Christopher Hogwood CBE

10 September 1941 – 24 September 2014

Christopher HogwoodIt was with great sadness that we heard the news of Christopher Hogwood’s recent death. Chris was an important supporter of Handel House. As a board member of the Trust in the late 1990s he was part of that key group of people that pioneered and championed the creation of Handel House; but even after he stood down as a trustee he remained closely involved with the House in a variety of capacities.

His musical input was important; in 2004 he gave a delightful clavichord masterclass which was memorable not only for the exploration of this intimate quiet instrument in Handel’s own Brook Street music room but also for the student who decided she wanted to play the harpsichord instead. Not ideal for a clavichord class – but Chris dealt with the situation deftly! And in 2010 he gave the Stanley Sadie memorial lecture focusing on the changing ways of performing Handel with some tremendous musical examples.

But his interest in the House went beyond music; he was keen to see it thrive and was a stalwart member of the supporter’s group, the Handel House Circle. Through his association with the Handel and Haydn Society in Boston, where he was music director, he helped significantly with our American fundraising efforts. He attended and “speechified,” as he put it, at numerous fundraising events. On one occasion, after he had virtually stopped playing in public, he was persuaded to play the harpsichord at Handel House by some potential donors who made a six figure gift.

The aesthetic of the House was important to him and he encouraged us to think about paintings and instruments that would add to the House as well as connecting us to people he thought could help.  To this end in 2009 he curated one of our most important exhibitions Handel Reveal’d and contributed to the catalogue. It marked the anniversary of 250th anniversary of Handel’s death and was so popular that elements of the exhibit are still on display today. The double act of Ruth Rendell and Chris speaking at the press opening for the exhibition was a memorable morning for everyone who attended.

Chris would make unexpected visits to Brook Street, on one occasion appearing between rehearsals of the double bill of Dido and Aeneas and Acis and Galatea at the Royal Opera House. He had strolled from Covent Garden to Mayfair just to have a moment of reflection and to take the opportunity to sign copies of his seminal Handel biography on sale in the gift shop, a lovely additional treat for an unsuspecting purchaser.

His support and enthusiasm for Handel and Handel House will be much missed.

Sarah Bardwell (Director) and Alistair Stranack (Chairman)