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Prof John Rink

Prof  John Rink

Professor of Musical Performance Studies

Director of Studies in Music, St John's College

Faculty of Music
11 West Road

Cambridge CB3 9DP
Office Phone: 01223 746413


John Rink is Professor of Musical Performance Studies in the Faculty of Music, and Fellow and Director of Studies in Music at St John's College. He studied at Princeton University, King's College London, and the University of Cambridge, where his doctoral research was on the evolution of tonal structure in Chopin's early music and its relation to improvisation. He also holds the Concert Recital Diploma and Premier Prix in piano from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. He specialises in the fields of performance studies, theory and analysis, and nineteenth-century studies, and has published six books with Cambridge University Press, including The Practice of Performance: Studies in Musical Interpretation (1995), Chopin: The Piano Concertos (1997), Musical Performance: A Guide to Understanding (2002), and Annotated Catalogue of Chopin's First Editions (with Christophe Grabowski; 2010). He is a co-editor of Chopin Studies 2 (with Jim Samson; 2004) and the Cambridge Companion to Recorded Music (with Nicholas Cook, Daniel Leech-Wilkinson and Eric Clarke; 2009); he is also General Editor of the five-book series Studies in Musical Performance as Creative Practice, which Oxford University Press will publish in 2017. He co-edited one of the books - Musicians in the Making: Pathways to Creative Performance - in collaboration with Helena Gaunt and Aaron Williamon. 

John Rink directed the £2.1 million AHRC Research Centre for Musical Performance as Creative Practice, which was based at the University of Cambridge from 2009 to 2015 in partnership with King's College London, the University of Oxford and Royal Holloway, University of London, and in association with the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. He currently directs the Cambridge Centre for Musical Performance Studies, which was launched at the University of Cambridge in 2015. He is one of four Series Editors of The Complete Chopin – A New Critical Edition, and he directs two other research projects: Chopin's First Editions Online (funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council) and Online Chopin Variorum Edition (funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation). He was also Principal Investigator of the project 'Cross-cultural perspectives on the creative development of choirs and choral conductors', which was pursued in collaboration with the Universidade de São Paulo and funded by the British Academy. He was an Associate Director of the AHRC Research Centre for the History and Analysis of Recorded Music (CHARM), and he chaired the Steering Committees of the AHRC's 'Beyond Text' and 'Landscape and Environment' Strategic Programmes; he also served on the AHRC's Advisory Board and chaired the Science in Culture Advisory Group. He sits on the editorial boards of Music & Letters and Musicae Scientiae; is on the Advisory Panels of Music AnalysisMusica Humana, the 'Academic Book of the Future' project, and the Institute of Musical Research; and has been a member of the AHRC's Peer Review College. He holds several honorary appointments, including Visiting Professor in the Department of Music, Royal Holloway, University of London; Guest Professor at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music; and Visiting Professor in the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, Queen Mary University of London. In 2012-13 he was Ong Teng Cheong Visiting Professor in Music at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, National University of Singapore. He was a member of the jury of the XVII International Chopin Competition held in October 2015 in Warsaw.

John Rink's PhD students at Cambridge have worked on 'creating structure through performance' (Ana Llorens), 'intergenerational creativity and embodied memory in the revived ballets of Arthur Bliss' (Michael Byrne), seventeenth-century German keyboard pedagogy and playing techniques (John McKean), 'difficulty' in musical performance (Naomi Woo), 'collective creativity' in studio production in 1960s Britain (Myles Eastwood; co-supervised with Nicholas Cook), interpreting topoi in performance (Sheila Guymer; also co-supervised with Nicholas Cook), and temporality in Messaien (Roderick Chadwick; co-supervised with Jeremy Thurlow). He has also co-supervised a doctoral student at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. His previous PhD students include the following:

