Born in Detroit, Robert Adelson is a musicologist and organologist, and Professor of Music History and Organology at the Conservatoire de Nice. He is a specialist on the history of the harp and the piano, and has also published widely on the clarinet, opera, and the sociology of music. He is the author of The History of the Erard Piano and Harp in Letters and Documents, 1785–1959 (2 vols., Cambridge University Press, 2015), Women Writing Opera: Creativity and Controversy in the Age of the French Revolution (University of California Press, 2001; Écrire l’opéra au féminin : Compositrices et librettistes sous la Révolution française (Lyon: Symétrie, 2017), and a critical edition of the opera Le Mariage d’Antonio (1786) by Lucile Grétry (AR Editions, 2008). He has also published numerous articles in such journals as the Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society, the Galpin Society Journal, Mozart-Jahrbuch, Music and Letters, Performance Practice Review, Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century, Revue d’Histoire du Théâtre, Nineteenth-Century French Studies, the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians and the New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments.
Between 2005 and 2016, he was Curator of France’s second largest collection of historical musical instruments, housed in the Musée du Palais Lascaris in Nice. He is also the Curator of the first permanent exhibition of the Camac Collection of historical harps at the Château d’Ancenis (Loire-Atlantique). He is a member of the Board of Governors of the American Musical Instrument Society, and an Expert associé for the Chambre Nationale des Experts Spécialisés en objets d’art et de collection (C.N.E.S.).
Mr Adelson has taught at several leading American universities: Towson University, Georgetown University, the University of Maryland-College Park, Boston Conservatory, the University of Utah, and Utah State University. He gives frequent lectures on organology and has been invited to speak on the harp in eighteenth-century Paris on the “Lundis à l’Arsenal” series at the Bibliothèque nationale de France. He has also served on the jury of the Sigismund Thalberg International Piano Competition in Naples.
Robert Adelson is also a professional clarinettist, performing on both modern and period instruments in the United States and Europe. He has performed and recorded on early clarinets with Orchestre des Champs-Elysées, Tafelmusik, the Handel and Haydn Society Orchestra, Boston Baroque, Four Nations, the American Classical Orchestra, the Amor Artis Orchestra, REBEL Baroque Orchestra, Washington Bach Consort, Opera Lafayette, the Los Angeles Baroque Orchestra, and at the Boston and Connecticut Early Music Festivals. As a modern clarinetist, Adelson has performed with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Nice, the Washington National Opera, the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Philharmonic, the Denver Chamber Orchestra and the Utah Symphony. He has appeared as a soloist with numerous orchestras including the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Little Orchestra Society at Lincoln Center, and the Orchestre Rencontres Musicales Internationales in Bordeaux.