Harpsichordist, pianist, musicologist and conductor Kenneth Cooper is one of the world’s leading specialists in the music of the 18th century and one of America’s most exciting and versatile performers. Renowned for his improvisations and his expertise in ornamentation, long-lost 18th century arts, he has revived countless works, lending them extraordinary authenticity as well as great vitality. The possessor of a PhD in musicology from Columbia University, Kenneth Cooper is a Music Associate there as well as serving as faculty at the Manhattan School of Music, where he is Chair of the Harpsichord Department and Director of the Baroque Aria Ensemble.
As Music Director of the Berkshire Bach Ensemble since its inception, Kenneth Cooper has made a tradition of the New Years performances of the Bach Brandenburg Concerti and has instituted a series of Concerto concerts, which have featured such superlative artists as Eugene Drucker and Ani and Ida Kavafian. He has been heard often at the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, Music@Menlo, Sherman Chamber Ensemble and Music at St Andrews in South Fallsburg, NY. A veteran of music festivals at Spoleto, Santa Fe, Lucerne and Salzburg, Dr Cooper has toured widely, having appeared recently at Chamber Music Northwest and with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
Over the past decades, Kenneth Cooper has made almost a hundred recordings, among them Bach’s Gamba-Harpsichord Sonatas (CBS, with Yo Yo Ma), the complete Bach Sonatas for Flute and Fortepiano (Bridge Records, with Susan Rotholz) and the Bach Brandenburg Concerti and Goldberg Variations (Berkshire Bach Society); his spectacular versions of ragtime and other American delights may be heard on Silks and Rags (EMI) and Should Auld Acquaintance be Forgot (Musical Heritage Society).
He is heard also on Mother Goose and More (UNIFEM/Classic Raps) and on the documentary Van Gogh Revisited. His most recent releases include the Bach Six Sonatas for Violin and Fortepiano with Ani Kavafian (Helicon-Kleos), the Artist Series from Music@Menlo (with Colin Carr and Carol Wincenc), and the CMS December 2006 Baroque Collection Program on itunes DG Concerts. Over the last few years, International Music Company has issued Kenneth Cooper's award-winning editions of Bach's Two and Three Part Inventions, his piano transcription of the Adagio and Scherzo from Schubert’s String Quintet in C and his reconstruction of Beethoven’s 1793 cadenza to his Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat. Most recently, International has published Dr Cooper's reconstructions of Debussy's never-composed Sonatas "No. 4" and "No. 5".