Faculty | Musicology
Associate Professor of Musicology Director, Collegium Musicum
office: MSM 215
office phone: (713)743-3150
address: 120 School of Music Bldg, Houston, TX 77204-4017
Matthew Dirst is Associate Professor of Music at the Moores School, where he teaches courses in music history, performance practice, and directs the Moores School Collegium Musicum. He is also the founding Artistic Director of Ars Lyrica Houston , a period-instrument ensemble that specializes in Baroque chamber and dramatic works. His academic degrees include a PhD in musicology from Stanford University, MM in organ and Master of Sacred Music degrees from Southern Methodist University, and a BM from the University of Illinois. A Fulbright scholar to France, he received the coveted prix de virtuosité in both organ and harpsichord with teachers Marie-Claire Alain and Huguette Dreyfus and did further harpsichord study with Alan Curtis at UC Berkeley. He is the first American musician to win major international prizes in both organ and harpsichord, including first prize at the American Guild of Organists National Young Artist Competition (1990) and second prize at the inaugural Warsaw International Harpsichord Competition (1993). His publications on the music of Bach and its reception in Early Music, Notes, Music and Letters, and Bach Perspectives, and Eighteenth-Century Studies. He is the author of the Bach as Idea: Strategies in the Reception of the Keyboard Works, 1750 - 1850, forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.
Under Dirst's direction, Ars Lyrica has introduced Houston audiences to a number of important early Baroque composers, including Alessandro Scarlatti and Marc-Antoine Charpentier, whose seldom-heard oratorios and operas are among the glories of the age. Ars Lyrica's numerous Houston premières also include Jacopo Peri's Euridice (first surviving opera), Handel's first oratorio, Il Trionfo del Tempo (in its American première), John Blow's Venus and Adonis (the first English opera) and Claudio Monteverdi's monumental Vespers of 1610. Ars Lyrica is likewise committed to the continued exploration of later Baroque masterworks, including major works by Bach and Handel, in innovative dramatizations that give new life to even the most familiar scores. Ars Lyrica's first CD (on the NAXOS label) features music of Alessandro Scarlatti, including the modern world première of his oratorio La Concettione della Beata Vergine. These pioneering efforts have made Ars Lyrica "the leader among Houston's early music ensembles" (Houston Chronicle) and have established Houston as a center for historically-informed music making.
As a soloist, Dirst has concertized widely throughout North America and Europe. During the last few years, he has performed at Les Subsistances in Lyon, France, the National Gallery of Art, Pacific Lutheran University, Arizona State University, Notre Dame University, St Bartholomew's Church in New York City, and at national conventions and conferences of the American Guild of Organists, the Music Teachers National Association, and the American Institute of Organbuilders. Concert appearances have included concerti with the Texas Festival Orchestra at Round Top, the Houston Symphony, the Texas Baroque Ensemble, the El Paso Symphony, the Marin Symphony, and the Calgary Philharmonic.