A music director, medievalist in musicology and recorder player, Pedro Memelsdorff was born in Argentina, graduated from the Schola Cantorum in Basle and the Sweelinck Conservatorium in Amsterdam, and obtained a Ph.D. in Musicology from Utrecht University.
As a musician, he has been a member of Jordi Savall’s Hesperion XX/XXI since 1981 and of a duo with Andreas Staier since 1984. In the late 1980s he played contemporary music with the ensemble Broken Consort Zurich. In 1987 he founded the ensemble Mala Punica, specializing in late medieval polyphony, with which he has performed over four hundred concerts in major early-music venues in Europe and America and published eight CDs that have received over forty international awards.
Memelsdorff and his ensemble Mala Punica have been Artists in Residence at the University of California Davis, at the Amuz in Antwerp, at the Fondation Royaumont in Paris, and Blodgett Distinguished Artists at Harvard University in 2014.
As a musicologist, Memelsdorff regularly publishes in the specialized press. He has authored a monograph on the history and codicology of the Codex Faenza 117 (LIM, Libreria Musicale Italiana, Lucca) and is preparing a further volume on the same MS for Brepols.
A Fellow of Villa I Tatti (Harvard University) in 2003-04, Memelsdorff is now an Affiliate Researcher at the University of Tours, a member of the college of the Confederal PhD programme in Italian Civilization (Switzerland), and of the Study Groups “Transmission of Knowledge as a Primary Aim in Music Education” and “Tablature in Western Music” of the International Musicological Society. He is also a member of the scientific boards of the Journal of the Alamire Foundation, and the Ars nova series of LIM.
He was tenured Professor of Music at the Conservatory of Zurich (Switzerland) and the Civica Scuola di Musica of Milan (Italy), and still serves as a tenured Professor at the Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya in Barcelona (Spain), where he directed the Master programmes in Early Music Research and Performance until 2017.
He has been guest professor and lecturer at several music institutions in Europe, America and Japan, including the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis and the Conservatories of Jerusalem, Haifa, Cologne, Mainz, Bremen, Maastricht, The Hague, Copenhagen, Lyon, Dublin, the New England Conservatory, and The Royal Academy of London; and the Universities of Oxford, Harvard, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, Rome, Saarland, Salamanca, Würzburg, Davis, and Berkeley, as well as the City University of New York, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the Catholic University of Buenos Aires.
In the spring of 2010 he was Ernest-Bloch lecturer at the University of California Berkeley, where he gave a series of lectures entitled The Music of Theory: Theorist-Composers in Late Medieval Italy, and in December 2010 he was shortlisted for a position of full professorship in Historical musicology at Harvard University.
A tenured Director of the Egida Sartori and Laura Alvini Early Music Seminars at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini in Venice since 2006, he has also served as the Director of the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basle and Artistic Director of the early-music festival Festtage Alte Musik in the same city.
In 2017 he has been appointed as artistic planner for musical events at Villa I Tatti, The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies in Florence, and in 2020 musicological advisor of the Galleria dell'Accademia of Florence.
In 2020 he was invited as Christoph Wolff Distinguished Scholar at Harvard University, and as Francesco De Dombrowski Visiting Professor at Villa I Tatti (semester January-June) to carry on a research project about music in the late-eighteenth-century French Caribbean.
He has newly founded Arlequin Philosophe, an ensemble specialized in French-Caribbean late-Baroque repertoire, which has started performing in 2021. He has also been invited by USA orchestras (Opera Lafayette, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra) to perform the same repertoire as a guest conductor.