Sad news: Early music mega-star has died

We regret to report the death today of Christopher Hogwood. He was 73 years old and died at his home in Cambridge after a long illness.

christopher hogwood

Hogwood, who started out on the harpsichord with Neville Marriner’s Academy of St Martin in the Fields in the early 1960s, broke away to form his own Academy of Ancient Music. It soon became the most prolific of early music bands, recording the complete symphonies and concertos of Mozart and other composers for an awakening market on Decca.

Always personable, if at times a little haughty, Hogwood matched Marriner in his understanding of the value of brand. He was identified chiefly with the AAM until quite late in his career, when he took a post in Switzerland and explored some 20th century repertoire.

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PRESS RELEASE

24 September 2014

Christopher Hogwood, conductor and founder of the Academy of Ancient Music has died

The Academy of Ancient Music is deeply saddened to announce the death of Christopher Hogwood CBE, conductor, musicologist, keyboard player and founder of the Academy of Ancient Music.

Christopher Hogwood passed away on 24 September 2014.

Christopher Hogwood studied keyboard at Cambridge University with Rafael Puyana and Mary Potts and later with Zuzana Růžičková and Gustav Leonhardt. He worked with most of the leading symphony orchestras and opera houses in the world. Once described as “the von Karajan of early music”, he is universally acknowledged as one of the most influential exponents of the historically informed early-music movement. He was equally passionate about music of the 19th and 20th centuries: with a particular focus on the Early Romantics and the neo-classical school where he applied the same rigour and supreme musicianship to all his work, striving to discover and to recreate the composer’s intentions both in notation and performance.

Christopher Hogwood founded the Academy of Ancient Music in 1973, rapidly establishing a place at the forefront of the period-instrument movement. Over the following 30 years he directed the AAM on six continents and made over 200 CDs, including the first-ever complete cycle of Mozart symphonies on period instruments as well as many other first recordings of baroque and classical masterworks by a period orchestra. His iconic recordings include the 1980 recording of Handel’s Messiah with Emma Kirkby and James Bowman which was named by BBC Music Magazine one of the top 20 recordings of all time and the BRIT award-winning recording of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.

Other previous roles include being a founder member of the Early Music Consort and keyboard player and soloist with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, artistic director of the King’s Lynn Festival, artistic director of the Handel and Haydn Society in Boston, a tutor at Harvard University, Principal Guest Conductor of the Kammerorchester Basel, Honorary Professor of Music at the University of Cambridge and Andrew D.White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University in the USA.

Honorary President of the AAM, Christopher Purvis CBE commented: “Christopher had extraordinary generosity of spirit. He was a great ambassador for historically informed music, the movement of which he was a founder. And he was happy to see the orchestra he founded develop and grow after he stepped down as director.”

Music Director of the AAM, Richard Egarr said: “I am deeply saddened by the news of Christopher’s passing. Christopher provided a fantastic legacy for me build upon when I joined as Music Director in 2006 and I know he will be greatly missed by all who knew and worked with him.”

Chairman of the AAM, Terence Sinclair said: “Christopher made music and made friends with equal, infectious enthusiasm. He changed our lives.”

Christopher Hogwood, 10 September 1941 – 24 September 2014

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  • The whole world of period instrument music mourns the passing of a great musician, a great pioneer, a great musicologist, and away from music, a man who could discourse engagingly and eloquently on almost any subject under the sun. His influence on generations of musicians, on audiences across the globe, will last for many decades, probably many centuries. Chris was a polymath, a true renaissance man, and a truly civilised man: the world of music is much the poorer for his loss. Requiescat in pace.

  • Although it is always sad to lose a magnificent talent like Christopher Hogwood, we can at least take comfort in the fact that – unlike many – he enjoyed a full career, was able to realise almost all of the projects that were dear to him, and retained the unbridled respect of the entire musical community (HIP and otherwise).

    The Heav’nly Choir, who heard his Notes from high,
    Let down the Scale of Music from the Sky:
    They handed him along,
    And all the way He taught, and all the way they Sung.
    Ye Brethren of the Lyre, and tuneful Voice,
    Lament his Lot: but at your own rejoice.
    [- Dryden]

    • Very sad news indeed. A giant of the Early Music & Baroque renaissance of the 70’s and 80s, who went on to win hearts and minds of “modern” orchestras and musicians as well. Briefly my harmony teacher at Cambridge Tech in 1970/71, and although I only worked for him once in later years I always admired him and what he did for the whole movement towards historically informed performance practice. A great loss to us all, in the sunset years of his life. Thoughts of love and condolence to all who were close to him personally and professionally. A true pioneer! 🙁

    • I believe that phrase was reserved for Christ, not flawed human beings. Over-praise, in any case.

  • Oh, no – even the press release from Hogwood’s own team didn’t get the soloists on Messiah right?!?

    That landmark release did not feature James Bowman. The soloists were the late and lamented Judith Nelson, Emma Kirkby, Carolyn Watkinson, Paul Elliott, and David Thomas.

    Not to take anything away from Hogwood’s extraordinary achievements (his recordings showed me how marvelous Handel’s sacred music and Haydn’s masses are, that Mozart doesn’t have to be boring, and that period-instrument orchestras can sound fully polished and professional, something that Harnoncourt took longer to achieve) or from the great deal of excellent work James Bowman actually did with Hogwood.

    • His wasn’t the first British period band. Trevor Pinnock’s English Concert began one year earlier, 1972. Hogwood, I think, had a better press agent. Don’t discount the power of advertising. And Mr Pinnock never gave up the harpsichord as he conducted other orchestras. And Hogwood tended to be -how can I put this? – fussy.

  • .. giving us Dryden’s text, I mean (written I think in tribute to Henry Purcell and set to music by John Blow, the famous “Ode” on Purcell’s death for two altos, 2 recorders & continuo)
    🙂

  • As the parent of an aspiring young baroque flutist this is indeed a sad day. But we can look back on his life and career with deep appreciation for how he helped to rejuvenate and reinterpret early music.

  • He was the one who first got me interested in classical music with that mellifluous radio voice (“The Young Idea”), so he was also an important broadcaster, as well.

  • Does anybody know what will be happening to the late Prof. Hogwood’s magnificent collection of keyboard instruments? His insight, both through his performing and through his lecturing (I was fortunate enough to meet him briefly once, in 2013, and have a brief discussion on the subject; alas, I never got round to responding to his invitation to visit his collection), into the variety of tones available on such instruments was a revelation for many, being accustomed to the hegemony of the Steinway (a fine instrument, of course, but NOT the only instrument worth hearing) in concert-halls and recordings. I very much hope that the collection may continue to be curated and in active use by performers and academics.

    • The entire collection – what a greedy man! – was auctioned off. The bidders descended like vultures on carrion. I believe the proceeds were to go to the AAM, Royal Academy of Music, etc.He collected lots of stuff, also auctioned away. Rather pathetic. As for the Radio Voice,I suspect that was a Cultivated Cambridge Voice. I doubt he spoke like that in Nottingham. I think the adjective would be “plummy.” I met him in Washington, DC – he was polite to the point of rude. It’s interesting how the public – or publicized – man can be from the private one. Good musician, better scholar – he cleaned up performing editions so conductors can see what the composer actually wrote.

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