Gustav Leonhardt (1928-2011)

He approached his harpsichord with the air of a mortician.

He played, gaunt and aquiline, senza baldanza (i.e. without any unnecessary gesture, without a hint of emotion.)

He didn’t like too much Beethoven’s Ninth (“That ‘Ode to Joy’, talk about vulgarity! And the text! Completely puerile!”)

He drove a Alfa Romeo.

He intented to restore the harpsichord to the simple, original sound, “rather salt than sugar”, that Johann Sebastian Bach had written for.

His defintive recording in 1953 of Bach’s”The Art of Fugue”

The search for authenticity often ended in a mystery: who knew how Bach, the greatest musical genius who had ever lived, had played?

(Cf. The Economist, 28/01/12)

Gustav Leonhardt plays the role of J. S. Bach in the movie “The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach”

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