Gustav Leonhardt



Born: May 30, 1928; Amsterdam, Netherlands   Died: January 16, 2012; Amsterdam, Netherlands  
Though participants in the "authentic performance practice" movement might insist otherwise, the search for the old is really a search for the new. This statement certainly captures the spirit that Dutch keyboardist Gustav Leonhardt began bringing to his early music performances in the 1950s. His style was characterized not by a rigorous observance of rules, but by the intuitive, almost spiritual connection it tried to establish with the music -- Read more a kind of authenticity that sought validation not so much from a rigorously academic accuracy (though Leonhardt is by no means historically careless) as from its having an "authentic" effect on the listener.

Born in Amsterdam in 1928, Leonhardt learned cello and piano before entering the Schola Cantorum in Basel to study organ and harpsichord with Eduard Müller. After graduating in 1950, he undertook a year of musicological studies before accepting a position at the Vienna Academy. Shortly thereafter, he returned to his home town, where he assumed a position at the Amsterdam Conservatory that he would keep for decades thereafter.

His first public performance took place in 1950, when he performed J.S. Bach's The Art of the Fugue for a Viennese audience. This marked the beginning of a legendary and influential career that would take him to performance venues all over the world, setting stylistic and interpretive standards for keyboard music dating from the early 1500s to the late 1700s. His treatment of the works of Couperin, Froberger, and Frescobaldi were pivotal in affecting a shift in Baroque performance practice from the motoric to the malleable.

Beginning in the 1950s, he also established the Leonhardt Consort, a group applying his same performance ideals to chamber works; during his career he also demonstrated great skill in conducting early choral and operatic works. Along the way, he tutored an entire generation of the most vibrant and stylistically varied early music figures, including Christopher Hogwood, Pierre Hantaï, and Ton Koopman.

