Thomas Forrest Kelly
Thomas Forrest Kelly was born in Greensboro, NC in 1943. He attended Groton School and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (A. B. 1964). Two years in France on a Fubright grant allowed him to study organ with Jean Langlais, and to take degrees at the Schola Cantorum in Paris (diplôme de virtuosité 1966) and the Royal Academy of Music (LRAM 1964). His graduate study was at Harvard (A. M. 1970, PhD 1973).
Kelly was Professor of Music at Harvard from 1994 to 2018. Before coming to Harvard he taught at Oberlin; at the Five Colleges in Massachusetts; and at Wellesley. He has also taught at the École Pratique des Hautes Études, The Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music in Rome, the Conservatorio of Naples, and the Pontifical Ambrosian Institute in Milan.
He has served as the director of the Wellesley College Collegium Musicum, the Five College Early Music Program, the Oberlin Historical Performance Program, as Music Director of the Cambridge Society for Early Music, and President and long-time board member of Early Music America. He writes a regular column for Early Music America magazine.
Kelly has focused principally on medieval music, and on the performance of music of the past. Most recently he is the author of The Role of the Scroll (W. W. Norton, 2019). He is co-editor, with Mark Everist, of the Cambridge History of Medieval Music. Among other books, he is the author of Capturing Music (2015); Early Music: A Very Short Introduction (2011, translated into German and Hungarian); First Nights (2000, translated into Korean and Chinese); First Nights at the Opera (2004); The Exultet in Southern Italy (1996). His The Beneventan Chant (awarded the 1989 Otto Kinkeldey Award) has recently appeared in a revised Italian translation.
Kelly has held Fulbright, NEH, ACLS, and Rome Prize fellowships. He is an honorary citizen of the city of Benevento (Italy). He is a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres of the French Republic and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, of the American Academy in Rome, and of the Medieval Academy of America. He received an honorary doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2017.