James Webster (musicologist)

James Webster is a musicologist, specializing in the music of Joseph Haydn and other composers of the classical era. His professional position is as the Goldwin Smith Professor of Music at Cornell University.

Research and writing

He has published several books in his field, including a massive study of Haydn's "Farewell" Symphony and (with Georg Feder) the Haydn article in the current edition of the New Grove, spun off as a separate book.

His website lists the following areas of specialization (links to articles in this encyclopedia are added):

Webster's work is notable for his willingness to sift through and assess conflicting sources of historical evidence. His biography of Haydn particularly reflects this tendency, and unlike several earlier Haydn biographers, he is generally unwilling to fill in the narrative with conjecture, particularly conjecture about how Haydn must have felt or what he must have done on some particular occasion.

Webster is highly devoted to the earlier works of Haydn, and has consistently asserted his opposition to the views of Charles Rosen and others who assert a course of "progress" and learning through the composer's career. He has expressed strong views on the quality of current urtext editions and their appropriateness for use in performance; for quotations and discussion see Urtext edition.

Books authored and edited


Webster is the dedicatee of a festschrift volume published 2014 by Cambridge University Press, with contributions by colleagues including Elaine Sisman, Neal Zaslaw, and Lewis Lockwood; see References below.



External links

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