Conductor and early-music specialist Nikolaus Harnoncourt retires

Posted on: December 8, 2015

“The great Austrian conductor and early-music pioneer Nikolaus Harnoncourt announced his retirement this weekend, as he celebrated his 86th birthday,” writes Michael Cooper in Monday’s (12/7) New York Times. “Harnoncourt—who founded the Concentus Musicus Wien in 1953, teamed up with Gustav Leonhardt to record nearly 200 of Johann Sebastian Bach’s cantatas for Teldec, and became a much-sought-after conductor of later music as well—announced his retirement in a handwritten note, copies of which were placed in the programs at a Concentus Musicus concert in Vienna. ‘Dear audience,’ Mr. Harnoncourt wrote in the letter, which was in German. ‘My bodily strength requires me to cancel my future plans.’ … Harnoncourt, who was born in Berlin to an aristocratic family and raised in Graz, Austria, began his career as a cellist. After founding the Concentus Musicus Wien with his wife, Alice, he delved into work with period instruments and Renaissance and Baroque performance traditions. During his long career, he led a famous cycle of Monteverdi operas; developed lasting relationships with the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, and the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras; and played a wide variety of repertoire—including, at the age of 80, Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess.”

Posted December 8, 2015