Tragedy: Eminent harpsichordist is killed by Vienna taxi

Tragedy: Eminent harpsichordist is killed by Vienna taxi


norman lebrecht

March 14, 2017

Two people were getting out of a taxi near the Intercontinental Hotel at one in the morning on Sunday when a second taxi drove into them.

One man was killed on the spot, a second person was fatally injured.

The first casualty has been unofficially identified as Gordon Murray, 68, a Canadian professor of harpsichord at Vienna’s university of music and performing arts.

The second fatality was their guest, Alice Rutherford,  a visitor from Britain, aged 89. She died later in hospital.

Gordon Murray, a student of Marie-Claire Alain, worked with Nikolaus Harnoncourt and other early music leaders while developing his academic career. He made recordings of Bach, Scarlatti and Schütz.


  • Ungeheuer says:

    As much as I dislike the harpsichord, this is tragic and sad. Life can turn on a dime for any of us.

    • Johann says:

      Quit speaking from ignorance about the harpsichord.. also most importantly this was an article about a human tragedy.. if you did not know him (and even if you did) then this is not the place to air your pathetic views about instruments …

  • Mark Peters says:

    We who knew Gordon mourn his untimely and senseless passing. Fortunately Ann, his wife had not alighted from the taxi and was unscathed. Their deceased friend was an elderly English woman.

  • Max Grimm says:

    “His wife was seriously injured. The second fatality was their guest, a visitor from Britain, aged 89. He died later in hospital.”

    Two corrections Norman.
    Mr. Murray’s wife was not “seriously injured”. She was seated in the vehicle when her husband and their friend from Britain (a woman, not a man) were struck exiting the taxi in front of said friend’s Vienna apartment.
    Mrs. Murray, while uninjured, was in a state of shock and had to receive psychological care.

    • norman lebrecht says:


    • Steve Read says:

      I would also like to clarify a few incorrect statements even though to be honest, they are understandable since even the Vienna local papers and TV and radio got some details wrong.
      Firstly the elderly lady that died was a good friend of mine: Alice Rutherford was 89 years old and an Austrian born woman who married a British army officer many decades ago. She took British citizenship from that point on. Alice was not a guest or visitor, she was a Resident of Vienna for most of her life and much loved by all who had the good fortune to know her. She like Ann and Gordon were members of the British Community Association of Vienna
      Gordon, Ann, and Alice were together at the Irish Ball that evening and of course they always made sure their good friend for many years, Alice was taken home.
      At 1 AM the next morning Gordon and Alice exited their taxi and he escorted her across the road. A passing taxi driver failed to see them and collided with them both.
      I cannot begin to imagine how Ann felt at that moment and can only hope that she will, like their daughters, somehow come to terms with the horrors of that sad morning.
      Vienna lost two very special people and they will be missed dreadfully.
      May Alice and Gordon both rest in eternal peace.

  • Emma Bonnar says:

    I knew him from childhood, he was a great friend of my father’s and I spent several happy weeks ‘helping’ him rebuild our harpsichord.

  • John Logan Whitelaw says:

    Haunted by the shock, many wonderful memories resurface. I only hope that Ann has the necessary support. Yours, John

  • Barbara Anderson says:

    So sorry to hear of the death of Gordon Murray and his guest . He was such a great person and musically talented that he shared with so many. He will be greatly missed! Condolences and love to all the family and friends.

  • CaperCarole says:

    Very tragic!!

  • Arthur Haas says:

    What horrible news this is. Gordon was a friend and colleague going back to Paris days. I will miss him a lot as will the early music world. Our hearts go out to Ann and the girls.
    Arthur and Martha

  • m. Luisa Baldassari says:

    Me and many Italian musicians who have known and studied with M. Murray will miss him greatly. M. Luisa Baldassari

  • James Peters says:

    Gordon was an inspirational figure to me when as a boy I used to be a houseguest of him and Anne when they lived near Paris, with his many passions, amateur radio, photography and of course music. A true renaissance man who will be missed

  • M. Gilby says:

    Thank you all for your support. His sudden passing has left a significant hole in our family. He was a great musician but more importantly he was a father, husband, brother, uncle and friend. He was a man of many talents and loved photography, flying, fine wines, travel and good conversation (to name just a few). He always knew what to say, and could speak like no other. I would request your continued support, especially for Ann as the hardest part will be the quiet in the months ahead that she and the girls now face. Thank you RIP Uncle Gordon, you are missed.

