Tom Beghin

Academic title(s): 

Adjunct Professor

Tom Beghin
Music Research
Music Performance
Music History/Musicology
Contact Information
+1 (514) 398-4535, x 00304
+32 (9) 330 40 81
Email address: 
tom.beghin [at]
Alternate email address: 
tom.beghin [at]

Premier prix & Diplôme supérieur, Lemmens Institute, Leuven
Concert Certificate, Musik-Akademie der Stadt Basel
MA and DMA, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY


Tom Beghin, a leading fortepianist and artistic researcher, has been praised for his eloquence and originality.  With classicist Sander Goldberg he coedited Haydn and the Performance of Rhetoric, winner of the 2009 American Musicological Society Ruth A. Solie Award.  His monograph The Virtual Haydn: Paradox of a Twenty-First-century Keyboardist (University of Chicago Press, 2015) followed his monumental recording of the complete solo Haydn (Naxos 2009/2011).  An alumnus of the historically informed performance doctoral program at Cornell University, Prof. Beghin first taught at UCLA and since 2003 has been associate professor at McGill University. He also is the principal investigator of a research cluster at the Orpheus Institute in Ghent, Belgium, titled Declassifying the Classics, which focuses on the intersections of historical technologies and performance.  Beethoven and His Foreign Pianos is one of the cluster's current projects, of which Inside the Hearing Machine is the first major published result: a multi-disciplinary and multi-sensory exploration of a composer's deafly composing his three last Piano Sonatas, Opus 109, 110, and 111.

Tom Beghin performed in Early Music Festivals at Bruges, Utrecht, Paris, Berkeley, Palermo, Florence, and Montreal; participated in an epoch-making eight-concert series featuring all Beethoven sonatas on historical pianos in Merkin Hall, New York; concertized with acclaimed orchestras or ensembles such as the Akademie für alte Musik Berlin, Apollo-Ensemble, Arion, the Beethoven Academie, Caprice, and L’arpa festante (Münchener Barockorchester); teamed up with chamber music partners such as Les vents classiques du Québec, violinist Jaap Schröder, the Kuijken and Festetics String Quartets, violinist Anton Steck and cellist Markus Möllenbeck; is a member of Trio Galatea, with violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock and cellist Elisabeth Le Guin.  In the summer of 2006 he was the Festival Star at the Bruges Early Music Festival, performing. among others, Schubert’s Winterreise with tenor Jan van Elsacker, Haydn cantatas with soprano Olga Pasychnyk, and representing Mozart in a theatrical reconstruction of his 1781-competition against Clementi (with Erin Helyard, written by Robert J. Litz).

His discography on the Eufoda, Bridge Records, Claves, Klara/Et’cetera and EPR-Classic labels features keyboard music of Beethoven, Mozart, Moscheles, C.P.E. Bach, as well as songs by Haydn, Zelter and Mendelssohn (with Andrea Folan, soprano), and trios by Haydn and Clementi (with Trio Galatea).  His magnum opus, released on the Naxos label, is “The Virtual Haydn,” a recording of Haydn’s complete solo keyboard music, performed on seven different types of keyboards (some built especially for the project, for the first time in modern days) in nine different “virtual rooms” (for the first time applying technologies of “virtual acoustics” to a recording of this magnitude) in collaboration with two McGill colleagues, Tonmeister Martha de Francisco and virtual acoustics architect Wieslaw Woszczyk.  The project has recognized by the international press as “one of those truly rare occasions when, in several respects, new ground is being traversed” (BBC Music Magazine) and “one of the most audacious recording enterprises in recent memory” (; it was chosen as “Multichannel Disc of the Month” (Audiophile Audition) and was up for a 2011 Juno for “Music DVD of the Year,” as the first classical music production to be nominated in this category.

As a scholar he has published in various distinguished journals and collections.  With classicist Sander Goldberg he has edited Haydn and the Performance of Rhetoric (Chicago, 2007), winner of the 2009 “Ruth A. Solie Award” from the American Musicological Society.  Recognized for his expertise in eighteenth-century performance he has given concerts, workshops and lectures at, among others, the Haydn Festival in Esterháza (Fertöd, Hungary), the Utrecht Conservatory, the Cologne Musikhochschule, the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, the Aula de Música in Alcalá, and the Kunstuniversität Graz.  In 2004 the Haydn-Institut of Cologne inducted him as a member.  He was elected Director-at-Large of the Haydn Society of North America (2010-12) and has been on the board of directors of CIRMMT (Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Music Media and Technology, Montreal).

His research interests center around questions of 18th century & 19th century performance, the persona of the performer, rhetoric, aesthetics, social context, gender, the act of dedication, historical technology, virtual acoustics, and modern-day interpretation.  He is presently applying these perspectives to the study of Beethoven’s piano works.

Tom Beghin studied at the Lemmens Institute in Louvain, Belgium (with Alan Weiss), at the Musik-Akademie in Basel, Switzerland (with Rudolf Buchbinder and Jean Goverts), and received his doctoral degree with Malcolm Bilson and James Webster from Cornell University (Ithaca, New York).  After serving on the faculty at the University of California, Los Angeles (1997-2003), and residing at the National Humanities Center (North Carolina) as its “William J. Bouwsma Fellow” (2002-03), he became Associate Professor at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University (Montreal, Canada), where he teaches music history, performance practice, and fortepiano.  Since 2015 he has also been Senior Researcher at the Orpheus Institute (Ghent, Belgium).


