Wednesday, November 25, 2009

H.C. Robbins Landon (1926-2009)

As the 200th anniversary year of Joseph Haydn nears its end, the composer's premier modern advocate, H.C. (Howard Chandler) Robbins Landon, has died at the age of 83.

A Boston-born musicologist who spent his career mostly in Europe, Robbins Landon wrote several definitive books on Haydn (as well as countless articles and liner notes for recordings) and advised generations of artists about performing the composer's music. He also conducted research and wrote on other composers and music of the classical period.

He was a leading player in the historical forensic research that identified the likely cause of Mozart's death in 1791 (prognosis: kidney failure), and prepared new performing editions of a number of classical works, notably Mozart's "Idomeneo" and Requiem.

His obituary, in The Telegraph:

Robbins Landon's "infectious enthusiasm for the subject under discussion, coupled with an encyclopedic memory and almost recklessly fluent delivery, allowed him to engage lay audiences in a way that few scholars are able," Barry Millington writes in The Guardian: