Nikolaus Harnoncourt, conductor, cellist, teacher and author, will be presented with the Royal Philharmonic Society Gold Medal on Sunday, April 22, when he is in London to conduct the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra at the Barbican. Harnoncourt – who was recently inducted into the Gramophone Hall of Fame – joins a distinguished list of RPS Gold Medal recipients that includes composers such as Brahms (1877), Delius and Elgar (1925), Richard Strauss (1936), Stravinsky (1954), Britten (1964) and Bernstein (1987), and performing artists such as Claudio Abbado, Dame Janet Baker, Sir John Barbirolli, Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, Alfred Brendel, Plácido Domingo, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Sir Simon Rattle.
John Gilhooly, RPS chairman, will make the presentation at a concert in which Harnoncourt will conduct Beethoven's Missa solemnis. The RPS citation reads 'Nikolaus Harnoncourt was a pioneer in the early period instrument revival, but much more besides. As a conductor his name is legendary with singers for his extraordinary vision into early, baroque, classical and even operetta. Performances with Harnoncourt are always unique and special.
'Nearly 60 years ago he formed the Concentus Musicus Wien with period instruments, but he also works with most of the world's main orchestras using modern instruments and was one of the earliest pioneers of this dual approach. His performances of the Monteverdi operas along with the Mozart cycle in Zurich stand as landmark events. He is a man who is dedicated to music and humanity.'
Here's the 'Gloria' from the Missa solemnis in the Teldec recording that Harnoncourt recorded with the Anold Schoenberg Choir; the Chamber of Orchestra of Europe and soloists Eva Mei, Marjana Lipovsek, Anthony Rolfe Johnson and Robert Holl. (The Royal Philharmonic Society, incidentally, commissioned Beethoven's Ninth Symphony back in 1817 for £50.)