Dr. Matthew Dirst


Contact Information




Houston, Texas

Early Music Skills & Interests

Conductor, Harpsichord, Organ

Early Music Affiliations

Conductor, Music/Artistic Director, Musicologist, Performer


Matthew Dirst is the first American to win major international prizes in both organ and harpsichord, including first prize at the American Guild of Organists Young Artist Competition (1990) and second prize at the Warsaw International Harpsichord Competition (1993). He is founder and Artistic Director of the Grammy-nominated period instrument ensemble Ars Lyrica Houston and Professor of Music at the University of Houston. Widely admired for his stylish playing and conducting of Baroque music especially, the Dallas Morning News recently praised his “crisp but expressive direction” of the Monteverdi 1610 Vespers, which “yielded impressive precision, but also rhythmic buoyancy and rhetorical freedom,” while naming this performance “Best Classical Performance of 2010.” Early Music America described his most recent solo CD, of harpsichord works by François and Armand-Louis Couperin (Centaur), as a “stylish, tasteful, and technically commanding performance… expressive and brilliant playing.” Dirst’s recordings of music by Scarlatti and Hasse with Ars Lyrica Houston, on the Naxos and Dorian-Sono Luminus labels, have earned a Grammy nomination (for Best Opera 2011) and widespread critical acclaim. His degrees include a 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, his work on Bach and Bach reception is published in a variety of journals, and his book Engaging Bach: The Keyboard Legacy from Marpurg to Mendelssohn was published by Cambridge University Press in early 2012. Matthew Dirst's website: http://www.music.uh.edu/people/dirst.html


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