Alice Harnoncourt

Classical violinist Alice Harnoncourt – born Alice Hoffelner on September 26, 1930, in Vienna, Austria – was a pioneer in the historically informed performance movement, which focused on faithfully recreating the approach, manner, and style of the musical era in which the work was originally composed. This included performing the music on period instruments. The young Alice Hoffelner studied piano, violin, and other string instruments, specializing in baroque violin. During her studies, she met conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt, whom she would marry in 1953, the same year that they founded the Concentus Musicus Wien. This ensemble performed on period instruments, which allowed them to remain faithful to the scores. Their work in historically informed performances brought a renewed interest in early music. Alice Harnoncourt occupied the first violin position at the Concentus Musicus Wien until 1985 before stepping back as second violinist until she retired in 2015. Her husband, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, died on March 5, 2016 at the age of 86. Many of her recorded works were performed with Concentus Musicus Wien including Vivaldi: Le Quattro Stagioni (1977), Bach: Violinkonzerte (1982), Vivaldi: 12 Concerti Op. 8 Mit Originalinstrumenten (1984), and many others. She also recorded with Bob van Asperen, Kees Boeke and Wouter Möller, and joined her husband when he conducted the Zurich Opera Orchestra. She was honored with many awards during her career including the Ehrenzeichen des Landes Steiermark of Styria (2003), two Echo Klassik awards (2006), and the Gold Medal from the City of Vienna (2011). She also received several awards alongside her husband including the Ehrenzeichen für Verdienste um das Land Wien (2011). Beginning in 2016, Alice Harnoncourt devoted her energy into managing the archives of the Concentus Musicus Wien. Alice Harnoncourt performed on two violins by Austrian luthier Jakob Stainer, designed in 1658 and 1665. She also played the viola d'amore and the piccolo violin. Her daughter Elisabeth von Magnus became a renowned mezzo-soprano and alto. Alice Harnoncourt died on July 20, 2022, at the age of 91.

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