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Christopher Hogwood, Early-Music Devotee, Dies at 73
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Christopher Hogwood, Early-Music Devotee, Dies at 73

By VIVIEN SCHWEITZER  SEPT. 25, 2014

Christopher Hogwood, whose Academy of Ancient Music was a key ensemble in the period-instrument movement, striving to perform early music as the composer intended and as audiences were first presumed to have heard it, died on Wednesday at his home in Cambridge, England. He was 73.

Rebecca Driver, a spokeswoman for the orchestra, said Mr. Hogwood had been ill for several months but did not specify the cause of death.

Mr. 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, but the paucity of information regarding historically accurate performance styles troubled him. 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 17- and 18th-century music.

While praised for their buoyancy and stylishness, his interpretations were also sometimes criticized as dry and unemotional.

One of the group’s significant early achievements was its 1980 recording of Handel’s “Messiah,” with the soprano Emma Kirkby and the 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 Mr. Hogwood: buoyant playing on gut strings with minimal vibrato.

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