Harnoncourt, Nikolaus

Harnoncourt, Nikolaus

(Johann Nikolaus Graf de la Fontaine und d'Harnoncourt-Unverzagt), 1929–2016, Austrian conductor, b. Berlin, studied Vienna Music Academy (1948–52). A pioneer in the early-music movement, he began his career (1952) as a cellist with the Vienna Symphony. In 1953 he and his wife, Alice Hoffelner Harnoncourt, a violinist, founded the Concentus Musicus Wien, which uses period instruments and specializes in the performance of Renaissance and Baroque compositions. With Gustav LeonhardtLeonhardt, Gustav,
1928–2012, Dutch harpsicordist, organist, and conductor, studied Schola Cantorum, Basel, Switzerland (1947–50). Leonhardt researched Baroque performing styles and was a key figure in the revival of 17th- and 18th-century music played on original
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, he recorded (1972–90) historically informed interpretations of the almost 200 surviving cantatas of J. S. BachBach, Johann Sebastian
, 1685–1750, German composer and organist, b. Eisenach; one of the greatest and most influential composers of the Western world. He brought polyphonic baroque music to its culmination, creating masterful and vigorous works in almost every musical
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. In the 1970s he also conducted a cycle of MonteverdiMonteverdi, Claudio
, 1567–1643, Italian composer; first great figure in the history of opera. His earliest published works, a set of three motifs, appeared when he was only 15.
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 operas. He widened his repertoire during the 1980s to include post-Baroque music, and began to conduct symphony and opera orchestras, developing close relationships with Amsterdam's Concertgebouw Orchestra (where he debuted in 1975) and the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics. He retired in 2015. Harnoncourt wrote several books on music.
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