Raymond Leppard

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Raymond Leppard

Raymond John Leppard

(1927-08-11)11 August 1927
London, England
Died22 October 2019(2019-10-22) (aged 92)
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
EducationTrinity College, Cambridge

Raymond John Leppard CBE (11 August 1927 – 22 October 2019) was a British-American conductor, harpsichordist, composer and editor. In the 1960s, he played a prime role in the rebirth of interest in Baroque music; in particular, he was one of the first major conductors to perform Baroque opera, reviving works by Claudio Monteverdi and Francesco Cavalli. He conducted operas at major international opera houses and festivals, including the Glyndebourne Festival where he led the world premiere of Nicholas Maw's The Rising of the Moon, the Metropolitan Opera and the Royal Opera House. He composed film scores such as Lord of the Flies and Alfred the Great.

Life and career[edit]

Leppard was born in London and grew up in Bath, Somerset,[1] where he was educated at the City of Bath Boys' School, now known as the Beechen Cliff School. He studied harpsichord and viola at Trinity College, Cambridge,[1] and became interested in choral conducting.[2]

In 1952, he made his London debut at Wigmore Hall in London, conducted his own Leppard Ensemble.[1] He became closely associated with the Goldsbrough Orchestra, which became the English Chamber Orchestra in 1960.[1] Also, he gave recitals as harpsichordist, and was a fellow of Trinity College and a lecturer in music from 1958 to 1968. He retired from his post as Director of Music at Trinity College in 1968.[2]

His interest in early music prompted him to prepare several realisations of scores from the period. While musicologists considered his editions controversial, his performances were important for introducing early operatic masterpieces to the general public. In 1962, he prepared a performing score of Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea for a production at the Glyndebourne Festival.[2] He subsequently edited Monteverdi's other surviving stage works, L'Orfeo and Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria, as well as operas by Francesco Cavalli and Jean-Philippe Rameau.[1][3] He conducted several of his realisations both in the theatre and in the recording studio.[3]

In 1963, he composed the original film score for Peter Brook's Lord of the Flies, the adaptation of William Golding's novel.[1] His other film work included composing the score to Alfred the Great (1969), and arranging the music for Laughter in the Dark (1969) and The Hotel New Hampshire (1984).

In November 1969, he made his American debut conducting the Westminster Choir and the New York Philharmonic,[2] at which occasion he also appeared as soloist in Joseph Haydn's Harpsichord Concerto in D major. In 1973 he became principal conductor of the BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra in Manchester (now the BBC Philharmonic), a position he retained until 1980.[2]

Leppard conducted Britten's Billy Budd at the Metropolitan Opera[1] and the San Francisco Opera, as well as Gluck's Alceste and Handel's Alcina at the New York City Opera. He also conducted at the Royal Opera House in London, in Paris, at the Hamburg State Opera, the Santa Fe Opera, in Stockholm and Geneva.[2]

In September 1986 Raymond Leppard conducted the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Singers and Chorus at the Last Night of the Proms in the Royal Albert Hall, London.

At Glyndebourne, he conducted the world premiere of Nicholas Maw's The Rising of the Moon.[1] From 1987 to 2001, Leppard was the music director of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra,[1] where he collaborated with concertmaster Hidetaro Suzuki.[4] From 2004 to 2006, he served as music advisor to the Louisville Orchestra.[2]

In 1973, the Republic of Italy conferred upon him the title of Commendatore della Republica Italiana for services to Italian music. He received an Honorary Degree of a Doctor of Letters by the University of Bath in 1973.[5] He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in 1983.[1] Leppard became an American citizen in 2003.[2] He died in Indianapolis on 22 October 2019.[1][6] He bequeathed his extensive archive of opera realisations to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Raymond Leppard on Music: An Anthology of Critical and Personal Writings Pro/Am Music Resources, 1993, ISBN 978-0-91-248396-2


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Tsioulcas, Anastasia (22 October 2019). "Conductor and Composer Raymond Leppard - A Champion of the Old and the New - Has Died". NPR. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Raymond Leppard, champion of Baroque opera, and so much more has died". Gramophone. 23 October 2019. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  3. ^ a b Leppard, Raymond: Raymond Leppard on Music: An Anthology of Critical and Personal Writings, ProAm Music Resources, 1993
  4. ^ Bongiovanni, Domenica (22 October 2019). "Longtime Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra conductor Raymond Leppard dies". Indianapolis Star. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  5. ^ "Honorary graduates, 1970 to 1979". University of Bath. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  6. ^ Wakin, Daniel J. (22 October 2019). "Raymond Leppard, Versatile Maestro Who Led Baroque Revival, Dies at 92". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 October 2019.

External links[edit]

Cultural offices
Preceded by Organist and Master of the Choristers of Trinity College, Cambridge
Succeeded by
Preceded by Music Directors, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
Succeeded by