Rifkin, Joshua , American conductor, pianist, harpsichordist, and musicologist; b. N.Y., April 22, 1944. He studied in N.Y. at the H.S. of Music and Art, took courses in theory and composition at the Juilliard Preparatory Division, and received lessons in piano from David Labovitz. He pursued training in composition at the Juilliard School of Music (B.S., 1964), and also attended the composition courses of Stockhausen in Darmstadt (summers, 1961, 1965). His studies in musi-cology were undertaken at N.Y.U. (1964–66), and he also studied composition with Lutyens in Dartington (summers, 1965–66). After attending the Univ. of Göttingen on a Fulbright scholarship in 1966–67, he completed his training in musicology at Princeton Univ. (M.F.A., 1970). From 1963 to 1975 he was associated with Nonesuch Records in N.Y. In 1970 he joined the faculty of Brandeis Univ. as an instructor, and then served as an asst. (1971–77) and assoc. (1977–82) prof. there. From 1975 to 1982 he was active with L’Ensemble of N.Y. Rifkin founded the Bach Ensemble in 1978, which he led in historically informed performances that were often controversial but always stimulating. He led it on various tours of the U.S. and abroad, making debut appearances in England, Germany, and Italy in 1988, Canada and Belgium in 1992, Austria, France, and Poland in 1993, and Australia in 1997. As a guest conductor, he appeared with the St. Louis Sym. Orch. in 1985, the Victorian State Sym. Orch. in Melbourne, the San Francisco Sym., and the St. Paul (Minn.) Chamber Orch. in 1989, the Los Angeles Chamber Orch. in 1990, the City of London Sinfonia in 1996, the Jerusalem Sym. Orch. and the Prague Chamber Orch. in 1990, and the National Arts Centre Orch. in Ottawa and the Houston Sym. Orch. in 1999, among others. In 1999 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Univ. of Dortmund. His articles have appeared in scholarly books and many learned journals. In addition to his espousal of early music, Rifkin’s varied repertoire includes scores by the Classical, Romantic, and contemporary masters, as well as rags and tangos.
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire