Obituary: Reinbert de Leeuw, conductor, pianist, and composer who championed Satie and Andriessen, 81

Posted on: February 21, 2020

“Known to many for his fine series of recordings of the piano music of Erik Satie, Reinbert de Leeuw was a musician whose fascination for the music of the 20th century enriched musical life for half a century,” reads an unsigned Monday (2/17) Gramophone obituary. He died on February 14 at age 81. “In 1974 de Leeuw founded the Schönberg Ensemble, which specialized in music of the 20th century…. He was guest artistic director of the Aldeburgh Festival in 1992 and from 1994 to 1998 was artistic director of the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music. As a conductor he was involved in the creation or early performances of operatic works by Louis Andriessen, Ligeti, Claude Vivier and Robert Zuidam as well as major works by Britten and Stravinsky. In 1981, Philips released a much-admired three-LP set of early piano music by Satie which put de Leeuw’s name in front of a larger audience…. De Leeuw’s championing of rare Satie continued more recently with a recording with Barbara Hannigan of the song cycle Socrate and other songs for Winter & Winter.… The Hannigan partnership … continued on record with an album, ‘Vienna. Fin de siècle.’ ” He conducted Louis Andriessen’s music on recordings including 2017’s Theatre of the World, a multi-media piece recorded live during the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s world premiere performances.