  • Leslie Anne Lewis, 'The incomplete conductor: theorizing the conductor and orchestral interpretation in the light of shared leadership practices' (2012)
  • Jonelle Daniels, 'The interaction of words and music in the Shakespeare settings of Peter Warlock (Philip Heseltine): writer/composer; score/performance' (2011)
  • Avior Byron, 'Schoenberg as performer: an aesthetics in practice' (2007)
  • Hui Chi Khoo, 'Playing with dynamics in the music of Chopin' (2007)
  • Anne Widén, 'Liszt and The Musical Times: a study of reception in Victorian England' (2006)
  • Daphne Craig, 'Interpreting metre and rhythm in five of Debussy's Douze Etudes' (2005)
  • Sarah Smith, 'Analysing and performing texture in Scriabin's piano music' (2004)
  • Danae Stefanou, 'Placing the musical landscape: performance, spatiality and the primacy of experience' (2004)
  • Peter Cornish, 'Conception and enactment in musical performance' (2002)
  • Elaine Goodman, 'Analysing the ensemble in music rehearsal and performance: the nature and effects of interaction in cello-piano duos' (2000)
  • Matthew Riley, 'Attentive listening: the concept of Aufmerksamkeit and its significance in German musical thought 1770-1790' (2000)
  • Jeremy Barham, 'Mahler's Third Symphony and the philosophy of Gustav Fechner: interdisciplinary approaches to criticism, analysis and interpretation' (1998).

Departments and Institutes

St John's College:
Fellow and Director of Studies in Music

Research Interests

Nineteenth-century music (especially Chopin, Liszt and Brahms), performance studies (especially analysis and performance), improvisation, theory and analysis, and digital applications in musicology

Key Publications


Christophe Grabowski and John Rink, Annotated Catalogue of Chopin's First Editions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010). Recipient of the C.B. Oldman Prize, 2011 (IAML UK & Irl) and the Vincent H. Duckles Award, 2012 (Music Library Association). Reviewed in NotesNineteenth-Century Music Review, Music & Letters, The Library, etc. Expanded, revised version released in 2015 as Annotated Catalogue Online (ACO), as part of Chopin Online resource.

Musical Performance: A Guide to Understanding, ed. John Rink (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002; parallel eBooks edition 2005). Italian translation: L'esecuzione musicale (Rugginenti Editore: Milan, 2008). Spanish translation: La interpretación musical (Madrid: Alianza Editorial SA, 2006). Simplified Chinese translation to be published by Shanghai Music Publishing House, 2017. Reviewed in Musicae Scientiae, Psychology of Music, Music and Letters, Music Teacher, etc. 

Chopin: The Piano Concertos (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997). Recipient of the Stefan and Wanda Wilk Book Prize, 2003. Reviewed in Times Literary Supplement, Musical TimesPolish Music Journal, etc. Polish translation: Chopin: koncerty fortepianowe (Warsaw: Narodowy Instytut Fryderyka Chopina, 2015). 

The Practice of Performance: Studies in Musical Interpretation, ed. John Rink (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995; paperback reprint 2005; parallel eBooks edition 2009) Reviewed in Analisi, Diastema, Indiana Theory Review, Journal of the Royal Musical Association, La Cartellina, Musicae Scientiae, Music Analysis, Music Perception, Musurgia, Notes, Orpheotron, Times Literary Supplement, etc. 

Internet resources 

Online Chopin Variorum Edition (OCVE), funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation: (pilot phase 2004; phase 1 2010; phase 2 2015; phase 3 2017) 

Chopin's First Editions Online (CFEO), funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council: (2007; updated 2015)

Annotated Catalogue Online (ACO): (2015)


Fryderyk Chopin, Piano Concerto in F minor Op. 21 (with newly composed second-piano part), The Complete Chopin: A New Critical Edition (London: Peters Edition, 2010). Chinese translation published 2016 by Central Conservatory of Music Press, Beijing.

Fryderyk Chopin, Piano Concerto in E minor Op. 11 (with newly composed second-piano part), The Complete Chopin: A New Critical Edition (London: Peters Edition, 2008). Chinese translation published 2016 by Central Conservatory of Music Press, Beijing.

Other Publications

Books (see also Key Publications)

Musicians in the Making: Pathways to Creative Performance, ed. John Rink, Helena Gaunt and Aaron Williamon (New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2017)

The Cambridge Companion to Recorded Music, ed. Nicholas Cook, Eric Clarke, Daniel Leech-Wilkinson and John Rink (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009) 

Chopin Studies 2, ed. John Rink and Jim Samson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994; paperback reprint 2006). Reviewed in BBC Music Magazine, Classical Piano, Journal of the Royal Musical Association, Musical Times, Music AnalysisTimes Literary Supplement, etc. 

