Saraswathi Shukla is a doctoral student at UC Berkeley writing her dissertation, “The Harpsichord at the Intersection of Art and Science during the Ancien Régime”, under the direction of Nicholas Mathew and Philippe Canguilhem (Université de Toulouse – Jean Jaurès). Her dissertation explores the intersections of music, the decorative arts, and science at the turn of the eighteenth century in France through a material history of the harpsichord. She has been the recipient of numerous research grants, including the Chateaubriand, Lurcy and DAAD Fellowships. Saraswathi is an avid harpsichordist and continues to study and teach the instrument while conducting research on keyboard music of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.


  • PhD Music History and Literature, UC Berkeley, in progress

  • MA Musicology, with Designated Emphasis in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies, UC Berkeley, 2015

  • AB History, magna cum laude, Princeton University, 2012. Senior thesis: “Consuming Opera: Transcriptions for Harpsichord in the Ancien Régime, 1760-1774.”

  • Chateaubriand Fellowship, Paris, France, Spring 2017

  • Lurcy Fellowship, Paris, France, 2016-2017

  • DAAD Graduate Study Scholarship, Bach-Archiv, Leipzig, Germany, 2012-2013

  • André Maman Senior Thesis Prize, Princeton University, 2012

  • Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship, Princeton University, 2010-2012

  • Lawrence Stone and Shelby Cullom Davis Prize, Princeton University, 2011


  • “Operatic Virtuosity at the Keyboard: Claude Balbastre and Rameau’s Legacy,” Keyboard Perspectives X (2017): 45-64.

  • Commercializing Opera through Paris’ First Musical Periodical, guest contribution to JHIBlog (Journal of the History of Ideas) (2015)

  • Préluder,” J-J. Rousseau, translation for the Collaborative Translation Project (2014)

  • Review: Johann David Heinichen’s Gründliche Anweisung (1711), tr. Benedikt Brilmayer, Casey Mongoven (Hillsdale: Pendragon Press, 2012), Early Music America, Winter (2013): 48-49.

Blog Posts

    Upcoming Talks and Conferences

    “A History of Harpsichord Touch in France: Performance Practice on the Periphery,” lecture-recital with Lillian Gordis, harpsichord. Researching Performance, Performing Researching: Collaborations and Confrontations, Conservatorium van Amsterdam, Amsterdam, NL (2017)

    Session Organizer, “Emotional Pedagogy in the 21st Century”, with Lillian Gordis, Skip Sempé, and Saraswathi Shukla. Researching Performance, Performing Research: Collaborations and Confrontations, Conservatorium van Amsterdam, Amsterdam, NL (2017)

    “Embodied Devotion and the Rhetoric of Variation in John Dowland’s Lachrimae (1604) and Dieterich Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu nostri (c.1683),” Annual Renaissance and Early Modern Studies Graduate Student Conference, UC Berkeley, CA (2016)

    “Seeing Rubens, Hearing Ruckers: The Sonic Palette of the Franco-Flemish Harpsichord,” American Musicological Society, Milwaukee, WI (2014)

    “Lost in Translation: The German Lullisten and the ‘French’ Harpsichord Suite,” Society for Seventeenth-Century Music, Trinity University, San Antonio, TX (2014)

    “Operatic Virtuosity at the Keyboard: Claude Balbastre and Rameau’s Legacy,” Rameau, entre art et science, Paris, France (IRPMF, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Fondation Royaumont, Opéra Comique) (2014)

    “The Journal de Clavecin and the Commercialization of Parisian Operatic Taste 1762-1772,” American Society for 18th-Century Studies, Cleveland, OH (Bibliographic Society of America, Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing), British Society for 18th-Century Studies, Oxford University, Oxford, UK (2013)

    “Mesmerizing Music: Sound, Imagination, and Communication in the Mesmeric Séance,” Annual Graduate Symposium, Rice University, TX (2008)

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