History and Mission

Aston Magna at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center 0n 6-29-2013.OUR MISSION

The mission of the Aston Magna Foundation is to enrich the appreciation of music of the past and the understanding of the cultural, political, and social contexts in which it was composed and experienced.

The goal is to reach a larger public through the use of historical instruments and practices in performances, recordings, and workshops, and through innovative interdisciplinary educational programs, publications, and electronic media.


Since 1972, Aston Magna has forged an important and unique place in American cultural life.

Founded by Lee Elman and the late Albert Fuller, the Aston Magna Music Festival, now under the musical direction of Daniel Stepner, is America’s oldest annual summer festival devoted to music performed on period instru­ments. Aston Magna’s pioneering his­­tory includes the first American perform­ances of the complete Bach Brandenburg Concer­tos and the first Mozart symphonies on original in­stru­ments. Aston Magna’s international concert performances have included appearances at the Valtice Festival in the Czech Republic and a European tour of Handel’s oratorio, The Triumph of Time and Truth, at venues in Europe such as the Pamphilj Palace in Rome, where the work was first heard under Handel’s direction in 1707.

Aston Magna seeks to inter­pret the music of the past as the composer imagined it. Original period instru­ments — or his­torical­ly accurate repro­ductions – are essential performance elements. Performance tech­niques are ap­pro­priate to the period, national styles, culture and aesthetics of the time.

Aston Magna pursues these goals in its educational and public programs, recordings and books. For two decades, the Aston Magna Academies brought together artists and scholars in all disciplines of the humanities for three weeks of intensive interdisciplinary exploration. A series of books based on the themes of the Academies is being published. Schubert’s Vienna, is available through Yale University Press, and The Worlds of Johann Sebastian Bach is available through Amadeus Press.

Aston Magna’s growing discography includes performances of the Schubert Octet and Mozart Quintets on the Harmonia Mundi label; The Musical Offering and other works by J.S. Bach, Bach cantatas as well as Handel’s Triumph of Time and Truth, Mozart quintets and Monteverdi’s landmark opera, L’Orfeo, on the Centaur label.