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Gustav Leonhardt

Gustav Maria Leonhardt was one of the best-known leaders of the Early Music movement. A harpsichordist and organist and later a conductor, he was credited with being one of the most important figures in establishing the Netherlands as one of the main centers of period music performances.

He had a classical education, then entered the Schola Cantorum in Basle. There he studied organ and harpsichord with Eduard Müller. In 1950 he made his debut in Vienna with a harpsichord performance of J.S. Bach's cerebral masterwork, The Art of the Fugue. He studied musicology in Vienna for a year, then took a position as professor of harpsichord at the Vienna Academy of Music (1952-1955).

In 1954 he became professor of harpsichord at the Amsterdam Conservatory and at the same time organist of the historic Waalse Kerk (Church) there, which has a magnificent Baroque organ built by Christian Müller in 1733.

In 1955 he organized the Gustav Leonhardt Consort, one of the first "period instruments" groups, and one that was a leader in the field for most of its existence. This led to his conducting the ensemble and also choral groups in the Baroque and Classical repertoire, particularly that of J.S. Bach.

His area of specialty included the 17th and 18th centuries. As a musicologist, he did extensive research in the preparation and technique of the instruments, performing styles, ornamentation, and so forth. As a teacher, he inspired such leading Dutch musicians as keyboard player Bob van Asperen, flutist Barthold Kuijken, and cellist Anner Bylsma.

In 1967 he starred in Jean-Marie Staub's motion picture biography of Johann Sebastian Bach, portraying the master and playing his music on organ and harpsichord. In 1967 and 1968 he was a visiting professor at Harvard University.

Leading the Leonhardt Consort, he produced Teldec's great series of complete Bach cantata recordings (sharing the cantatas with Nikolaus Harnoncourt and the Vienna Concentus Musicus). He recorded extensively for that label, shifting to Sony Classics in the 1990s. His performances tended to be restrained, an academic approach that characterized the earliest wave of period music performance, which inspired both followers and a group that reacted against it with lively, more historically speculative performance styles.

Leonhardt was also a respected scholar and editor of Baroque music, especially the music of Sweelinck, and authored a major study of The Art of the Fugue. He has won several honorary degrees and Holland's prestigious Erasmus Prize (1990). ~ Joseph Stevenson
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Bach: English Suites, Partitas - Gustav Leonhardt (4 CD's)

Disc 1
Title: English Suite, for keyboard No. 1 in A major, BWV 806 (BC L13)
Title: English Suite, For Keyboard No. 2 In A Minor, Bwv 807 (Bc L14)
Title: English Suite, For Keyboard No. 3 In G Minor, Bwv 808 (Bc L15)
Disc 2
Title: English Suite, For Keyboard No. 4 In F Major, Bwv 809 (Bc L16)
Title: English Suite, For Keyboard No. 5 In E Minor, Bwv 810 (Bc L17)
Title: English Suite, for keyboard No. 6 in D minor, BWV 811 (BC L18)
Disc 3
Title: Partita For Keyboard No. 1 In B Flat Major, Bwv 825 (Bc L1)
Title: Partita For Keyboard No. 2 In C Minor, Bwv 826 (Bc L2)
Title: Partita For Keyboard No. 3 In A Minor, Bwv 827 (Bc L3)
Disc 4
Title: Partita For Keyboard No. 4 In D Major, Bwv 828 (Bc L4)
Title: Partita For Keyboard No. 5 In G Major, Bwv 829 (Bc L5)
Title: Partita For Keyboard No. 6 In E Minor, Bwv 830 (Bc L6)
x

Track List: Froberger: Harpsichord Works [Germany]

Title: Toccata (No.12), for Keyboard in a Minor, Fbwv 112

1. Toccata (No.12), for Keyboard in a Minor, Fbwv 112: Toccata No. 12 In A Minor

Title: Suite for Harpsichord No. 20 in D Major

2. Suite for Harpsichord No. 20 in D Major: I. Allemande

3. Suite for Harpsichord No. 20 in D Major: II. Gigue

4. Suite for Harpsichord No. 20 in D Major: III. Courante

5. Suite for Harpsichord No. 20 in D Major: IV. Sarabande

Title: Fantasia (No.2), for Keyboard in a Minor/e Minor, Fbwv 202

6. Fantasia (No.2), for Keyboard in a Minor/e Minor, Fbwv 202: Fantasia No. 2 In E Minor

Title: Lamentation-faite Sur La Mort Très Douloureuse De Sa Majesté Impériale, Ferdinand III, for Keyboard in F Major, Fbwv 633
Title: Toccata (No.3), for Keyboard in G Major, Fbwv 103

8. Toccata (No.3), for Keyboard in G Major, Fbwv 103: Toccata No. III In G Major

Title: Suite No. 1 in a Minor

9. Suite No. 1 in a Minor: I. Allemande

10. Suite No. 1 in a Minor: II. Courante

11. Suite No. 1 in a Minor: III. Sarabande

Title: Toccata (No.10), for Keyboard in F Major, Fbwv 110

12. Toccata (No.10), for Keyboard in F Major, Fbwv 110: Toccata No. 10 In F Major

Title: Suite No. 15 in a Minor

13. Suite No. 15 in a Minor: I. Allemande

14. Suite No. 15 in a Minor: II. Gigue

15. Suite No. 15 in a Minor: III. Courante

16. Suite No. 15 in a Minor: IV. Sarabande

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