Book chapters and conference proceedings 

'Impersonating the Music in Performance', in The Oxford Handbook to Musical Identities, ed. David Hargreaves, Raymond MacDonald and Dorothy Miell (New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2016)

Neta Spiro, Nicolas Gold and John Rink, 'Musical Motives in Performance: A Study of Absolute Timing Patterns', in Mathemusical Conversations: Mathematics and Computation in Music Performance and Composition, ed. Jordan B. L. Smith, Elaine Chew and Gérard Assayag (Singapore: Imperial College Press and World Scientific, 2016), 109-28

'Playing with the Chopin Sources', in Chopin et son temps / Chopin and his Time, ed. Vanja Hug and Thomas Steiner (Bern: Peter Lang, 2016), 41-53 [revised, expanded version of eponymous 2013 essay listed below]

'Making the Music Work: Towards a "Dynamic Edition" of Chopin', in Genèses musicales, ed. Nicolas Donin, Almuth Grésillon and Jean-Louis Lebrave (Paris: Presses de l'université Paris-Sorbonne, 2015), 255-65

'Chopin's Study in Syncopation', in Bach to Brahms: Essays on Musical Design and Structure, ed. David Beach and Yosef Goldenberg (Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2015), 132-42. Volume received Society for Music Theory's Outstanding Multi-Author Award in 2016.

'The (F)utility of Performance Analysis', in Artistic Practice as Research in Music: Theory, Criticism, Practice, ed. Mine Doğantan-Dack (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2015), 127-47 

'Playing with the Chopin Sources', in Jan Ekier: artysta stulecia w darze Chopinowi, ed. Irena Poniatowksa (Warsaw: Narodowy Instytut Fryderyka Chopina, 2013), 171-85

'In Respect of Performance: The View from Musicology', in Ereignis und Exegese: Musikalische Interpretation, Interpretation der Musik. Festschrift für Hermann Danuser zum 65. Geburtstag, ed. Camilla Bork, Tobias Robert Klein, Burkhard Meischein, Andreas Meyer and Tobias Plebuch (Schliengen: Edition Argus, 2011), 433-45 

John Rink, Neta Spiro and Nicolas Gold, 'Motive, Gesture and the Analysis of Performance', in New Perspectives on Music and Gesture, ed. Anthony Gritten and Elaine King (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2011), 267-92 

'Psychology of Music', in An Introduction to Music Studies, ed. J. P. E. Paul Harper-Scott and Jim Samson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 59-78 

Neta Spiro, Nicolas Gold and John Rink, 'Plus ça change: Analyzing Performances of Chopin's Mazurka Op. 24 No. 2', in Proceedings of 10th International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition, ed. Ken'ichi Miyazaki et al. (Sapporo: ICMPC10, 2008), 418-27 

Neta Spiro, Nicolas Gold and John Rink, 'In Search of Motive: Identification of Repeated Patterns in Performance and their Structural Context', in Proceedingof the Inaugural International Conference on Music Communication Science (ICoMCS), ed. Emery Schubert et al. (Sydney: ARC Research Network in Human Communication Science (HCSNet), 2007), 152-54 

Neta Spiro, Nicolas Gold and John Rink, 'Performance Motives: Analysis and Comparison of Performance Timing Repetitions using Pattern Matching and Formal Concept Analysis', in Proceedings of the International Symposium on Performance Science 2007, ed. Aaron Williamon and Daniela Coimbra (Utrecht: European Association of Conservatoires, 2007), 175-80 

'Chopin in Transition', in La note bleue: Mélanges offerts au Professeur Jean-Jacques Eigeldinger, ed. Jacqueline Waeber (Bern: Peter Lang, 2006), 45-71 

'Work in progress: l'oeuvre infini(e) de Chopin', in Interpréter Chopin, ed. Jean-Jacques Eigeldinger (Paris: Cité de la Musique, 2006), 82-90 

'Chopin and the Technique of Performance', in Chopin in Performance: History, Theory, Practice, ed. Artur Szklener (Warsaw: Narodowy Instytut Fryderyka Chopina, 2005), 225-38 

'Les Concertos de Chopin et la notation de l'exécution', in Frédéric Chopin, interprétations, ed. Jean-Jacques Eigeldinger (Geneva: Droz, 2005), 69-88 

'Analyzing Rhythmic Shape in Chopin's E major Etude', in Analytical Perspectives on the Music of Chopin, ed. Artur Szklener (Warsaw: Narodowy Instytut Fryderyka Chopina, 2004), 125-38 

'Murray Perahia: A Musical Dialogue', in Muzyka wobec tradycji: idee – dzieło – recepcja, ed. Szymon Paczkowski (Warsaw: Instytut Muzykologii Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego, 2004), 641-51 

