William J. Peterson

Emeritus Professor of Music and College Organist
  • Expertise


    As an organist, William Peterson has played concerts throughout 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. 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.

    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 (1995).

    Areas of Expertise


    • Nationalism and Music
    • Organ
    • History of Western Music
    • History of French Music
  • Work


    French Organ Music from the Revolution to Franck and Widor (L. Archbold and W.J. Peterson, eds., University of Rochester Press, 1995; second printing, 1997)

    "Storm Fantasies for the Nineteenth-Century Organ in France," in Keyboard Perspectives, Volume II (A. Richards, ed., 2009, pp. 1-29)

    “Organ Music in the Shadow of the Great War: A Preliminary Investigation,” La Flûte Harmonique 90, pp. 28-36, 2007

    "Constructs of Memory, 1914-1918," presented at national meeting of the American Musicological Society, 1997

    Selected Recordings

    "Suite No. 30, Dominica V Post Pentecosten" (Digital on Location, 1994)

    Selected Performances

    Concert of organ works by German, Dutch, and Italian composers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries on "The Littlefield Organ Series" at the University of Washington campus, February 2010. The program, which included works by Sweelinck, Scheidt, Scheidemann, Frescobaldi, Buxtehude, and J.S. Bach, was designed especially for the Baroque-style organ built by Paul Fritts in 1990

    Works by J. S. Bach on the Beckerath organ in Lyman Hall and works by Ibert, Gigout, Guilmant, Cage and Kohn on the Fisk organ in Bridges Hall for “Presidents’ Day in Claremont: Celebrating Claremont Organists, Organs, and Composers,” an event sponsored by the Los Angeles chapter of the American Guild of Organists in cooperation with Pomona College and local churches, 2008

    "Storm Pieces for the Nineteenth-Century Organ in France," presented at the Eleventh Annual Redlands Organ Festival, January 1998

    "Nineteenth-Century Organ Methods," presented at the Eleventh Annual Redlands Organ Festival, January 1998

  • Education


    University of California, Berkeley

    Master of Arts
    University of California, Berkeley

    Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Arts
    Oberlin College

    Recent Courses Taught

    • Critical Inquiry Seminar
    • History of Western Music
    • Individual Instruction, Level I
    • Individual Instruction, Level II
    • Music/Culture in Paris 1870-1930
    • Senior Seminar in Music
    • Western Music: Historical Introduction
  • Awards & Honors

    Awards & Honors

    Pomona College, Research Grant, 1994 and 1995

    Pomona College, Wig Distinguished Professorship Award for Excellence in Teaching, 1986 and 1989

    Fulbright Grant for Research in Belgium, 1985