Aimee Beckmann-Collier jokes that she “had a plan for every minute of her life since junior high.” By age seven she knew she would be a teacher, and by age thirteen she was sure her focus would be high-school choirs.
But even if it’s apocryphal, what makes it interesting is not who said it but which Bach he had in mind: not Johann Sebastian, but his second son, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. He can seem a footnote with too many initials, but Oxford Bibliography calls him “arguably the most imaginative German composer of the mid-18th century." It adds that “in the 18th century he was more widely recognized as a composer than was his father.” You get a sense of why in this excerpt from his Magnificat, as performed last month by the Chamber Singers of Iowa City conducted by David Puderbaugh at the University of Iowa's Voxman Music Building: Why, then, did CPE get demoted to footnotes? Nobody worked more tirelessly than CPE to burnish his late father’s biography (beginning with the obituary) and to preserve and circulate his music. CPE could make easy work of such challenges because, when he wanted, he could compose in his father’s style with a fluency that must have made the old man proud. You’d think CPE tossed off Bachian choral masterpieces all the time, but after the Magnificat he didn't write another for years.
Published in conjunction with an exhibit at the Bodleian Library, the book was the culmination of a multi-year Oxford-Princeton collaborative grant directed by Heller and Burden.
Heller has earned numerous fellowships and prizes from such organizations as the ACLS, the Mellon Foundation, and the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.
She has been a driving force in the baroque operas at Princeton, and served as dramaturg for Princeton University Opera Theater’s 2014 production Monteverdi’s for Bärenreiter.
Known for her engaging lecture style, Heller has spoken for such organizations as Mostly Mozart at Lincoln Center, Boston Early Music Festival, Utrecht Early Music Festival, Portland Art Museum (Oregon), and the Drottningholm Palace Theater in Stockholm.