Remembering Maestro Raymond Leppard

Maestro Raymond Leppard, former artist-in-residence for the Music Department at the University of Indianapolis died on Oct. 22. While he was known for a variety of accomplishments around the world, Leppard impacted the community, faculty and students at UIndy at the events he participated in, Professor of Music, Director for Artistic Initiatives  Richard Ratliff said. 

Leppard spent 25 seasons as artist-in-residence, according to UIndy Intercom. 

While he was not often seen to the public, Ratliff said that he connected with Leppard and got to know his charming and personable side that he did not show to strangers. 

“Raymond Leppard was a kind and generous artist who used his remarkable talent to bring world-class musical experiences to students, faculty and staff, as well as to communities throughout the Indianapolis region,” University President Robert Manuel said to Intercom. “Through his legacy, the University of Indianapolis celebrates the shared values of artistic exploration, professional growth and a dedication to creating unique learning environments that prepare students for a lifetime of success.”

After helping restore operatic baroque style music to concert halls after World War II, Leppard began his career in the music field, according to The New York Times’ obituary for Leppard. Leppard managed to bring the bare bones of the simplistic operatic pieces from the 16th century to life by adding multiple orchestral elements to each restored piece, according to The NY Times. 

He then went on to conduct with the English Chamber Orchestra starting in the early 1960s, who he produced numerous records with, and in summation of his career, Leppard produced over 200 records, according to The NY Times. 

But because of politics in Britain among other reasons, he came to America in 1976, and did not become a U.S. citizen until 2003, according to The NY Times.

At first Leppard was opposed to the idea of living in Indianapolis, so he refused a job offer as Music Director at the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Ratliff said. Leppard later ended up taking the job. 

“By making Indianapolis his permanent home, Maestro Leppard was able to serve as a champion of classical music in this city, conducting concerts, teaching, and inspiring others to cherish the music he loved,” CEO of Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra James Johnson said. “He put an indelible stamp on this city and this orchestra. We will think of him fondly every time we hear or perform one of his favorite works. Our thoughts are with Maestro Leppard’s family and close friends as they grieve the passing of this generous artist and wonderful man.”

Leppard earned five Grammy Awards and numerous European music awards, making him a well-known name in the music industry, Ratliff said. 

The first encounter the two had, not conversation, was in the early 1980s at the ISO and Ratliff said he still remembers the piece Leppard  conducted and how he conducted it.

Ratliff said to the music department at UIndy and anyone who loves music, Leppard’s performances were something special. The public knew he was a respected figure, Ratliff said. Leppard received an honorary degree from UIndy in 1991 and an honorary alumni award in 2014, according to Intercom. 

“We saw him basically once a year, so it’s not like he was a presence all year round, but in the last dozen years, it’s been a tradition to have him do the opening concert of our Faculty [Artist] Series,” Ratliff said. “So we would have a small orchestra and he would come and conduct that one concert, and the hall would always be very full, and oftentimes, the concert would end with the choir joining the orchestra in something like the Schubert G Major Mass or the Hadyn Saint Nicholas Mass or the Mozart Vespers.”