Nikolaus Harnoncourt, still striving after all these years

Nikolaus Harnoncourt, still striving after all these years


norman lebrecht

May 06, 2016

From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

In May 2015, visibly frail, the august Nikolaus Harnoncourt stood before his Concentus Musicus Wien and directed two Beethoven symphonies in a reading that followed closely what the composer had written in his score. If Beethoven gave a primitive horn an impossible low D to play, that’s how Harnoncourt wanted it played and not, as others do, switched it to the bassoon. It’s a vital question, he said, of ‘whether it is possible to achieve your goals’.

harnoncourt lebrecht

Read here and here.


  • Sue says:

    I was at that concert at the Musikverein! I thought the horn was way to loud and destroyed the balance of the symphony. And I well remember Harnoncourt hobbling onto the platform with this walking stick and the woman next to me, at interval, suggesting ‘we think Harnoncourt will retire next year”. Little did any of us realize….

  • jaypee says:

    Harnoncourt fans will be happy to know that a new recording of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis will come out in June on Sony. Since the orchestra is the Concentus musicus, I assume this recording comes from last Summer’s concerts in Graz or in Salzburg, his very last public performances.

    As for Beethoven symphonies, since he played the 1st, the 2nd and the 3rd with the Concentus musicus in Vienna, I wonder if they will eventually be released.

  • Gerhard says:

    What is a ‘primitive horn’ in your book? Just a valveless natural horn? Never seen that term before, and many think otherwise.

  • Jan says:

    It must have been ” a joke by Norman”, Gerhard