD in musicology from Stanford University and the prix de virtuosité in both organ and harpsichord from the Conservatoire National de Reuil-Malmaison, France, where he spent two years as a Fulbright scholar. Equally active as a scholar and organist, he serves currently as Professor of Music at the Moores School of Music, University of Houston, and organist at St Philip Presbyterian Church in Houston. Dirst is the author of Engaging Bach: The Keyboard Legacy from Marpurg to Mendelssohn (Cambridge University Press, 2012) and the editor of Bach and the Organ (University of Illinois Press, 2016).