Joseph Payne

Joseph Payne

Harpsichord • Clavichord • Organ

• 1937 2008


English harpsichordist, organist, and clavicembalist Joseph Payne is a scholarly, intelligent, and gifted artist who has amassed an impressively voluminous output of recordings on period keyboard instruments. While many players of pre-piano keyboards are happy to limit themselves to exploring a single composer or two's work in depth, Payne has recorded entire manuscript collections and has delved very deeply into the available repertoire that predates the Romantic era. In 1985 Payne enjoyed the privilege of being the first organist to record the then newly discovered Neumeister Chorale Preludes attributed to Johann Sebastian Bach. Since then Payne has recorded complete editions of the keyboard works of Johann Pachelbel, many more collections of Bach, and substantive collections such as the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, the Andreas Bach Manuscript, the Dublin Virginal Manuscript, and the Buxheimer Orgelbuch. He has recorded the works of composers both famous and obscure, such as Couperin le Grand, Dulphy, Sebastiàn de Albero, Muffat, John Bull, William Byrd, and many others. Payne has recorded for Bis, Naxos, Centaur, Harmonia Mundi, Discover, Vox, Haenssler Classics, and more.

Payne was born to English missionaries near the border between Mongolia and mainland China. He studied primarily in Switzerland and the U.K. and among his teachers were Wanda Landowska and Fernando Valenti. Payne re-settled in the Boston area in 1965, and for the next two decades concentrated on teaching and scholarship, much of it based at Yale University. The scholarship part of it continues, but since the breakthrough of the "Neumeister" recording, Payne maintains a busy annual concert schedule of about 60 dates a year, appearing in concert venues worldwide. Payne is also a frequent contributor to scholarly journals dealing with musicology and the disposition of historical keyboard instruments.