When Leonhardt speaks of "correct" style, certain parameters are clear, while others leave much to be read between the lines. The use of the proper instrument, for example, is crucial to Leonhardt: one should not play a piece from a particular country and a particular time on an instrument from a different region and century (and of course it goes without saying what problems he might have with playing eighteenth century music on a twentieth century Steinway). His discussion of style, however, is quite flexible -- or at least elusive: "I cannot say it's a secret, but it's almost impossible to describe in words....Essentially, it must be based on a dynamic wish." Though he does consult primary sources to justify his sound -- which falls somewhere between the rubato sound of Landowska and the robotic sound of her immediate successors, he insists that the truest "rules" about the music he plays are to be discovered through the playing itself. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 95 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    C.p.e. Bach Edition
    Label: Dhm Deutsche Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 1078584 Release Date: 02/04/2014   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach
    Performer:  Andreas Staier,  Les Adieux,  Jos van Immerseel,  Eric Lynn Kelley  ... 
    Conductor:  Thomas Hengelbrock,  Franzjosef Maier,  Sigiswald Kuijken
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Adieux,  Collegium Aureum,  Ensemble Parlando
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  • 2.
    Das Alte Werk - 50-CD Collection
    Label: Teldec   Catalog: 46438 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel,  Orlando Gibbons  ... 
    Performer:  Herbert Tachezi,  Gustav Leonhardt,  Frans Brüggen,  Jeannette Van Wingerden  ... 
    Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt,  Gustav Leonhardt,  Werner Ehrhardt,  Giovanni Antonini  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Concentus Musicus,  Leonhardt Consort,  Studio for Early Music  ... 
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  • 3.
    Handel: Water Music - Masterpieces
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 2564651683 Release Date: 08/27/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Lowell Mason,  Anonymous
    Performer:  Richard [Tenor Vocal] Morton,  Felicity Palmer,  John Angelo Messana,  Felicity Lott  ... 
    Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner,  Jean-François Paillard,  Raymond Leppard,  Hugh Wolff  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Solisti Veneti,  Les Musiciens du Louvre
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  • 4.
    Frans Bruggen Edition
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 65836 Release Date: 02/26/2013   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Georg Philipp Telemann,  Arcangelo Corelli,  Francesco Barsanti,  Francesco Maria Veracini  ... 
    Performer:  Frans Brüggen,  Gustav Leonhardt,  Anner Bylsma,  Alda Stuurop  ... 
    Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Brüggen-Consort
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  • 5.
    Elly Ameling - The Early Recordings Vol 1
    Label: Dhm Deutsche Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 26613 Release Date: 12/27/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gottfried H. Stölzel,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach,  Georg Philipp Telemann  ... 
    Performer:  Angelica May,  Gustav Leonhardt,  Elly Ameling,  Hans-Martin Linde
    Conductor:  Gerhard Schmidt-Gaden,  Rudolf Pohl
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Collegium Aureum
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  • 6.
    The Arhend & Brunzema Organ - Amsterdam's Oude Kerk / Leonhardt, Imbruno
    Label: Tactus   Catalog: 5700010 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Heinrich Scheidemann,  Anthoni Van Noordt,  Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck,  Anonymous  ... 
    Performer:  Gustav Leonhardt,  Matteo Imbruno
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  • 7.
    All-Baroque Box (From Monteverdi To Bach) [50-CD Limited Edition]
    Label: Archiv Produktion (Dg)   Catalog: 001719702 Release Date: 09/25/2012   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel,  Domenico Scarlatti,  Giovanni Battista Pergolesi  ... 
    Performer:  Peter Harvey,  Stephen Varcoe,  Anthony Rolfe Johnson,  Michael Chance  ... 
    Conductor:  John Eliot Gardiner,  Paul McCreesh,  Marc Minkowski,  Trevor Pinnock  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Baroque Soloists,  Monteverdi Choir,  Gabrieli Consort  ... 
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  • 8.
    A Tribute To Gustav Leonhardt: The Last Recordings
    Label: Alpha Productions   Catalog: 815 Release Date: 07/10/2012   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  William Byrd,  John Bull,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Nicholas Strogers  ... 
    Performer:  Gustav Leonhardt
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  • 9.
    Gustav Leonhardt Plays Bach
    Label: Dhm Deutsche Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 1953072 Release Date: 05/15/2012   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Gustav Leonhardt,  Sigiswald Kuijken
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  • 10.
    Gustav Leonhardt Edition
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 731897 Release Date: 04/24/2012   Number of Discs: 15
    Composer:  Anthony Newman,  Elias Nikolaus Ammerbach,  Master John Taylor,  John Blitheman  ... 
    Performer:  Gustav Leonhardt,  Frans Brüggen,  Anner Bylsma,  Wieland Kuijken  ... 
    Conductor:  Gustav Leonhardt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leonhardt Consort
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  • 11.
    Bach: French Suites, Inventions, Sinfonias, Italian Concerto / Gustav Leonhardt
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 796257 Release Date: 04/03/2012   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Gustav Leonhardt
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  • 12.
    The Complete Bach Edition
