American violinist Matthew Millkey is a doctoral student at the Royal College of Music with a special interest in historical performance and the Baroque period. Under the supervision of Dr. Wiebke Thormahlen and Professor Ashley Solomon, Matthew’s research focuses on the life and works of Dresden-based virtuoso violinist and composer J.P. von Westhoff (1656-1705). Despite being a violinist of international renown and the first to publish multi-movement works for unaccompanied violin, Westhoff languishes in obscurity today. Through a careful analysis of violin treatises, iconography, musical activity at the Dresden court, historical violin building, and Westhoff’s music, Matthew hopes to shed new light on the way in which this great virtuoso may have played. In doing so, Matthew will address broader questions, such as the ways in which violin technique evolved to meet the demands of the music, and the extent to which the physical limitations of certain historical techniques, such as holding the violin on the chest, led violinist-composers to discover new musical ideas that would not have otherwise occurred to them.
Matthew studied violin and Baroque violin at Oberlin Conservatory (BM, 2018) and Indiana University Jacobs School of Music (MM, 2020). He has played professionally in various US orchestras and Baroque ensembles, appeared in several major music festivals, including the Boston Early Music Festival and the Oregon Bach Festival, and taught violin and Baroque violin at Oberlin conservatory. As a Baroque violinist, Matthew specializes in early violin technique, and is a staunch advocate for the on-the-chest violin hold and the thumb-under bow hold.
Faculties / departments: Research