The Dutch harpsichordist and conductor was not just a great musician but also a hugely influential one. His humility and modesty always placed the composer centre-stage, and he opened the ears of countless generations to the wonders of earlier genres of music. ‘He set the standard,’ wrote Philip Kennicott in these pages (Icons, January 2014). ‘He had one of the liveliest musical minds of his age, and nothing in his performances was ever moribund.’
A tribute by Mahan Esfahani:
Gustav Leonhardt represents elements of the remarkable revival of the harpsichord in the modern age – both in terms of the actual revival itself in the recital realm, and in terms of presenting the instrument on its own terms as a period instrument. By professing a lack of interest both in modern music and in pandering to popular tastes, he forced us to listen without assumptions and pre-ordained preferences. And for his work, along with that of Harnoncourt, in recording the complete surviving cantatas of JS Bach, he should be remembered for time immemorial.