Conductor, musicologist and early music exponent Christopher Hogwood, an A.D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell, died Sept. 24 at his home in Cambridge, England, after a long illness. He was 73.
“Christopher Hogwood was a charismatic, brilliant performer and scholar [and] an inspiring and generous colleague to many of us at Cornell,” said University Organist Annette Richards, professor of music, who was the primary host and organizer of Hogwood’s visit to campus last fall. “He also was an enthusiastic teacher and took great interest in young musicians and students.”
Hogwood was a professor of music at Gresham College, London, and an emeritus honorary professor of music at the University of Cambridge. An influential figure in early music performance and practice, he strove to discover and recreate the composer’s intentions. He was equally active in 19th- and 20th-century neoclassical repertoire and was an accomplished musician on harpsichord and clavichord, working with leading symphony orchestras and opera companies around the world.
He founded the Academy of Ancient Music in 1973, served as its music director until 2006 and made more than 200 recordings with the period-instrument orchestra, including the complete symphonies of Mozart and Beethoven.
As a musicologist, his work included a 1988 biography of Handel and a re-editing of Mendelssohn’s overtures and symphonies. His research interests also extended to the history of instruments and technology, connections between music and the visual arts, cultural studies and music in society.
Named an A.D. White Professor-at-Large in 2012, Hogwood was one of 17 active professors-at-large, prominent scholars and artists invited to visit Cornell at least twice during a six-year term to enhance the intellectual and cultural life of the university through public programs and engagement with students and faculty.
“We usually host a spectrum of superstars in their field, but they’re not always generally known to the public. But Chris Hogwood’s name is on my CD of Mozart’s Piano Concertos 17 and 20,” said A.D. White Professors-at-Large program chair Robert Raguso, a professor and department chair of Neurobiology and Behavior.
During his first extended visit in October 2013, Hogwood gave a public lecture, “The Past Is a Foreign Country: Why Making Music Matters”; participated in a symposium on collections for performance, study and research; led a music seminar on historically informed performance; and led open rehearsals and master classes with the Cornell Chamber Orchestra and Les Petits Violons de Cornell.
“He was so accessible. He was an easygoing, unpretentious guy, and I thought it interesting in [his] BBC obituary that the musicians that worked with him thought the same thing,” Raguso said. “His visit was delightful for everybody. He interacted with the students really well, and we were looking forward to his return. People like him make our program really special, and we’re fortunate to have had him even for one visit.”
Richards said Hogwood was “thrilled to have been appointed as A.D. White Professor-at-Large [and] planned to make the most of his trips here. His death is a great loss for us and for the many people he touched worldwide in the course of his extraordinary career.”
Hogwood also came to Cornell in 2011 as a juror at the inaugural Westfield International Fortepiano Competition.