    Label: Teldec   Catalog: 664202 Release Date: 03/27/2012   Number of Discs: 154
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Max van Egmond,  Kurt Equiluz,  Paul Esswood,  Walter Gampert  ... 
    Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt,  Gustav Leonhardt,  Ton Koopman,  Jaap Schröder  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Concentus Musicus,  Chorus Viennensis,  Vienna Boys' Choir  ... 
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  • 13.
    The Organ In Renaissance And Baroque, North German Organ Music / Leonhardt
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 796457 Release Date: 03/06/2012   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Newman,,  Elias Nikolaus Ammerbach,  Taylor,,  John Blitheman  ... 
    Performer:  Gustav Leonhardt
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  • 14.
    Bach - Earthly and Divine [6 CDs+Book]
    Label: Alpha Productions   Catalog: 889 Release Date: 11/08/2011   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Raphaël Imbert,  Ferruccio Busoni,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Raphaël Imbert,  Jean-Luc Di Fraya,  André Rossi,  Jean-Marc Fabiano  ... 
    Conductor:  Raphaël Imbert,  Gustav Leonhardt,  Raphaël Pichon,  Françoise Lasserre  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Café Zimmermann,  Akademia Ensemble,  La Chapelle Royale  ... 
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  • 15.
    Rene Jacobs Edition - Sacred Music [10-CD Set]
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 7918012 Release Date: 08/23/2011   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Luigi Rossi,  George Frideric Handel,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  John Blow  ... 
    Performer:  René Jacobs,  Rosmarie Hofmann,  Kurt Widmer,  Krisztina Láki  ... 
    Conductor:  Sigiswald Kuijken,  Jean-Claude Malgoire,  Gustav Leonhardt,  Louis Devos
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Schola Cantorum Basiliensis,  La Petite Bande,  La Grande Ecurie et la Chambre du Roy  ... 
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  • 16.
    History Of The Organ - From Latin Origins To The Modern Age
    Label: Arthaus Musik   Catalog: 107508 Release Date: 06/28/2011   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Pierre Attaingnant,  Antonio De Cabezón,  Girolamo Frescobaldi,  Francisco Correa de Arauxo  ... 
    Performer:  Bernard Foccroulle,  Gustav Leonhardt,  Hans Heintze,  André Isoir  ... 
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  • 17.
    The Bach Experience
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 80821 Release Date: 02/22/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Angela Maria Blasi,  Marie-Claire Alain,  Alan Curtis,  Ton Koopman  ... 
    Conductor:  Nikolaus Harnoncourt,  Gustav Leonhardt,  Ton Koopman,  Hans Gillesberger
    CD: $17.99
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  • 18.
    Label: Abc Classics   Catalog: 1637945 Release Date: 04/06/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Marc-Antoine Charpentier,  Josquin Des Préz,  Heinrich Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Lucinda Moon,  Tommie Andersson,  Jamie Hey,  Ben Dollman  ... 
    Conductor:  Paul Dyer,  Marc Minkowski,  Reinhard Goebel,  Frans Brüggen  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gabrieli Consort,  Musica Antiqua Cologne,  Consort of Musicke  ... 
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  • 19.
    D. Scarlatti: Sonatas For Harpsichord
    Label: Deutsche Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 7576192 Release Date: 03/30/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Domenico Scarlatti
    Performer:  Gustav Leonhardt
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  • 20.
    Louis Couperin: Suites & Pavane
    Label: Dhm Deutsche Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 7576232 Release Date: 03/30/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Louis Couperin
    Performer:  Gustav Leonhardt
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  • 21.
    Louis Couperin: Suites & Pavane / Gustav Leonhardt
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 69281 Release Date: 01/12/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Louis Couperin
    Performer:  Gustav Leonhardt
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  • 22.
    Bach: Partitas / Gustav Leonhardt
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 47996 Release Date: 12/01/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Gustav Leonhardt
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  • 23.
    Johann J. Froberger
    Label: Dhm Deutsche Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 7568392 Release Date: 08/28/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Jacob Froberger
    Performer:  Gustav Leonhardt
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  • 24.
    Purcell Edition IV: Instrumental Music / Harnoncourt, Leonhardt, Gardiner, Hogwood, Baumont
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 4691390 Release Date: 06/29/2009   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Henry Purcell
    Performer:  Nigel Rogers,  Max van Egmond,  James Bowman,  Gustav Leonhardt  ... 
    Conductor:  Gustav Leonhardt,  Sir David Willcocks,  Frans Brüggen,  Nikolaus Harnoncourt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leonhardt Consort,  Cambridge King's College Choir,  Brüggen Consort  ... 
    CD: $29.99
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  • 25.
    Best Concertos 100
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 64739 Release Date: 03/24/2009   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  George Gershwin,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Francis Poulenc  ... 
    Performer:  Stephen Hough,  Wayne Marshall,  Ralph Markham,  Kenneth Broadway  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Andrew Davis,  Wayne Marshall,  Yehudi Menuhin,  Richard Hickox  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  Aalborg Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $19.99
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