David Breitman

  • Associate Professor of Historical Performance


  • SB, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1976
  • MM, New England Conservatory, 1981
  • DMA, Cornell University, 1992
  • fortepiano study with Malcolm Bilson
  • piano study with Patricia Zander


Pianist David Breitman directs the Historical Performance Program. He is equally at home with the fortepiano and the modern piano, and enjoys both solo and ensemble playing. Recent seasons have included Beethoven’s Fourth Concerto and Choral Fantasy on both historical and modern pianos, and several performances at the renowned Cobbe Collection of historical instruments outside of London.

Breitman's most recent projects involve more Beethoven: a recording of the violin sonatas with Elizabeth Wallfisch and the cello sonatas and variations with Jaap ter Linden, both available on Nimbus.

He now shares his enthusiasm for this repertoire with students in the courses Performing Beethoven’s Violin/Cello Sonatas. He is working on a book titled Time-Travel for Pianists: How Today’s Players Can Learn from Yesterday’s Instruments.

Breitman's collaboration with baritone Sanford Sylvan spans more than 30 years, with several hundred recitals and four CDs, ranging from Schubert’s Die sShöne Müllerin, to the premiere recording of The Glass Hammer, a major song cycle by the Cuban-American composer Jorge Martin. He has recorded the Mozart piano-violin sonatas on historical instruments with Jean-François Rivest for Analekta and, in a collaboration of a different sort, he is one of seven fortepianists on the 10-CD recording of the complete Beethoven piano sonata cycle on CLAVES.

Selected recordings featuring Breitman:

Ludwig van Beethoven: The Music for Piano and Cello with Jaap ter Linden, cello (Nimbus)

Beethoven: Sonatas for Violin and Fortepiano with Elizabeth Wallfisch, violin (Nimbus)

W.A. Mozart: Complete Sonatas For Fortepiano And Violin, Vol. 1: Mannheim Sonatas, with Jean-Francois Rivest, violin (Analekta)

Gabriel Fauré: L'horizon Chimerique, with Sanford Sylvan, baritone (Nonesuch)

Jorge Martin: The Glass Hammer, with Sanford Sylvan, baritone (eOne)

Franz Schubert: Die Schöne Müllerin, with Sanford Sylvan, baritone (Nonesuch)



David Breitman publishes new book

February 17, 2021

Associate Professor David Breitman has been introducing Oberlin Conservatory students to historical keyboards since 1991. In his new book Piano-Playing Revisited, What Modern Players Can Learn from Period Instrumentsreleased this month by University of Rochester Press, Breitman acknowledges the dilemma of confronting historical repertoire with modern instruments, then shows how to apply insights from period instruments to practical problems on any piano. A series of videos that he recorded primarily in Oberlin's Clonick Hall illustrates the musical examples .


Chasing History

May 13, 2015

Inspired by his Oberlin mentors, historical keyboard player Jake Street ’12 digs into the past for clues to improve his playing.