Why is Gustav Leonhardt being sent off from the wrong church?

Why is Gustav Leonhardt being sent off from the wrong church?


norman lebrecht

January 19, 2012

The funeral of the Lion of Early Music will be at the Westerkerk in Amsterdam on Tuesday the 24th at 3pm (condolences from 1pm).

Unfortunately, this is not the church where Leonhardt prayed and played. That was the French Reformed (Walloon) Church, where he was organist, and also at the Nieuwe Kerk. So why the switch? The Westerkerk has a recently restotred organ – probably louder than the other two, I’m told.


  • PJ de Boer says:

    The Westerkerk organ is anything but 19th century; it was originally built in 1686 and, after many alterations over time, restored and rebuilt around 1990 much to its original form. It can certainly play loud enough, but nowhere near the Nieuwe Kerk organ, which is famous for its large number of pipes. The Waalse Kerk organ too, although relatively small, is more than powerful enough to fill the church.

    I would guess the reason is much more pragmatic: the Nieuwe Kerk is no longer in use as a church since over thirty years, except for royal and state events; the Waalse Kerk is too small, which leaves the Westerkerk as the most prominent protestant church in Amsterdam as the logical choice.

      • Thomas Spacht says:

        The reason for the Westerkerk is because (a) there is an exhibition at the Nieuwe Kerk and the contract states no funerals during that time and (b) the Waalse Kerk is too small for the condolences period, at least. I am not sure if the funeral itself is private, but I suspect so.

    • J. Westerman says:

      According to Dutch media, the Westerkerk is the church where Gustav Leonhardt used to go in recent years as a churchgoer. This would not be surprising as the Westerkerk is the protestant church closest to his home. It is situated nearby Gustav Leonhardt’s wonderful house at the Herengracht, the so-called Bartolotti House. (http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bestand:Huis_bartolotti.jpg). Leonhardt wrote a book about the house that is said to be a design of the great Dutch architect Hendrick de Keyser, who is also the architect of the Westerkerk.

      But in the end, whatever the reasons may be to choose the Westerkerk, we may assume that the perfectionist Gustav Leonhardt decided himself in which church the commemoration service was going to be held. And if it was not him, it was his family. Doesn’t it mean that the Westerkerk is the right church?

      May he rest in peace and may his spirit live through his recordings and all the people he inspired.

      • yosun mistral says:

        G R A C E F U L L N O T E S
        Right.Due to the obvious sensitivity of the issue no one would like to cause any disagreement or
        make people upset.Surely ,His Family would do the best .Still I believe that Gustav Leonhardt’s death is going to be Commemorated within the churches of the hearts of his great lovers
        throughout the world name them christians ,muslums, jews, budists or others .
        Gustav Leonhardt’s spirit will be enlightning generations
        so gracefully forever and ever.