Alan Curtis (1934-2015)
16th July 2015
A student of Gustav Leonhardt in Amsterdam, he became a professor in the Music faculty of University of California, Berkeley from 1960, writing mainly on keyboard music and opera, including a book on Sweelinck. He took Il Complesso Barocco to most of the important houses of Europe and the Americas. As well as recording many of the above-mentioned dramatic works, his skills at the harpsichord may be heard in works by the Couperin and Bach families, Scarlatti and Haydn.
His endless enthusiasm for resurrecting or throwing new light on forgotten, often surprising, works of the period was perhaps his greatest contribution to music. Novello’s association with him covers his editions of operas and oratorios produced over a period of more than twenty-five years: Pietro Antonio Cesti’s Il Tito (written for Innsbrück in 1665 and including an appearance by a sea monster); the Florentine Francesco Bartolomeo Conti’s David (1724); Handel’s Fernando (later rewritten as Sosarme); Rameau’s final opera-ballet, La Naissance d’Osiris, and Domenico Scarlatti’s Tolomeo ed Alessandro (none present at the marvellous performance in 2009 at the Théatre des Champs-Elysées could forget the singing of Véronique Gens, perfectly cast as the Macedonian warrior). Somewhat more widely referenced Curtis editions are Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea and Il ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria.
He was formerly married to the equally pioneering baroque dance historian, Shirley Wynne, who taught for many years at Ohio State University and died in 2013.