January 20, 2012
By ALLAN KOZINN
Gustav Leonhardt, the Dutch harpsichordist, organist and conductor who was a pioneer in the world of period instrument performance and research into Baroque performance styles, died on Monday at his home in Amsterdam. He was 83.
The New Church in Amsterdam, where Mr. Leonhardt was organist, announced his death in the newspaper NRC Handelsblad.
Both as a keyboard soloist and as the founder and director of the Leonhardt Consort, Mr. Leonhardt made hundreds of recordings that, along with those of Nikolaus Harnoncourt, August Wenzinger and a handful of others, were the defining discography of the historical performance movement in the 1950s and ’60s.
He systematically recorded Bach’s keyboard music, sometimes revisiting works like the “Goldberg Variations,” which he recorded in 1952, 1965 and 1979.
With his Leonhardt Consort, founded in 1955, he performed a broad selection of the Baroque chamber, orchestral and dramatic repertory, and helped revive works by Rameau, Lully, André Campra and other Baroque composers. But the group’s most important project was a collaboration with Mr. Harnoncourt and his Concentus Musicus of Vienna on a complete traversal of Bach’s church cantatas for the Telefunken (later Teldec) Das Alte Werke series.
The cycle, started in 1971, took nearly two decades to complete. Installments were released in boxed sets that included full scores of the cantatas. He later recorded Bach’s secular cantatas as well, for the Alpha label.
Read the full story.
Read an article by Larry Palmer, professor of Harpsichord and Organ in Meadows School of the Arts, in the June 2011 edition of the international music journal The Diapason.
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