Bruckner's 5th Symphony

Interview with Matthias Giesen

Having founded Concentus Musicus Wien together with his wife, violinist Alice Harnoncourt, in 1953, Nikolaus Harnoncourt revolutionised Baroque historical performance practice. He first appeared with the Concertgebouworkest in 1975.

His interpretations have contributed greatly to the performance tradition of Bach’s St Matthew and St John Passions. Later, he led a number of spectacular opera productions in Amsterdam, including Mozart’s Da Ponte operas. Over the years, he steadily expanded his repertoire of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert to include Schumann, Brahms, Dvořák, Smetana, Bruckner and even such composers as Berg and Gershwin.

He was appointed honorary guest conductor of the Concertgebouworkest in October 2000. Harnoncourt has conducted opera performances at the renowned opera houses of Milan, Zurich and Vienna. He also made guest appearances with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. In addition, he has taught at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. Many of the recordings he has made with the Concertgebouworkest have won awards.

Harnoncourt received the Erasmus Prize in 1980 and an honorary doctorate from the University of Edinburgh in 1987. Other honours include the prestigious Polar Music Prize, the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize and the Kyoto Prize. Harnoncourt was made a Knight of the Order of the Lion of the Netherlands in December 2006 for his contribution to Dutch musical life in general and to the Concertgebouworkest in particular.

With this performance of Bruckner's Fifth Symphony, he bid farewell to the Concertgebouworkest after a collaboration spanning thirty-eight years and 276 concerts. Nikolaus Harnoncourt passed away on 5 March 2016, aged 86.

Related videos