Ellen Exner

Ellen Exner is a specialist in music of the eighteenth century, specifically music of the Bach family and Berlin in the time of King Frederick II (“The Great”). After receiving undergraduate degrees from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in Music History as well as Russian Language and Literature (both cum laude), Exner went on to receive an M.A. from Smith College and then a Ph.D. in Historical Musicology from Harvard University. Her current book project re-examines the eighteenth-century roots of Mendelssohn’s famous 1829 Berlin performance of J. S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion and the music-historical mythology that surrounds it.


Exner is actively engaged with baroque repertory as both a scholar and a performer on historical oboes. She has published critical editions of music by Gottfried August Homilius (Carus: Stuttgart) as well as his contemporary Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (“Passion according to St. Luke” (1774), Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach: Complete Works Edition). Her research appears in publications such as Early Music, Eighteenth-Century Music, BACH: Journal of the Riemenschneider Bach Institute, The New Grove Dictionary of American Music, and German-language volumes devoted studies of Homilius as well as Georg Philipp Telemann. Recent articles include a new study of the dedication of Corelli’s Op. V violin sonatas to Queen Sophie Charlotte of Prussia.


Dr. Exner is a member of the Editorial Board of the American Bach Society and was formerly Editor of its official newsletter, Bach Notes. She has taught courses on baroque music as well as the history of art song by invitation at Boston University, Harvard University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her work has brought her invitations to lecture at Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Emory, Boston’s Handel & Haydn Society, Boston Conservatory, the University of Oregon, the Riemenschneider Bach Institute at Baldwin-Wallace University, the University of Dayton, the Dayton Bach Society, and now the Toronto Bach Festival. Exner joined the full-time Music History faculty at the New England Conservatory of Music in fall of 2015.

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