'The State of Play in Performance Studies', in The Music Practitioner, ed. Jane Davidson (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004), 37-51 

'Chopin and Performance Studies', in Chopin and his Work in the Context of Culture, ed. Irena Poniatowska, 2 vols. (Cracow: Musica Iagellonica, 2003), Vol. 2, 11-26 

'Zum Verhältnis von Notation und Aufführung in Chopins Konzerten', in Chopin 1849/1999: Aspekte der Rezeptions- und Interpretationsgeschichte, ed. Andreas Ballstaedt (Schliengen: Edition Argus, 2003), 19-34 

'Chopin Copying Chopin', in Chopin's Work: His Inspirations and Creative Process in the Light of the Sources, ed. Artur Szklener (Warsaw: Narodowy Instytut Fryderyka Chopina, 2003), 67-81 

'Analysis and (or?) Performance', in Musical Performance: A Guide to Understanding, ed. John Rink (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 35-58. Portuguese translation: 'Análise e (ou?) performance', Cognição & artes musicais/Cognition & musical arts, 2/1 (2007), 25-43. See 'Books' above for details of Italian and Spanish translations.

'The Profession of Music', in The Cambridge History of Nineteenth-Century Music, ed. Jim Samson (Cambridge University Press, 2001), 55-86 

'The Legacy of Improvisation in Chopin', in Muzyka w kontekscie kultury, ed. Małgorzata Janicka-Słysz, Teresa Malecka and Krzysztof Szwajgier (Cracow: Akademia Muzyczne, 2001), 79-89 

'Rhythmic Process in Chopin's Prelude Op. 28 No. 5: "Intuitive Analysis" and Performance', in Analyse et création musicales, ed. Jean-Michel Bardez (Paris: Harmattan, 2001), 179-93 

'Translating Musical Meaning: The Nineteenth-Century Performer as Narrator', in Rethinking Music, ed. Nicholas Cook and Mark Everist (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 217-38 

'Opposition and Integration in the Piano Music', in The Cambridge Companion to Brahms, ed. Michael Musgrave (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 79-97 and 293-5 

'"Structural Momentum" and Closure in Chopin's Nocturne Op. 9, No. 2', in Schenker Studies 2, ed. Carl Schachter and Hedi Siegel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 109-26 

'Playing in Time: Rhythm, Metre and Tempo in Brahms's Fantasien Op. 116', in The Practice of Performance: Studies in Musical Interpretation, ed. John Rink (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 254-82. Portuguese translation: 'Manipulando o tempo: ritmo, métrica et andamento nas Fantasias Op. 116 de Brahms', Em Pauta, 20/34-35 (2012), 245-82. Italian translation: 'Suonare nel tempo: ritmo, metro e movimento nelle Fantasien op. 116 di J. Brahms', Diastema 1 (9) (1999), 7-36. French translation: 'Le jeu et le temps: rythme, mesure et tempo dans les Fantaisies op. 116 de Brahms', Ostinato rigore, 10 (1998), 17-54.

'Authentic Chopin: History, Analysis and Intuition in Performance', in Chopin Studies 2, ed. John Rink and Jim Samson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 214-44. Polish translation: 'Chopin autentczyny: historia, analiza i intuicja wykonawcza', trans. Wojciech Bońkowski and Sylwia Zabieglińska (Warsaw: Narodowy Instytut Fryderyka Chopina, 2015).

'Tonal Architecture in the Early Music', in The Cambridge Companion to Chopin, ed. Jim Samson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 78-97 and 305-8 

'The Rhetoric of Improvisation: Beethoven's Fantasy Op. 77', Secondo Convegno Europeo di Analisi Musicale, ed. Rossana Dalmonte and Mario Baroni (Trento: Università degli Studi di Trento, 1992), 303-17 

'Select Bibliography of Literature Related to Schenker by British Authors or in British Publications since 1980', in Schenker Studies, ed. Hedi Siegel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 190-2 

'The Barcarolle: Auskomponierung and Apotheosis', in Chopin Studies, ed. Jim Samson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 195-219 


Response to essays in the symposium 'Performance and Analysis Today: New Horizons', Music Theory Online, 22/2 (2016), mto.16.22.2/mto.16.22.2.rink.html

'The Interpretive Shaping of Music Performance Research', Empirical Musicology Review, 8 (2013), 120-3

