Raymond Leppard, the English conductor, harpsichordist, composer and scholar, has died at the age of 92. A key figure in the revival of early music, he is best known for reintroducing audiences to 17th-century works by the likes of Monteverdi and Cavalli.
Born in London on August 11, 1927, he entered Trinity College, Cambridge in 1945 on a choral scholarship, where he also studied the harpsichord and viola. His first experience of conducting came with the Cambridge Philharmonic Society, which he continued to lead after graduating. His professional debut came in 1953 when he conducted his own ensemble, the Leppard Chamber Orchestra, at London’s Wigmore Hall.
Leppard soon became known for his performances of music from the Baroque and Classical eras, often conducting from the harpsichord. He made his Covent Garden debut in 1959 with a production of Handel’s Samson, and not long after began creating performance editions of Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppeaand operas by Cavalli. He conducted the latter’s L’Ormindoat Glyndebourne in 1967 in a production by Peter Hall starring Janet Baker, its first known performance since 1644.
Leppard was closely associated with the English Chamber Orchestra, with whom he...