Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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Remembering Frans Brüggen (1934-2014)

Fri Aug 15 2014

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Frans Bruggen

All of us at the OAE were very sad to hear the news of Emeritus Conductor Franz Brüggen, who passed away at the age of 79 earlier this week – a conductor who has had an association with the OAE almost since the Orchestra’s inception.

OAE double bassist and Orchestra Vice Chair Cecelia Bruggemeyer commented:

“Frans was deeply respected by us as a solo performer, conductor and pioneer in the Historically Informed Period world. He has been an important part of our orchestra’s story since he first conducted us in 1988. Rigorous and exacting, his spark and energy was as much in evidence as ever in our last performance with him of Haydn Symphonies, in spite of his health beginning to fail. It is a symbolic moment when a character of such knowledge and inspiration passes; the end of an era, and we pass on our condolences to his family.”

OAE Chief Executive Stephen Carpenter comments:

“Frans Brüggen was a vitally important influence on the OAE from the Orchestra’s earliest days. He was one of the first conductors to whom the founder player members of the OAE turned in the late 1980s when it sought to work with the very best exponents of historically informed performance. And there could scarcely be a more informed and inspirational performer than Frans. First there were concerts, then came recordings and foreign tours. We were delighted when, in 2007, Frans agreed to become one of the OAE’s Emeritus Conductors, and there was a palpable spirit of old friends coming together when he conducted his last concert with us in the QEH in November 2011 , although, at the time, of course we did not know it would be the last time that we would be with him. The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment is greatly saddened at his passing. We extend our sincere condolences to his wife Machtelt and family, and hope that they, as we, will be able to draw some comfort from the extraordinary legacy that he has left both in terms of memories of many performances and a large recording catalogue.”

Lisa Beznosiuk, OAE Principal Flute and founder member:

“Like many OAE players I am extremely sad at the passing of Frans Brüggen. His first concert with us was an overwhelming, blistering account of his favourite work, Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony. I will never forget the unique and inspired way he worked with the wind section on that occasion as he opened up our ears and imagination, taking us to new places in the music and creating subtle blends of colour. Frans’ formidable musical intellect and simple human passion seemed to bring us closer to Beethoven – exhilarating, frightening…and unforgettable”


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  • I too recall what may have been the same performance as Lisa (@ QEH?) of the Eroica- extraordinarily exciting. He was surely one of the great pioneers of period performance practice, along with Gustav Leonhardt. But his performances were full of passion.

    Jonathan Neil-Smith Fri Aug 15 2014
  • Here is an example of Bruggen’s mastery from an era before we encountered him in the OAE:


    Thank you, Franz.

    Tony Pay, principal clarinet OAE

    Tony Pay Mon Aug 18 2014