Matthew Dirst is the first American musician to win major international prizes in both organ and harpsichord, including the American Guild of Organists National Young Artist Competition and the Warsaw International Harpsichord Competition. 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.” Early Music America hailed 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 Houston, Dirst leads a period-instrument ensemble with several acclaimed recordings, including a recording of Johann Adolph Hasse’s Marc Antonio e Cleopatra that was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2011 for Best Opera. 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, Dirst is Professor of Music at the Moores School of Music, University of Houston. His publications include Engaging Bach: The Keyboard Legacy from Marpurg to Mendelssohn (Cambridge University Press, 2012), Bach and the Organ (University of Illinois Press, 2016), and Learned Play: Bach’s Art of Fugue and Musical Offering (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2023).
Matthew Dirst features in the “A Bach Keyboard Extravaganza” concert film, and makes his in-person debut at the Festival in a solo recital (Follies & Fantasies June 20, 2022) and Bach double concerto performance (Many Happy Returns June 19, 2022) at this year’s “Resounding!” Festival.