The Virtual Salon, excerpt from live@CIRMMT concert, February 4, 2012

Tom Beghin demystifies Beethoven's piano technology:

"Pathétique" Sonata and the back-check

"Mondschein" Sonata and the undamped register

Schubert's Winterreise:

Rückblick - Der Lindenbaum - Auf dem Flusse - Der Leiermann

Selected publications: 


(as editor:) Myth and Reality in Beethoven’s Hammerklavier Sonata, Opus 106.  Keyboard Perspectives vol. 7: Yearbook of the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies.  Ithaca, NY: Westfield Center, 2015.

The Virtual Haydn: Paradox of a Twenty-First-Century Keyboardist.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015.

(as co-editor, with Sander Goldberg:) Haydn and the Performance of Rhetoric.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.  Winner of the 2009 AMS Ruth A. Solie Award.


“The C-natural that wants to be a C-sharp: Visions and Realities of Beethoven’s Broadwood.”  In Jonathan Impett (ed.), Artistic Research in Music: Discipline and Resistance.  Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2017), 43-87.

“Beethoven’s Hammerklavier Sonata, Opus 106: Legend, Difficulty, and the Gift of a Broadwood Piano."  In Tom Beghin (ed.), Myth and Reality: Beethoven’s Hammerklavier Sonata, Opus 106 (Keyboard Perspectives vol. 7: Yearbook of the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies).  Ithaca, NY: Westfield Center, 2015, 81-121.

“‘The Lady Named on the Title Page’: The Rhetoric of Dedication in Haydn’s Keyboard Works.”  In Bernhard R. Appel and Armin Raab (eds.), Widmungen bei Haydn und Beethoven: Personen – Strategien – Praktiken (Bonn: Verlag Beethoven-Haus Bonn, 2015), 93-120.

 “The Virtual Haydn: An Experiment in Recording, Performing, and Publishing.”  In Darla Crispin and Robert Gilmore (eds.), Sourcebook of Experimentation in Music.  Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2014, 291-306.

“Recognizing Musical Topics vs. Executing Rhetorical Figures.”  In Datura Mirka (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Topic Theory, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014, 551-576.

“Credo ut intelligam: Haydn’s Reading of the Credo Text.”  In Richard Will & Mary Hunter, eds., Haydn: Culture, Context, and Criticism.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012, 240-277.

“Playing Mozart’s Piano: An Exercise in Reverse-Engineering,” Keyboard Perspectives vol. I (2007-08), 1-35.

“‘Delivery, Delivery, Delivery!’ Crowning the Rhetorical Process of Haydn’s Keyboard Sonatas.”  In Tom Beghin & Sander Goldbergs (eds.), Haydn and the Performance of Rhetoric.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007, 131-171.

“‘Votre très humble & très obéissant serviteur’: Männliche und weibliche Rhetorik in Haydns Sonate Hob. XVI:40,” Haydn-Studien vol. 9 (2006), 33-57.

“A Composer, His Dedicatee, Her Instrument, and I: Thoughts on Performing Haydn’s Keyboard Sonatas.” In Caryl Clark (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Haydn.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005, 203-225.

“Three Builders.  Two Pianos.  One Pianist.  The Told and Untold Story of Ignaz Moscheles' Concert on December 15, 1823,” 19th-Century Music vol. 24 (2000), 115-148.

“Haydn as Orator: A Rhetorical Analysis of the Sonata in D Major Hob.XVI:42.”  In Elaine Sisman (ed.), Haydn and His World.  Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997, 201-254.


The Virtual Haydn: Complete Works for Solo Keyboard – box set of four Blu-ray discs - on seven historical keyboards, in nine “virtual” rooms  – with a feature-length documentary Playing the Room, dir. by Robert Litz & Jeremey Tusz - 15 hours of 5.0 and 2.0 audio; 3 hours of HD-video - Naxos NBD 0001-04 (2009)


Inside the Hearing Machine: Beethoven on His Broadwood - Piano Sonatas Opus 109, 110, and 111 - EPR-Classic (2017)

Schubert: Winterreise D 911, with Jan Van Elsacker, tenor – EPR-Classic (2014)

The Virtual Haydn: Complete Works for Solo Keyboard – box set of twelve CDs and one DVD – Naxos 8501203 (2011)

Mozart: Sonatas K331 & 570, Fantasia K 397, Adagio 540 – Klara/Et’cetera KTC 4015 (2006)

Haydn: Trios Hob. XV:27-29 and Clementi Trio op.27 #2, with Trio Galatea (Elizabeth Blumenstock, violin, and Elisabeth Le Guin, cello) – Klara/Et’cetera KTC 4010 (2005)

CPE Bach: 24 Character Pieces Wq. 117/17-40 (1754-57), with multi-media component (images by William Hogarth) – Eufoda 1347 (2003)

Ignaz Moscheles: Grosse Sonate Op.41, Sonate mélancolique Op.49, Characteristic Tribute to Malibran Op.94, La Gaité Op.85, Alexander-Variations Op.32 – Eufoda 1267 (2000)

Mendelssohn and Zelter: songs (with Andrea Folan, soprano) – Eufoda 1286 (1998)

Beethoven: Sonatas Op. 27 Nrs. 2, 31/2, 53, Andante Favori WoO 57 – Eufoda 1258 (1997)

Beethoven: Sonatas Op. 2/2, 13, 79, 90, 111 – Claves CD 50-9707/10 (1997), as part of Beethoven: The Complete Piano Sonatas on Period Instruments, by Malcolm Bilson and six former students.

Haydn: Sonatas Hob.XVI: 30, 42, 49, 50 – Eufoda 1230 (1996)

Haydn: XII German Songs (1781) and Arianna a Naxos (with Andrea Folan, soprano) - Bridge Records BCD 9059 (1995)

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