  • Andrew Appel says:

    Gordon and I were both students of Kenneth Gilbert at the Royal Conservatory in Antwerpen (along with John Whitelaw who has posted an eloquent note here), Scott Ross, Jos van Immerseel and other fine musicians. I spent many meals and hours…listening to him and he listening to me. We lost contact for over 40 years, but saw each other in Vienna just 2 years ago. A treat…The violence and senselessness of his death are at such odds with his peaceful and creative life. I so hope he did not suffer and maybe even did not have time to know… but what a shock to all of us. With loving thoughts to his family….

  • Alessandro Padoan says:

    My heart broke when I heard about this tragedy on Monday morning. I lost a Friend, not just the most brilliant Teacher I had. I can’t forget the special days spent together in Vienna, but also in South Italy, in Vicenza and in Bolzano when I invited him to do master classes for my students or give concerts. My thoughts are with Ann and her daughters Charlotte and Catherine. I’ll miss you, Gordon.

  • Patrizia Laura Ferioli Agnoletto says:

    I’m saddened so much, Maestro Murray was great musician and formidable teacher, I knew him as a pupil in Venice many years ago, my condolences.

  • Rowena and Hugh Rosenbaum says:

    We knew Gordon and Ann from their first days in Paris, and are deeply shocked and saddened at the news of his death; we had seen both of them briefly in recent years, and of course looked forward to future encounters.
    Ann, our hearts go out to you and to your daughters…
    Love from both of us,
    —Rowena and Hugh Rosenbaum, in London

  • Peter Watchorn says:

    On March 12 I was due to fly to Vienna to participate three days later in the launch of the German edition of my biography of my teacher, and Gordon Murray’s predecessor at the Hochschule in Vienna, Isolde Ahlgrimm (Gordon took over from her as Professor of Harpsichord in 1986). I was in touch with Gordon just a week before departure, and we were due to meet in Vienna on March 16, after a visiting colleague of his had departed (I’m not sure if this was the British lady who also died so tragically). Due to the impending snow storm on the East Coast of the US, we were unable to make our flight. I returned home to Cambridge, MA on the evening of March 12 to the shocking news about Gordon and his guest, conveyed from a friend in Vienna, with whom we were going to be staying. Although Gordon and I knew each other for over 20 years, and corresponded a fair bit, we met only once, at his apartment in Vienna in 1995. I recall that he had just received his new harpsichord by Martin Skowroneck, for which he had waited 18 years. He was a fine musician, beloved teacher and incredibly helpful colleague, specifically, in my case, in obtaining permission for me to use a reproduction of the portrait of Isolde Ahlgrimm that hung in his teaching studio for the cover of the English edition of my biography of her (Ashgate, 2007). For me this was an especially bizarre and tragic ending to what would have otherwise been merely a cancelled trip. It still haunts me. My condolences and best wishes to his wife, Ann, his family and many friends and students.

  • The members and staff of the Debert Flight Centre will miss Gordon dropping in to rent a Cessna and go flying. He was always looking forward to talking about the sport with the members. I hope that Ann is out of the hospital quickly.

  • leo pelzmann says:

    he was a great man ,he ifen could repair a car. he got me mozart kugeln from vienna.i know the whole familie ,because im from stewiacke gordons home town,my new home land.
    i miss him, and many more from stewiacke. i came from vienna 47 years ago to canada.
    and gordon , was a very special person to me. i hope ann you be better after a while, leo

  • Alec (Sandy) Tilley and Debbie (Pidgeon) Tilley says:

    How tragic to have received this news today. Both Debbie and I knew Gordon and Ann from days in the Faculty of Music at McGill University in Montreal. We then reconnected many years later after our move to Halifax, Nova Scotia – the Murrays would travel here often in the summers, to visit family and concertize.

    Gordon was not only a fine player, but a real teacher, with a love of music and a depth and breadth of understanding, tied to a joy for life and people. He will be greatly missed.

    Our thoughts are with Ann and the girls.

  • Fiona McAlpine says:

    Very shocked and saddened to learn of Gordon’s death. I knew Ann and Gordon during my student days in Paris, and if there is one thing I particularly remember about him it is his generosity of spirit. I also remember how, ‘for fun’ we would perform Winterreise with a feeling of naughtiness, since Gordon was not a pianist and I am not a tenor! We both loved that work. Also Schubert’s F minor fantasia for 4 hands, on his Broadwood square piano.
    Ann, I am thinking of you,
    God bless, Fiona McAlpine, University of Auckland, NZ

  • Ugo Colombo Sacco di Albiano says:

    Gordon: a true gentleman who has spiritually improved this world making it a more nice place to inhabit. He leaves to all of us, who had the honour to be his friends, the responsibility to recall and behave according to the high standards of generosity and enlightened empathy which were his own. With eternal gratitude