Very sombre news: the lion of early music has died

I’ve just had a call from one of his students to tell me that Gustav Leonhardt, the harpsichordist and conductor, has died.

He was 83 and retired from performance last month. His wife has told colleagues that he died Monday afternoon.

Gustav LeonhardtFoto NRC H'Blad, Maurice Boyer991210

Photo NRC / Maurice Boyer.

His wikipedia entry, freshly updated, tells the life story. First musical tribute here from a disciple.

And here’s the man in action.

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  • Very sad to hear of the death of Gustav Leonhardt – a true legend of our times. We have special memories because he was conducting the concert in which my husband Paul (Nicholson) and I first met – a packed St Barts, London Bach Festival October 31st 1996. Paul was playing continuo and I was singing in the choir – a concert of Bach cantatas. Leonhardt had a unique interpretation of that repertoire which was very different to what we singers were used to at the time, but it somehow worked and it was a performance to remember. As it was broadcast on Radio 3 we have a recording, which we treasure.

  • R.I.P. Gustav. I acquired a large cd-set – 21 cds – as a bargain in the late 90s and of course, I am well familiar with one of the greatest recorded undertakings of all times,him and Nikolaus Harnoncourt sharing the complete Bach cantatas between them. A dedicated and a serious musician.

  • I was greatly privileged to perform in several concerts and a recording with Gustav Leonhardt in the 80’s and 90’s, and will never forget the charm and generosity of spirit that this great man exuded. He was not just a wonderful harpsichordist and organist, not just a superb and truthful musician, not just a pioneer in the Early and Baroque music scene, but above all he was a man of immense humanity and integrity. R.I.P.

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