Richard Egarr, harpsichordist & music director

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music?

Music has always been my addiction, and there was never a question about being a musician. Having been through the Cathedral Chorister training at York and taking the natural route as an Organ Scholar to Cambridge, it was there that I encountered the ‘machine-that-goes-ping’ – the harpsichord. There was a quite good instrument in Clare Chapel where I was Organ Scholar, and my natural curiosity meant that I was soon exploring it with friends such as Andrew Manze.

In Autumn 2019, you will release a new edition and recording of Handel’s Brockes Passion with the Academy of Ancient Music. Which recordings are you most proud of from your career so far?

The Handel Organ Concertos with the AAM [Harmonia Mundi, HMU807446] are particularly fun I think. Also the Christopher Gibbons CD [Harmonia Mundi, HMU807551] – an important disc showing the genius of this great unknown Master. My solo recordings of Louis Couperin [Complete Keyboard Works, Harmonia Mundi, HMU907511/14] and Byrd [Linn, CKD518] are also particularly dear to me.

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

It’s a combination of desire, necessity and opportunity. It is important to balance new and exciting unknown repertoire with the great standard works that get bums on seats.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career?

Getting enough sleep…

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?

Without question the Wigmore Hall, Symphony Hall in Boston, and Leptis Magna in Libya where the AAM performed Dido and Aeneas in 2008/9.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

I think that might be performing Messiah in Beijing to an invited ‘closed’ audience in the old Catholic Church there. Quite an occasion.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

Investigate, challenge, commit and communicate – never stop developing and continually ask questions on all levels. Have the courage to do what you think is valid and exciting.

Most treasured possession:

Leopold Stokowski’s copy of the 1910 American edition of Hubert Parry’s Bach biography… in which Stokowski has pencilled comments on various works.


Richard Egarr brings a joyful sense of adventure and a keen, enquiring mind to all his music-making – whether conducting, directing from the keyboard, giving recitals, playing chamber-music, and indeed talking about music at every opportunity. Music Director of the Academy of Ancient Music since 2006, in September 2019 he adds two new responsibilities as Principal Guest Conductor of the Residentie Orkest in The Hague, Artistic Partner of the St Paul Chamber Orchestra in Minnesota. He will become Music Director Designate of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale in 20/21 and assume Music Directorship from 21/22. He was Associate Artist of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra 2011-2017, has conducted major symphonic orchestras such as London Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw and Philadelphia Orchestra, and guested with leading baroque ensembles such as Philharmonia Baroque and the Handel and Haydn Society. He regularly gives solo harpsichord recitals at the Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall and elsewhere.

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Photo: Marco Borggreve/Intermusica


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