Keys to Excellence presents Carol lei Breckenridge in a Clavichord Recital

Carol lei Breckenridge, Professor Emerita of Central College, will present the next concert of the 2019–2020 season for the Drake University Keys to Excellence Piano Series on Monday, Oct. 28, at 7:30 p.m. in Sheslow Auditorium. Admission is free. The performance will feature the following works by Carl Phillip Emanuel Bach and Franz Josef Haydn:

“Les Folies d’Espagne” with 23 Variations, Wq 118/9, Bach                                                     

“Württemberg” Sonata Wq 49/4 (1744), Bach

Andante with Variations in F Minor, Haydn

Sonata in C Major, H. XVI/48 (1789), Haydn

Free Fantasy in F# Minor, Wq 67 (1787), Bach

Fantasy in C Major, H. XVII/4 (1789), Haydn

All works will be performed on a five-octave unfretted clavichord by Paul Irvin, after the Leipzig 1765 Christian Gottfried Friederici.

Carol lei Breckenridge specializes in eighteenth-century music on clavichord, harpsichord, and fortepiano.  Degrees in piano performance have been augmented with additional studies in clavichord with Joan Benson, fortepiano with Malcolm Bilson (including a 1997-98 Fellowship at Cornell University), and harpsichord with Edward Parmentier.  Professor Emerita of Music at Central College in Iowa, where she held the Farver Professor Chair, Carol lei is now living in the Ann Arbor, Michigan area, with her husband, Michael Herrick, and cat, Kai. 

Clavichord performances include: a C.P.E. Bach Symposium at Cornell University; the International Clavichord Symposium in Magnano, Italy; an inaugural recital of a Swedish clavichord at the National Music Museum in Vermillion, South Dakota; a program for the Dutch Clavichord Society; and programs for the Historical Keyboard Society of North America and the Western Early Keyboard Association, as well as fringe concerts at the Boston Early Music Festival. 

Carol lei owns several early keyboard instruments, several of which (Blanchet/Taskin and Neapolitan harpsichords, Cristofori and Dulcken fortepianos, and a fretted Hubert clavichord) she has recently recorded for a book project by Paul Irvin.  Using historical practices and materials – such as stringing in historic, lighter schedules and Birkett “P-wire” with historical physical properties, installing softer bridge and nut pins, as well as other voicing techniques — has for each instrument resulted in a fuller, more ringing tone with a long sustain, providing new insights into music of earlier eras, in many cases defying conventional assumptions.  These recordings may be heard free of charge on under her name. 

Carol lei has also recently released a clavichord CD – “The Bach Family and The Clavichord” — on her 5-octave unfretted clavichord built in 1995 by Paul Irvin, modeled after a 1765 Friederici clavichord in Leipzig.  This recording is available for download through Arabesque Records.  Compositions on the recording include works by J.S. Bach, C.P.E. Bach, and J.C. Bach.  In the expected future are a CD of works by Haydn, played on her Friederici clavichord, now strung with newly-available Birkett historical brass wire.

Contact email:

Keys to Excellence Piano Series is supported by Yamaha, West Music, Civic Music Association, and Drake University Jordan Concerts. For more information, contact Nicholas Roth at 515-321-5947 or


SEPTEMBER 30: Robert Weirich– University of Missouri Kansas City (Emeritus)

OCTOBER 28: Carol lei Breckenridge – Central College (Emerita)

DECEMBER 2: Nicholas Roth – Drake University

FEBRUARY 10: Mattia Ometto – Tomadini Conservatory (Italy)

APRIL 6: Wei-Yi Yang – Yale University

APRIL 20: Nadia Weintraub– Israel

All performances begin at 7:30 p.m. in Sheslow Auditorium and are free and open to the public.