William Peterson received the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, and his B.A. and B.M. degrees from Oberlin College and Conservatory
As a performer, he has played concerts in many parts of the United States. His programs have included “French Organ Music from the Time of World War I,” “The Music of Johann Sebastian Bach” and a concert that opened with the music by 16th and 17th Dutch and German composers with the second half featuring music by Erben, Krenek, and Kohn. In October of 2002 he gave the Inaugural Concert on the Bridges Hall of Music Hill Memorial Organ built by C.B. Fisk, of Gloucester, MA (Fisk, Op. 117) at Pomona College.
Peterson’s scholarly work has focused extensively on French organ music of the 19th and early 20th centuries. He is co-editor with Lawrence Archbold (Carleton College) of French Organ Music from the Revolution to Franck and Widor (University of Rochester Press, 1995), and is author of the article “Lemmens, His Ecole d’orgue, and Nineteenth-Century Organ Methods” in that book. He wrote “Organ Music in the Shadow of the Great War: A Preliminary Investigation” (La Flûte harmonique, 2007), and his article, “Storm Fantasies for the Nineteenth-Century Organ in France,” appeared in Keyboard Perspectives, volume II (2009), with a translation appearing in the Belgian periodical, Orgelkunst, in 2010. His article, “Saint-Saëns’s Improvisations on the Organ (1862)” appeared in Camille Saint-Saëns and His World, edited by Jann Pasler (2012). At the 2011 Regional AGO Convention he presented a paper, “Documenting Organ Registration Practice in Nineteenth-Century France: The 1880s and 1890s.” Recently his studies have also focused on Czech music with James Peterson (Valdosta State University) presenting a paper “Musical Signposts at Political Crossroads in the Czech Lands (1848 to 1918)” at the 2009 National Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies and “Formation of Czechoslovakia in 1918: A Revolution ‘from above and from below’” at the 2013 National Meeting of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies. Peterson’s research projects have been supported by grants from the Fulbright and Mellon Foundations, and the Pomona College Research Committee.
He has been heard on NPR’s “Pipedreams” in a program that included music of Tournemire, Duruflé, and Widor, which was recorded in concerts from Bridges Hall in 2002 and 2003.
He teaches organ and courses in music history, including “History of Western Music,” “J.S. Bach,” and “Music and National Identity.”