Mirjam James, Karen Wise and John Rink, 'Exploring Creativity in Musical Performance through Lesson Observation with Video-Recall Interviews', Scientia Paedagogica Experimentalis, 47/2 ([2012] 2010), 219-50

Neta Spiro, Nicolas Gold and John Rink, 'The Form of Performance: Analyzing Pattern Distribution in Select Recordings of Chopin's Mazurka Op. 24 No. 2', Musicae Scientiae, 14/2 (2010), 23-55 

'Chopin tot leven wekken', Pianowereld, 23 (June/July 2007), 20-2 

'Liszt and the Boissiers: Notes on a Musical Education', The Liszt Society Journal (2006), 5-36 

'The Final Score?', BBC Music Magazine (2004), 30-3 

'In Respect of Performance: The View from Musicology', Psychology of Music, 31/3 (2003), 303-23 

'Perahia's Musical Dialogue', The Musical Times, 142 (2001), 9-15 

'The Line of Argument in Chopin's E minor Prelude', Early Music, 29 (2001), 434-44 

'Chopin's Improvisatory Music: Style, Structure, Aesthetic', Ostinato rigore, 15 (2000), 7-17 

'Sonata (19th century, after Beethoven)', 'Improvisation (19th century)' and 'Rhapsody', in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell (London: Macmillan, 2000) 

Report on Study Session 21, 'Interpreting Performance: Chopin-Playing in Perspective', in Musicology and Sister Disciplines: Past, Present, Future. Proceedings of the 16th International Congress of the International Musicological Society, London, 1997, ed. David Greer (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 512-15 

'Conference Report: Joint Meetings of the American Musicological Society, Center for Black Music Research and the Society for Music Theory', Music Analysis, 15/1 (1996), 128-36 

'"Structural Momentum" and Closure in Chopin's Op. 9, No. 2', Chopin Studies, 5 (1995), 82-104 

'Le processus narratif dans l'interprétation et l'analyse', Musurgia, 2/2 (1995), 28-32 

'Chopin's Ballades and the Dialectic: Analysis in Historical Perspective', Music Analysis, 13/1 (1994), 99-115. French translation: 'Un siècle et demi d'analyse des Ballades de Chopin: les étapes d'un cheminement dialectique', Analyse Musicale, 27 (1992), 65-75. Polish translation: 'Ballady Chopina i dialektyka metod analitycznych: analiza z perspektywy historycznej', Rocznik Chopinowski, 21 (1995), 45-66.

'Schenker and Improvisation', Journal of Music Theory, 37/1 (1993), 1-54 

'Review Article' on Wallace Berry, Musical Structure and Performance, in Music Analysis, 9/3 (1990), 319-39 

'Chopin and Schenker: Improvisation and Musical Structure', Chopin Studies, 3 (1990), 219-31. Polish translation: 'Chopin i Schenker: Improwizacja a Struktura', Rocznik Chopinowski, 19 (1990), 163-76 

'Conference Report: Music and Rhetoric: Style and Communication in Western and Non-Western Musics (Royal Musical Association, 7-9 April 1989)', Music Analysis, 8/3 (1989), 359-64 


Review of Anthony Gritten and Elaine King, eds., Music and Gesture, in The British Journal of Aesthetics, 47/2 (2007), 224-6 

Review of George Barth, The Pianist as Orator, in Journal of the American Musicological Society, 49/1 (1996), 155-61 

Review of Nicolas Meeùs, Heinrich Schenker: Une Introduction, in Music Analysis, 15/2 (1996), 367-72 

Review of Jonathan Dunsby, Performing Music: Shared Concerns, in Music & Letters, 77/2 (1996), 253-7 

Review of Jean-Jacques Eigeldinger, Frédéric Chopin: Esquisses pour une Méthode de Piano, in Music & Letters, 75/2 (1994), 472-6 

Review of Mieczysław Tomaszewski, ed., Chopin: A Diary in Images, in Music & Letters, 74/1 (1993), 99-102 

Review of George Bozarth, ed., Brahms Studies, in Music & Letters, 73/2 (1992), 301-7 

Review of Leonard B. Meyer, Style and Music: Theory, History, and Ideology, in Music & Letters, 72/2 (1991), 296-300 

Review of Heinrich Schenker, J. S. Bach's Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue: Critical Edition with Commentary, trans. Hedi Siegel, in Music Analysis, 7/2 (1988), 225-33 

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