Raymnond John Leppard

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Leppard, Raymond (John)

Leppard, Raymond (John), eminent English conductor; b. London, Aug. 11, 1927. He studied harpsichord and viola at Trinity Coll., Cambridge (M.A., 1952), where he also was active as a choral conductor and served as music director of the Cambridge Phil. Soc. In 1952 he made his London debut as a conductor, and then conducted his own Leppard Ensemble. He became closely associated with the Goldsbrough Orch., which became the English Chamber Orch. in 1960. He also gave recitals as a harpsichordist, and was a Fellow of Trinity Coll. and a lecturer on music at his alma mater (1958–68). His interest in early music prompted him to prepare several realizations of scores from that period; while his eds. provoked controversy, they had great value in introducing early operatic masterpieces to the general public. His first realization, Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea, was presented at the Glynde-bourne Festival under his direction in 1962. He subsequently prepared performing eds. of Monteverdi’s Orfeo (1965) and II ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (1972), and of Cavalli’s Messa concertata (1966), L’Ormindo (1967), La Calisto (1969), L’Egisto (1974), and L’Orione (1980). During this period, he made appearances as a guest conductor with leading European opera houses, orchs., and festivals. On Nov. 4, 1969, he made his U.S. debut conducting the Westminster Choir and N.Y. Phil., at which occasion he also appeared as soloist in the Haydn D-major Harpsichord Concerto. In 1973 he became principal conductor of the BBC Northern Sym. Orch. in Manchester, a position he retained until 1980. He made his U.S. debut as an opera conductor leading a performance of his ed. of L’Egisto at the Santa Fe Opera in 1974. Settling in the U.S. in 1976, he subsequently appeared as a guest conductor with the major U.S. orchs. and opera houses. On Sept. 19, 1978, he made his Metropolitan Opera debut in N.Y. conducting Billy Budd. He was principal guest conductor of the St. Louis Sym. Orch. (1984–90). From 1987 to 2001 he was music director of the Indianapolis Sym. Orch., thereafter its first conductor laureate. At the invitation of the Prince of Wales, he conducted his ed. of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas at London’s Buckingham Palace in 1988. He returned there in 1990 to conduct the 90th-birthday concert of the Queen Mother. On Jan. 27, 1991, he conducted a special concert of Mozart’s works with members of the N.Y. Phil, and the Juilliard Orch. at N.Y.’s Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center; telecast live to millions via PBS, it re-created a concert given by Mozart in Vienna on March 23, 1783, and celebrated his 235th birthday and the launching of Lincoln Center’s commemoration of the 200th anniversary of his death. In 1993 he conducted the Indianapolis Sym. Orch. on a major tour of Europe, visiting London, Birmingham, Frankfurt am Main, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Vienna, Munich, Geneva, and Zürich. In 1994 he was named artist-in- residence at the Univ. of Indianapolis. Leppard was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1983. As a composer, he produced film scores for Lord of the Flies (1963), Alfred the Great (1969), Laughter in the Dark (1969), Perfect Friday (1970), and Hotel New Hampshire (1985). He also orchestrated Schubert’s “Grand Duo” Sonata and conducted its first performance with the Indianapolis Sym. Orch. (Nov. 8, 1990). Although long associated with early music, Leppard has acquired mastery of a truly catholic repertoire, ranging from Mozart to Britten. His thoughtful views on performance practice are set forth in his book The Real Authenticity (London, 1988). T. Lewis ed. the vol. Raymond Leppard on Music (White Plains, N.Y, 1993), an anthology of critical and personal writings, with a biographical chronology and discography

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Leppard, Raymond (John) (b London, 1927). Eng.-born conductor, composer, harpsichordist, and musicologist (Amer. cit.). Début London 1952 and often cond. Goldsbrough Orch. (later ECO). CG début 1959 ( Handel's Solomon), Glyndebourne 1962; SW 1965. Prin. cond. BBC Northern SO 1973–80. Amer. (concert) début NY 1969, opera début Santa Fe 1974; NY Met 1978. Settled in USA 1976. Prin. guest cond. St Louis SO 1984–90, mus. dir. Indianapolis SO from 1987. Editorial realizations of Monteverdi's Ballo delle Ingrate (1958), L'incoronazione di Poppea (1962), Orfeo (1965), and Il ritorno d'Ulisse (1972), and of Cavalli's Messa Concertata (1966), Ormindo (1967), Calisto (1969), Egisto (1974), Orione (1980), also Magnificat (1970). These have been criticized on the grounds that they are harmonically too rich, musicologically too imprecise, contain too many transpositions, and too much music comp. by Leppard, but there is no doubt that they popularized baroque opera and paved the way for other, more austere, editions. Also effective cond. of standard orch. repertoire. CBE 1983. Wrote The Real Authenticity (London 1988).

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