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Gustav Leonhardt †


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Gustav Leonhardt was really one of the great, towering intellectuals of the Netherlands early-music movement, which rapidly gained a world-wide reputation for the excellence of the musicology and the fine attention to detail in performance practice.


The late Stephen Bicknell once described Netherlands organists as "impossibly intellectual," and in a way he was right, for nothing was left to chance and no stone was left unturned in the pursuit of that which was both convincing and authentic.


Leonhardt was not without his critics, for he was often regarded as too cool and intellectual in his approach: something which he himself acknowledged in due course, but musical spontaneity would never be his principal attribute. Nevertheless, in his thorough research and unending quest for the authentic voice of early music, he would inspire many to follow that same path and become well equipped to follow their own musical instincts.


It is not suprrisng that Gustav Leonhardt was important to the famous early-music scene in Boston and Harvard in the USA; one of the great world centres of early-music interpretation and scholarship. His legacy, I feel sure, will live on for a very long time, if only because so much of what he achieved was beyond reproach intellectually. Only a handful of such scholars ever exist in the world at any one time, and his passing is indeed a substantial loss both to world music and the Netherlands.



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