Teacher and performer Joel Sachs joined the Juilliard faculty in 1970 as the school’s lecturer in music history. He teaches new-music performance, chamber music, and music history, is a member of the doctoral faculty, directs and conducts the New Juilliard Ensemble, and produces the annual Focus! Festival. As a pianist and conductor and through his work as co-director of the Continuum Ensemble, he has performed throughout North and South America, Europe, and in Asia. Sachs also appears on 15 albums of 20th- and 21st-century music, primarily on the Naxos label. His publications include a book, studies, and editions of the early 19th-century composer J.N. Hummel, and a biography of Henry Cowell (Oxford University Press, 2012); he also was studio guest and recording artist for BBC Radio’s “Composer of the Week” series about Cowell. Sachs has also written about music and musical life in the Soviet Union.
He is a former faculty member of Columbia University, Johns Hopkins, Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, New York University, the Dartington International Summer School (U.K.). He has held workshops and residencies around the world.
Sachs received his B.A. in music at Harvard College and his M.A. and Ph.D. in musicology at Columbia University. He studied piano with Ray Lev, Rosina Lhévinne, Miklos Schwalb, and Ilona Kabos. He studied conducting with Jorge Mester and Gene Forrell. He was awarded honorary membership in Phi Beta Kappa by Harvard in 2011; Columbia University’s Alice M. Ditson award to a conductor for service to American music; and the national arts medal of Poland for his service for Polish music. He has served on the boards of the Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund for Music and the Fromm Foundation at Harvard, and the peer review panels of the New York State Council on the Arts. He is a member of the board of the Charles Ives Society. He has written about legal issues pertaining to music and proudly served as an expert witness in the “Happy Birthday” lawsuit.