Gustav Leonhardt 1928-2012

© Tilman Skowroneck 2012

It is a sad occasion that makes me resume the writing of blog posts: yesterday morning the news reached me that Gustav Leonhardt has passed away on 16 January in his Amsterdam home.

Gustav Leonhardt walking the streets of Vienna. Photo by Ibo Ortgies, October 22, 2011

As I wrote elsewhere, I remember Gustav Leonhardt as a lifelong friend and mentor. Lifelong, because our first encounter happened at a time that I do not even remember. I am told that I was two years old; friend, because that’s what he was to me: always kind, inquiring, never brusque, and on many occasions more than ready to share not only musical, but also completely unmusical experiences such as a new movie, a book with high-end photos of Bugatti cars, a (slow, one may add) sightseeing drive through the summery back country of Siena, Tuscany, or the offerings of one or another new Amsterdam restaurant; mentor, finally, because since the first time I touched a keyboard (with higher aims than a plinking or plunking agenda, which was at the age of five and a half) Gustav Leonhardt’s musicianship has been a continuous source of inspiration for me. When I finally was in the position to take lessons at his house in Amsterdam, he spent considerable time and effort to critically assess my playing (quite in contrast to his generally complimentary style at masterclasses), from which I benefit every day even today, and for which I am eternally grateful.

The impact of this shift in the world of historical performance practice will be great. No matter whether in accordance or in opposition, there will be few harpsichordists today whose playing is not, in one way or another, influenced by Leonhardt’s approach. Now, all of a sudden, we’re on our own. The impact on the world of his closer friends and colleagues is immense. His unique wit, brilliancy and warmth will be missed at every moment to come.

My thoughts are with his wife Marie Leonhardt, his family, and his friends.

The New York Times Obituary is available under this link.

About these ads

Tags: ,

4 Responses to “Gustav Leonhardt 1928-2012”

  1. Siebe Henstra Says:

    Mooi!

  2. jmccarty3 Says:

    Thank you for this wonderful tribute, Tilman. We are indeed fortunate that he has left us with such an extensive legacy. May his memory be eternal.

  3. pratiquepiano Says:

    Hi, If I may, G. Leonhardt last recital can be listened to here:

    http://pianopratique.wordpress.com/2012/01/18/gustav-leonhardt-1928-2012/

    thank you for this post

  4. skowroneck Says:

    Thanks for your comment, pratiquepiano. There has a discussion been going on among Leonhardt’s colleagues and friends about whether these recordings were at all authorized. Friends (including myself) tend to believe that they were not, since GL did not usually allow live recordings. You don’t happen to know more about this?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 29 other followers

%d bloggers like this: