Jonathan E. Bagg

Jonathan E. Bagg

Professor of the Practice in the Department of Music


External Address: 
083 Mary Duke Biddle, Durham, NC 27708
Internal Office Address: 
Box 90665, Durham, NC 27708-0665
(919) 660-3331

Jonathan Bagg is Professor of the Practice at Duke University and violist of the Ciompi String Quartet. His career with the Ciompi includes hundreds of concerts across the U.S. and around the world, as well as many recordings. Currently co-Artistic Director of Electric Earth Concerts in New Hampshire, Bagg teaches viola and chamber music at Duke and is Chair of the Music Department.

Prior to founding Electric Earth Concerts in 2013, Bagg directed the Monadnock Music festival for six years. Bagg has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the NH State Council on the Arts, and many other foundations, in support of his work as an Artistic Director. In this role he has initiated many creative collaborations between authors, poets, and choreographers resulting in dozens of newly commissioned works, including the recent “A Forest Unfolding” which involved 4 writers, 4 composers, and featuring novelist Richard Powers as narrator.

He is currently principal viola of CityMusic Cleveland Chamber Orchestra, with whom he has performed as soloist. Recitals have brought Bagg to many places the East Coast, including the Phillips Collection in Washington, Boston’s Jordan Hall, New Hampshire's Currier Gallery. Festival appearances include the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, the Eastern Music Festival, the Portland Chamber Music Festival, the Sebago-Long Lake festival, and the Highlands, NC, Mohawk Trail, and Castle Hill festivals.

Bagg’s recent CD on the Albany label, tiled “Elation,” brings together several works he commissioned, including a sonata and trio by Duke colleague Stephen Jaffe and a trio by Scott Lindroth. His other solo CDs (on Centaur) contain music for viola and piano by Robert and Clara Schumann, and by Viennese composer Robert Fuchs (1847-1927). Contemporary solo works by Robert Ward, Arthur Levering, Malcolm Peyton, and Donald Wheelock are on Bridge, Albany, Centaur and Gasparo Records. Collaborations include many notable musicians, including pianists Menahem Pressler and Bella Davidovich, saxophonist Branford Marsalis, jazz vocalist Nnenna Freelon, and the Tokyo and Borromeo Quartets, to name only a few.

Before coming to Duke he performed with many of New Enlgand’s leading musical organizations, appearing often with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, as associate principal of the Handel and Haydn Society, as principal viola in the New Hampshire Symphony and assistant principal in the New Haven Symphony. He graduated with honors from both Yale University (BA) and the New England Conservatory (MM), where he studied with Steven Ansell and Walter Trampler.


  • M.Mus., New England Conservatory of Music 1984
  • B.A., Yale University 1982

Elation: works of Stephen Jaffe, Scott Lindroth, and Miriam Gideon. Musician. (2014)


Scott Lindroth, composer
Laura Gilbert, alto flute; Jonathan Bagg, viola; Daniel Lippel, guitar

Stephen Jaffe, composer
Four Pieces Quasi Sonata
Jonathan Bagg, viola; Donald Berman, piano

Miriam Gideon, composer
Creature to Creature
Elizabeth Shammash, mezzo-soprano; Laura Gilbert, flute; Stacey Shames, harp

Stephen Jaffe, composer
Laura Gilbert, flute; Jonathan Bagg, viola; Stacey Shames, harp



Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst (1812-65) was one of the leading musicians of his day, a friend of Berlioz, Chopin, Liszt and Mendelssohn, and for Joseph Joachim 'the greatest violinist I ever heard'. But the popular encore pieces by which Ernst is remembered today represent only a fraction of his output. This fourth CD — in a series of seven presenting all his compositions for the first time — contains some of his most important compositions: an early Concertino with a melancholy slow movement and charming waltz finale; the fiendishly difficult Concerto that had a deep influence not only on Liszt's Piano Sonata but also the Brahms and Sibelius violin concertos; and the late String Quartet, with echoes of Beethoven and Mendelssohn and an inwardness, charm and energy all of its own.

Sherban Lupu
Ciompi String Quartet
Sinfonia da Camera
Ian Hobson

Best Served Cold: Music of David Lipten; Ictus for String Quartet. Musician. (2010)


David Lipten, Ictus for String Quartet (2010). Ciompi Quartet recording.



"Tesserae" by Arthur Levering, in Americans in Rome: Music by Felows of the American Academy in Rome, Donald Berman, Artistic Director (2008), Bridge Records (Recording of "Tesserae" for viola and piano by Arthur Levering.)

String Quartets of Paul Schoenfield. Musician. (2008)


Ciompi Quartet, String Quartets of Paul Schoenfield (Winter, 2008). Naxos has accepted for production on series of Jewish American music. Recorded and edited in 2005

Nathaniel Stookey: Music for Strings. Musician. (2005)


Ciompi Quartet, Nathaniel Stookey: Music for Strings (1992-2002) (2005), Albany (Troy 717) (String Quartet No. 1 (1998) String Quartet No. 2 (2002) "Musee Mecanique".)

Melancholie. Musician. (2003)


The Ciompi Quartet, Melancholie (2003), Albany (Troy 603) (Works for voice and string quartet by Hindemith, Vaughan Williams, Pärt, Kim; with Soprano Susan Narucki and Tenor Steven Tharp.)

Music of Robert and Clara Schumann. Musician. (2002)


J.E. Bagg, Music of Robert and Clara Schumann (2002), Centaur (CRC 2581) (Scenes from Fairyland, Op. 113, Fantasy Pieces, Op. 73, Three Romances, Op. 22(Clara Schumann), Adagio and Allegro, Opus 70, Fairy Tales for Clarinet, Viola and Piano.)

Ciompi Quartet Live at St. Stephens. Musician. (2001)


The Ciompi Quartet, Ciompi Quartet Live at St. Stephens (2001) (Haydn, Prokofiev, Ravel quartets (promotional).)