Christopher Hogwood, who has died aged 73, was the founder of the Academy of Ancient Music, an ensemble which sought to perform early classical music on period instruments as the composer intended and as audiences were first presumed to have heard it.
Hogwood, a conductor, harpsichordist and scholar for whom an “authentic sound” was paramount, co-founded the Early Music Consort, which focused on medieval and Renaissance music, in 1967. The academy, which he established in 1973 as “as a sort of refugee operation for those players of period instruments who wanted to escape conductors”, initially focused on 17th- and 18th-century music.
One of the group's significant early achievements was its 1980 recording of Handel's Messiah, with soprano Emma Kirkby and countertenor James Bowman.
Peter G Davis, writing in the
New York Times
, said it was “like no ‘Messiah’ ever heard before in this century”, a performance that embodied the aesthetic championed by Hogwood: buoyant playing on gut strings with minimal vibrato.
Hogwood's more than 200 recordings include the complete Mozart symphonies and the complete Mozart piano concertos, with pianist Robert Levin. He was once referred to as "the Von Karajan of early music" – a reference to Herbert Von Karajan, who in addition to being one of the 20th century's most important conductors was a famously imperious personality. But Pavlo Beznosiuk, a member of the Academy of Ancient Music since 1984, disagreed; in fact, he said: "Anyone less like Von Karajan is hard to imagine." Hogwood, he added, "was very collaborative and always happy to defer to the musicians if they had a better idea".
He had a particular affinity for Mendelssohn and was scheduled to conduct the composer's Elijah in March 2015. In 2008 he became director emeritus of the Academy of Ancient Music, succeeded by harpsichordist Richard Egarr.
In addition to period ensembles, Hogwood led orchestras, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Chicago Symphony. He also wrote several books, including a biography of Handel, and prepared many scholarly editions of scores.
Christopher Jarvis Haley Hogwood
was born in Nottingham, the son of Haley and
. His father was a physicist, his mother a secretary for the International Labor Organisation. He studied literature and music at Pembroke College, Cambridge and held academic positions at the Royal Academy of Music, King’s College London, Cambridge University, Harvard University, Cornell, and Gresham College, London. He is survived by four siblings, Francis, Charlotte, Kate, and Jeremy.