Re-inventing lost expressive tools of the past and creating a new “persona” as a performing musician

Johannes Leertouwer

During my research into the nineteenth-century performance practices of Brahms’s orchestral music, I learned to appreciate expressive tools and styles of performing romantic repertoire that were directly opposed to what I had preached and practiced before my research project. I believe that historical research should question the foundations of the definition of ‘correct’ performance of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century repertoire, which dominates both mainstream and HIP performances. Such research may pave the way for alternative ways of performing this music. In my presentation, I will describe the research project and the role the project orchestra played in it and talk about my changing artistic priorities as a result of my research. Finally, I will talk about my project’s place in today’s performance practices and the world of higher musical education.

Johannes Leertouweris chief conductor and artistic director of the period instrument orchestra De Nieuwe Philharmonie Utrecht. As first violin of the Narratio String Quartet, he plays all Beethoven and Brahms quartets on gut strings. In 2021 he was appointed professor of Historically Informed Performance Practice at Seoul National University, South Korea. After having had a violin class at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam for over thirty years, he now guest conducts the Philharmonic Fridays, coaches chamber music ensembles, and teaches master electives about the history of the orchestra and style in performance.