Program Overview

Historical Instruments

Our Historical Instruments Program features study in seven period instruments (harpsichord, fortepiano, organ, historical flutes, historical oboes, recorder, Baroque violin, Baroque cello, and viola da gamba). Coursework includes applied study, music history, continuo realization at the keyboard, performance practice, and music theory. Students also will have a range of performance opportunities.

student playing a historical instrument
Third-year student Orion Sidoti takes a break from his computer science studies to practice the viola da gamba, an instrument he has always wanted to learn.
Photo credit: Yevhen Gulenko

Program Facts

Program Director

David Breitman,
Associate Professor of Historical Performance

students perform on baroque instruments
Oberlin Conservatory students perform on period instruments as members of the Oberlin Baroque Orchestra.
Photo credit: Dale Preston ’83

Oberlin Baroque Orchestra

Oberlin sponsors approximately 500 concerts on campus each year, including recitals and concerts by the more than 25 student ensembles, including the Oberlin Baroque Ensemble. From jazz to contemporary guitar, classical to popular, computer-generated to acoustic, and from time-tested compositions to newer works, the college and conservatory present performances to satisfy any musical interest.

Performance Ensembles

Historical Instruments Faculty

Conservatory faculty maintain active performance schedules while remaining accessible and committed to their students. Individual instruction is paramount to helping students develop their mechanical, technical, stylistic, psychological, and musical skills.

Oberlin is really notable for having paid attention to this field earlier than virtually any school in the United States. Music students the world over are still eager to play old music. It’s really astonishing.

David Breitman, Associate Professor of Historical Performance

Historical Instruments News

The Dark Side of Orpheus

March 7, 2024

Oberlin Opera Theater’s latest production gives a complex, contemporary take on the familiar story of the Greek hero in Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo.
Graphic depiction of chest of man in black suit with red tie, staircase and back of a figure wearing a white gown and one wearing a black suit