born in Vienna in 1955, studied dramaturgy, German and Romance literatures. She has published numerous articles on music, portraits of artists and reviews. She editor of the official catalog of the Salzburg Festival and lives as a freelance journalist in Vienna.Read more
A highly successful biography, this book by the Viennese music journalist and author Monika Mertl presents the personality, artistic intentions and unconventional development of Nikolaus Harnoncourt, the famous Austrian conductor, from cellist to conductor, from ancient music specialist to universalist with a distinctive image. More than 15.000 copies of the original German edition, published in autumn 1999, have already been sold. Beyond the conventional biography, Mertl’s book is an invitation to meet the man behind the brilliant facade of artistic success, to reflect on music as well as on questions of partnership, family, religion, philosophy and humanity.
Nowadays this is all taken for granted. The classical music market is populated by whole droves of ensembles producing "original" sound, young musicians demonstrate their mastery on period instruments, and the term "Klangrede" [music as speech] has long become everyday usage. In 1953, when the cellist Nikolaus Harnoncourt and his wife Alice, a violinist, began a private artistic experiment together with a handful of interested colleagues, Early Music was uncharted territory. For four years, Harnoncourt and his friends rehearsed in their living-room, researching musical material and instruments, techniques and sounds until they were ready to venture into public performance. Insatiable curiosity, unseen assiduity and inexhaustible devotion to an idea whose success was unforeseeable characterised the early days, during which the Concentus Musicus of Vienna developed into an ensemble which had a determining influence on period style.
This book is intended to bring to life fifty years of adventure, during which a conspiracy of highly specialised musicians set new standards with each stage of their development, making interpretative history. Milan Turković, a member of Concentus, and Monika Mertl, Harnoncourt's biographer, examine all these various events in a balanced view from both inside and out. A CD with commentary by Nikolaus Harnoncourt accompanies the text.