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Gustav Leonhardt at the MAfestival in Bruges
Gustav Leonhardt (born 30 May 1928, 's-Graveland) is a highly acclaimed Dutchmarker keyboard player, conductor, musicologist, teacher and editor. Leonhardt has been a leader in the movement to perform music on period instruments. The keyboard instruments on which he has performed and recorded include the harpsichord, pipe organ, claviorganum (a combination of a harpsichord and an organ), clavichord, and fortepiano.

From 1947 to 1950 Gustav Leonhardt studied organ and harpsichord with Eduard Müller at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Baselmarker. He made his debut as a harpsichordist in Viennamarker in 1950 and studied musicology there. He served as professor of harpsichord at the Academy of Music from 1952 to 1955 and as professor of harpsichord at the Amsterdam Conservatorymarker from 1954. He also was a church organist.

Leonhardt made his first recordings of Johann Sebastian Bach's works for harpsichord in the early 1950s. These recordings established his reputation as a fine harpsichordist and brilliant Bach interpreter. In 1954 he led the Leonhardt Baroque Ensemble with the great English counter-tenor Alfred Deller in a pioneering recording of two Bach cantatas. The Ensemble included his wife Marie Leonhardt (b. 1928) and Eduard Melkus (violins), Alice Harnoncourt-Hoffelner (violin, viola), Nikolaus Harnoncourt (cello), and Michel Piguet (oboe).

Leonhardt has performed and conducted a diversity of solo, chamber, orchestral, operatic, and choral music from the Renaissance, Baroque and Classical music era periods. He and Harnoncourt undertook the project of recording the first complete cycle of Bach's cantatas on period instruments; the two conductors divided up the cantatas and recorded their assigned cantatas with their own ensembles. The undertaking took almost twenty years, from 1971 to 1990. Leonhardt has also recorded Bach's St. Matthew Passion and Mass in B Minor, and much other baroque choral music.

As a keyboardist, Leonhard was recorded much of the important repertory from the Elizabethan William Byrd to some sonatas of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, with most of his focus on the Baroque era, including most of the French clavecinistes. He has recorded Bach's Goldberg Variations three times, Partitas twice, Art of Fugue twice, Well-Tempered Clavier, French Suites, English Suites, and a vast number of individual works for harpsichord, clavichord, and organ.

Leonhardt has had notable influence on the technique and style of many harpsichordists of second half of the twentieth century, partly because of his recordings and editions, but also because of his teaching. His students included such leading harpsichordists as Bob van Asperen, Lisa Crawford, Alan Curtis, Richard Egarr, John Gibbons, Pierre Hantaï, Ketil Haugsand, Ton Koopman, Charlotte Mattax, Davitt Moroney, Edward Parmentier, Christophe Rousset, Andreas Staier, Skip Sempé, Colin Tilney, Glen Wilson, and Jeannette Sorrell (founder of Apollo's Fire). Rousset states that a session with Leonhardt "liberated me at the keyboard." (Ibid.)


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