Art is not a nice extra – it is the umbilical cord which connects us to the Divine, it guarantees our being human.
- Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Today marks the birthday of a remarkable cellist and conductor. Nikolaus Harnoncourt, born in Berlin and raised in Graz, began his career as a student and orchestral cellist in Vienna. He and his wife Alice grew increasingly interested in performing of Renaissance and baroque repertoire using the instruments and performance practices of the period. They founded the Concentus Musicus Wien ensemble in 1953 to explore the possibilities. Harnoncourt began collecting antique instruments and writing articles on the ideal of 'Music as Rhetoric' commonly encountered in the writings of seventeenth and eighteenth-century theorists.
And the rest, as they say, is history. In the 1980s Harnoncourt's pioneering approach to music of the past became the norm. He has been widely sought after as a conductor of opera and symphonies. Today he is renowned for performances of daring originality and perceptive musicality. His interpretations combine heart and mind in a way that identify him as a true servant of his art.