Meeting the virtuoso David Munrow
March 1, 2008 8:20pm--
Christopher Hogwood was for many years the resident keyboard player for the Early Music Consort of London under the director David Munrow, an unparalleled genius when it came to early wind instruments. I remember when the EMC came to perform at Royce Hall, UCLA many years ago and the place was packed to the rafters. Munrow was onstage with countertenor James Bowman, viol player Oliver Brookes, lutenist James Tyler, and Hogwood who, when he wasn't playing keyboard, played little drums and other percussion instruments. All these men were true stars of early music in the mid 1970s.
When they came out on stage, Munrow had an array of forty or fifty wind instruments lying on the floor around his chair, and when a piece of music would end, he would just lean down and pick up another instrument and begin to play—a truly amazing artist.
The entire performance was utterly stunning. About ten days later I went to the Mark Taper Forum of the L.A. Music Center to see a performance of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, directed by Neville Marriner. Who should be in the audience but David Munrow? I waked over to him immediately, shook his hand and congratulated him on the Consort's performance at UCLA. He was shy but still gracious.
About a week and a half later he was dead, his life taken by his own hand at the age of 33. I met Hogwood a few years later but he was quite reluctant to talk about the whole thing. The only thing he would say about the Early Music Consort was that it was sort of like a three-ring circus.. For those who are curious, there is an audio of an interview between myself and Hogwood, recorded about 2003 when his ensemble The Academy of Ancient Music came to perform all-Mozart concerts with fortepianist Robert Levin. .
Source reference D.O.s Blog newmillenniumrecords (edited) Ref David Munrow Forum