Sadness: Alice Harnoncourt died today

Sadness: Alice Harnoncourt died today


norman lebrecht

July 20, 2022

The lifelong partner of Nikolaus von Harnoncourt, co-founder and concertmaster of Concentus Musicus Wien and mother of four children, reached the end of her mortal journey today.

Alice Hoffelner-Harnoncourt was 91. Her husband died in 2016.

They had been married devotedly for 63 years.



  • Ruben Greenberg says:

    The end of an era. Rest in peace and thanks for all the wonderful musical memories.

  • Lucien Knoedler says:

    What a wonderful, elegant, deeply gifted and fearless partner she has been to one of the greatest European Kulturträger Nikolaus Harnoncourt. What a gift to have met both more often.

  • Peter San Diego says:

    Very sad to read of her passing. And shocked to realize that her husband had passed away 6 years ago — it seems much more recent. Both left indelible imprints on musical performance.

  • Scott says:

    I heard her play 44 years ago. A marvelous artist.

  • M.Arnold says:

    “mortal journey”? Is there any other one about which we should know?

  • Peter Watchorn says:

    Like Marie Leonhardt (also principal violinist of her husband’s ensemble), one of the greats and an essential partner/collaborator. Women such as these should be acknowledged far more often and far more prominently. Alice Harnoncourt WAS the sound of Concentus Musicus..

  • Zenaida says:

    Many memories come to mind: when Harnoncourt and Ponnelle did the – in hindsight ground-breaking – Monteverdi opera cycle at the Zurich Opera House in the mid-seventies, Alice was always there, her graceful, quiet and knowledgeable presence adding a practical and down-to-earth touch to the sometimes exalted discussions about interpretation of the two gentlemen. She will be sorely missed!

  • FrauGeigerin says:

    She was a wonderful and beautiful woman. I have been very lucky to meet her and Nikolaus many times.

    Many years ago, while still a student, Alice was going to eat lunch with my teacher, and she sat patiently in the classroom while I destroyed Brahms 2. Sonate until my lesson was finished. She saw that I was very frustrated after having played so badly, and then had some very encouraging words for me. That was the day I met her.

    A few weeks later I went to a music store to buy a set of strings, asked about the price of a very nice set, but it was too high, so I told the owner of the store that I would buy ta cheaper set. Alice was in the store and overheard the conversation, came to me and told me I should get the X brand strings [the nice and expensive ones]. I replied that the set was too expensive for me. Then she told the man that I was taking two sets of the expensive ones and paid them for me as a gift! She was incredibly nice and generous and she will be deeply missed.

    Rest in peace, dear Alice.

  • Tom Melody says:

    A cute picture of them in their youth!

  • Lubano says:

    Here’s what Alice Harnoncourt once said in an interview: “Solange wir diese einfache Musik gemacht haben, Barockmusik, da hab ich praktisch nie geübt.” — This was a huge part of the problem.

  • El Exigente says:

    Married 63 years (not 53…)

  • Miv Tucker says:

    Is that them in the top photo? It’s almost unbearably poignant to see them looking so young.
    And if it’s not too much of a cliché, thank you for the music.

  • Son says:

    My mother turns 91 tomorrow and is unwell and in the hospital. I can’t help but think of the lives that generation led.