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 Leonhardt, he recorded (1972–90) historically informed interpretations of the almost 200 surviving cantatas of J. S. Bach. In the 1970s he also conducted a cycle of Monteverdi 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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