MA in Historical Performance Practice (HPP)

This program in early music (up to 1850) combines advanced study in performance, music history, and performance practices. Students should expect to spend two years in full-time study in Cleveland.

Admission Information

Admission to the program is granted to those who demonstrate a high level of early music performance skill and good scholarly potential. An audition is required. Please see the Graduate Application Procedures for more information. Students in this program who demonstrate exceptional accomplishment may petition to enter the DMA in Historical Performance Practice before the completion of the MA degree. On this possibility, see the Degree Overlap section below.

Graduate Application Procedures

Degree Overview  

All programs are formulated to suit the needs of the individual student (based in part on a diagnostic examination taken upon entering the program) and require the consent of the Head of HPP. A minimum of 21 hours of course work is required, together with 12 hours of applied music, proficiency in one relevant foreign language, and a lecture-recital (3 hours).

Coursework and Applied Music

Coursework must include Bibliography and Research (MUHI 610), Introduction to Historical Performance Practice (MUHI 441), Medieval/Renaissance Notation (MUHI 443) or Pre-Tonal Theory and Analysis (MUTH 416), and at least two Seminars in Historical Performance Practice (MUHI 442). Students are also expected to attend HPP Studio Class (MUHI 698). Applied music (including individual lessons (2 credit hours), ensembles (0 credit hours) and MUAP 500 (1 credit hour to reflect participation in multiple ensembles) will be taken every semester that the student is on campus. Applied faculty will be chosen in consultation with the student.

Ensemble Participation and Outside Engagements

All students in this program will participate in two or more of the Case Western Reserve University early music ensembles during each semester in which they are on campus. Students are encouraged to take outside engagements that will contribute to their professional development, but any engagements that might have a significant impact on class attendance, TA/RA duties, or ensemble participation must be cleared by the HPP committee; to request an absence for an outside engagement, students should submit an HPP Absence Request form (available on the department website) to the Head of HPP as soon as possible, and at the latest by the end of the previous semester.


A jury is required in the Spring of the 1st year (MUAP 600, 0 credit hours). The program should be decided in consultation with the student's applied teacher and should consist of approximately 15 minutes of music. The jury will consist of the student's applied teacher together with at least two other HPP faculty. If the performance is unsatisfactory, the student will have the opportunity to repeat the jury the following semester. If the second attempt is also unsatisfactory, the student will not be allowed to continue in the degree program.

Foreign Languages  

Students must demonstrate the ability to read one language approved by the HPP committee as relevant to the student's research. (These are generally drawn from German, French, Italian, and Latin, though exceptions can be made.) The minimum required level of reading ability is usually attained by the equivalent of two years of college-level study of the language plus further reading in musical and musicological writings in the language. (For more details see the Graduate Handbook.)

Lecture-Recital and Document 

One juried lecture-recital is required, taken in the Spring of the 2nd year (MUAP 651, 3 credit hours). The lecture-recital consists of a 45-minute performance generally preceded by a 30-45 minute research-based lecture dealing with the musical, historical and performance practice issues relevant to the chosen repertoire. (The entire lecture recital should not exceed 90 minutes). The lecture recital-performance is given in the Spring of the 2nd year, but students may register for the lecture preparation in either the Fall or Spring semester. In either case, in the spring of the first year of study, the student should approach a member of the faculty to act as their advisor and should then work with that advisor on a proposal to be submitted to the HPP committee before April 1 (for lecture recital in the following fall) or November 1 (for lecture recital in the following spring). (The proposal should be accompanied by the Lecture-Recital Proposal form, available on the department website.) If the proposal is approved, the HPP committee will decide (in consultation with both student and the advisor) which other faculty members are to act as jurors (at least two Musicology/HPP faculty, together with the appropriate applied faculty if possible). After securing a date acceptable to the jury and available on the Department calendar, the student will then work with the advisor to prepare a lecture draft, which will be distributed to the entire jury no less than one month before the performance. The final version of the lecture will incorporate changes mandated by the jury. In addition, the advisor, along with the applied teacher, will monitor the preparation of the recital portion, a substantial portion of which will be previewed for the jury approximately one month before the public presentation. Inadequate preparation or failure to comply with the hearing schedule will result in cancellation or postponement of the lecture-recital. The successful completion of the lecture-recital will be certified by a majority of the jury.

An accompanying document (15-25 pages) will be finalized after the lecture-recital performance with the further advice and ultimate approval of the advisor. The document, program, and audio/video tape (if there is one) should be submitted to the Head of HPP by the end of the semester. Students are expected to publicize the lecture-recital by all appropriate means, in addition to its listing on the Department concert calendar.

Degree Overlap

Students in the CWRU MA in HPP program who wish to continue on to the DMA may audition after three semesters of study. If successful, coursework already completed will count towards the DMA requirements. A student who graduates with an MA in HPP, but who subsequently wishes to return to the program, may, if readmitted, continue on to the DMA by completing the remaining DMA requirements (typically the final two years of the degree).