Early music pioneer Gustav Leonhardt dies

RNW archive

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The celebrated Dutch harpsichordist, conductor and organist Gustav Leonhardt died on Monday aged 83. Amsterdam’s New Church where he served as organist announced the news in the NRC Handelsblad newspaper on Tuesday afternoon.

Leonhardt was one of the pioneers of the early music movement, which caught on quickly in the Netherlands. He was influential in the field of the ‘authentic’ performance of Baroque music, especially that of Bach, both as a musicologist and performer.

Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Leonhardt made his first gramophone recording in the 1953: Bach’s The Art of Fugue. He set up the Leonard Ensemble to perform Baroque music, making countless recordings with them. He collaborated with Nikolaus Harnoncourt to record all Bach’s cantatas. He made many recordings as a harpsichordist and as an organist, also finding time to teach at Amsterdam’s music conservatory.

Leonhardt received awards and honorary doctorates in many countries. He gave his last recital in Paris on 12 December 2011, announcing his retirement from the concert platform the following day.

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