Christopher Hogwood
In Memoriam 1941-2014

The Handel and Haydn Society (H+H) is deeply saddened by the death of its conductor laureate, Christopher Hogwood, who served as Handel and Haydn Society Artistic Director from 1986 to 2001. Christopher Hogwood profoundly changed the direction and vision of this venerable institution, and added tremendously to its renown and international profile.

By completing its evolution in 1989 into an exclusively period-instrument orchestra and chorus, Hogwood ushered in a new and exciting chapter in the history of this 200-year-old organization. His 15-year tenure abounds with great artistic successes, from a splendid collaboration with the Mark Morris Dance Group in a production of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, which toured to the Edinburgh Festival and elsewhere, to unique jazz partnerships with the Dave Brubeck Ensemble, Chick Corea, and the Marian McPartland Trio, among others.

“We are simply heartbroken by this news,” says H+H Executive Director and CEO Marie-Hélène Bernard. “Chris left a permanent footprint on this organization. We were very much anticipating his return in March to lead the Mendelssohn Elijah during the H+H Bicentennial. It’s a milestone that I know meant a great deal to him.”

Born in Nottingham, England on September 10, 1941, Christopher Jarvis Haley Hogwood studied music and classical literature at Pembroke College, Cambridge. His early music influences included conductor and harpsichordist Raymond Leppard and musicologist and harpsichordist Thurston Dart. Dart inspired David Munrow and Hogwood who became the founders of the Early Music Consort of London in 1967. Hogwood then revived the Academy of Ancient Music, a group originally begun in 1726, to study the “old” music of its day. Under Hogwood’s direction, the “new” Academy of Ancient Music performed and recorded on period instruments. He was first approached by the Handel and Haydn Society in 1985 and became its Artistic Director in 1986.

Hogwood began his tenure with a powerful first impression: a Mozart weekend, centered around the Requiem, followed by H+H’s first period-instrument Messiah and a spring full of Bach, Handel, Mozart, Purcell, and Haydn. During his tenure, Boston also heard Handel operas (Giulio Cesare, Semele, Acis and Galatea, and, later, Ariodante) and in 1999, the world premiere of Dan Welcher’s JFK: The Voice of Peace, narrated by David McCullough, which had been commissioned by H+H.

“It was thrilling to work with Chris,” says veteran H+H principal flutist Christopher Krueger. “He brought so many new ideas and so much energy to the projects, that one couldn’t help but feel swept up in a new wave of music-making. Chris was a great leader, but he was always extremely human, always a colleague; he never put himself above any of the musicians he worked with; he seemed to be delighted by all of us,” continues Krueger. “He was a good friend.”

After leaving the Handel and Haydn Society in 2001, Hogwood became Emeritus Director of the Academy of Ancient Music, the orchestra he founded in 1973, during the 2007–2008 Season. In addition to his close association with the Kammerorchester Basel, Hogwood was also a regular guest with the Tonhalle Zurich, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, and Athens Camerata. A prolific musician, he made over 250 recordings, including the first-ever complete Mozart symphonies on period instruments.

“Although he made his reputation recording Mozart, Chris was perhaps most passionate about Mendelssohn,” says Mary Deissler, H+H CEO at the time of Hogwood’s tenure. “He felt Mendelssohn could give Mozart and even Beethoven a good run for the money. In 2000 he led the monumental Elijah for the 100th anniversary of Symphony Hall, and it was one of his proudest moments with us.”

A writer and musicologist, Hogwood also edited the music of Mendelssohn and C.P.E. Bach. He was the chair of the editorial board of C.P.E. Bach: The Complete Works, which is published by the Packard Humanities Institute. Hogwood’s personal volumes include Handel: Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks (Cambridge University Press), published in 2005.

H+H will dedicate the performances of Mendelssohn Elijah, to be conducted by former Music Director Grant Llewellyn on March 6 and 8, 2015 at Symphony Hall, to Christopher Hogwood.

From Harry Christophers, H+H Artistic Director: “As founder and conductor of the Academy of Ancient Music, Chris set the world alight and was very much at the forefront of the period music movement. His inspirational appointment as Artistic Director of H+H in 1986 broke new boundaries. By turning the orchestra into a period orchestra, he laid the foundations for excellence in scholarship and stylish playing. He redefined our mission–to make the old sound new. We will miss him greatly.”