Leon Bosch

Double Bassist & Conductor

Biography

General

 

Leon Bosch conducts chamber and symphonic ensembles around the world and is one of the few double bass players to direct concertos from the instrument. 

 

Having worked with the finest conductors for 30 years as a member of groups such as the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Philharmonia and Hallé, he learnt the repertoire and conductor’s craft from inside the orchestra, and finally made the transition to the podium in 2015, when he left Academy of St Martin in the Fields and went to study in St Petersburg with Alexander Polishchuk. Since then he has conducted orchestras across the UK, Europe, India, South Africa and Mozambique.

 

During his playing career, he performed concertos around the world and served as a guest with ensembles such as the Lindsays, Brodsky Quartet and Zukerman Chamber Players.

 

Leon is committed to rediscovering neglected music, as well as expanding and diversifying the double bass repertoire, and has recorded 16 CDs of wide-ranging programs, with more in planning. 

 

Throughout his career he has worked with leading composers, and his latest project is to revive the sonatina form for a program he will tour and record for Meridian Records in 2021. He also commissions chamber arrangements of well-known symphonic classics for his ensemble I Musicanti, and set up I Musicanti Publishing in order to distribute these works. 

 

He is professor of double bass at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London and gives masterclasses in the US, Europe, South Africa and the Far East. He has also served as double bass coach for youth orchestras including the I, Culture Orchestra, National Youth String Orchestra, Miagi Orchestra and Buskaid. He has contributed to programs on BBC Radio 3 and 4 and written for The Strad and Classical Music magazines.

 

Leon grew up in South Africa, the son of the political activist Jonas Fred Bosch, and spent time in a police cell for organising protests while at school. He left the apartheid regime behind to study at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. 

 

He became a British citizen in 2000. In recent years he has returned to his roots, musically, forming the Ubuntu Ensemble with other UK-based South African musicians, and commissioning music for the South African Double Bass project, the first CD of which was released in 2020. He also acts as a mentor for South African musicians worldwide.

 

Away from music, he runs marathons and ultra-marathons and holds a Master’s degree in Intelligence and International Relations from Salford University. 

 

Conductor and Soloist/Director

 

Leon Bosch conducts both chamber and symphonic ensembles and is one of the few double bass players in the world to direct concertos from the bass. 

 

He learnt the repertoire and craft of conducting during his 30 years playing in leading orchestras such as the Philharmonia, BBC Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and Hallé orchestras. This has given him command of a broad literature, with an emphasis on chamber repertoire from his time in the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. 

 

He left the ensemble in 2014 to make the transition to conducting, encouraged to do so by Sir Neville Marriner. He studied in London with Sian Edwards and St Petersburg with Alexander Polishchuk. Since then, he has conducted groups in the UK and around the world, including I Musicanti, Liverpool Mozart Orchestra, Wrexham Symphony Orchestra, Icknield Ensemble, Bombay Chamber Orchestra and Universiteit Stellenbosch Camerata. 

 

Chamber Musician

 

Since the age of 17 Leon Bosch has played chamber music as a guest with the greatest players and groups in the world, including Pinchas Zukerman, Elisabeth Leonskaja, Ivry Gitlis, the Lindsays and the Brodsky Quartet.

 

His work also reflects his South African roots and in 2017 he founded the Ubuntu Ensemble with other UK-based South African musicians, in the spirit of connection after which the ensemble is named. In 2021 the group will perform the world premiere of a quintet by South African composer Peter Klatzow for the African Concert Series at London’s Africa Centre.

 

Leon also founded I Musicanti, with which he performs neglected chamber works by great composers as well as great works by neglected composers, alongside like-minded musical friends. He has also commissioned chamber arrangements of well-known concertos for the group, including by Beethoven, Mozart, Mendelssohn and Bruch, adding significantly to the chamber music canon. He has had more than 250 pieces written for him and his ensembles. 

 

Double Bass Virtuoso

 

As a double bass soloist, Leon Bosch has performed concertos across the world and recorded 15 solo CDs, with varied programmes ranging from Hungarian, Russian and British repertoire to explorations of composers such as von Dittersdorf, Valls and Cervera-Bret.

 

He is also a champion of new music and is working with today’s leading composers to establish a diverse body of repertoire for the instrument.

 

In recent years he has returned to his roots with a project to commission South African composers. The first CD, The South African Double Bass, came out in February 2020 and Leon will tour its repertoire in 2021.

 

In 2020 he also embarked on a project to revive the sonatina, commissioning seven British composers to interpret the form for double bass. The first to be completed is Lockdown Dialogues, a sonatina for socially distanced double bass and piano by Geoffrey Poole. Leon will tour the repertoire in 2021 and record it for Meridian Records.  

 

Pedagogue

 

Leon Bosch is Professor of Double Bass at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance. He has taught formally since 1985 and developed a four-point accelerated learning system for the instrument. In his teaching he offers a philosophy of life and an intellectual framework for understanding and expressing the essence of music, encouraging musical virtuosity rather than just mechanical perfection. As well as teaching young people, he also mentors professional colleagues. 

 

As a double bass coach, Leon has worked around the world with groups including the South African National Youth Orchestra, MIAGI Youth Orchestra, I Culture Orchestra and Buskaid, as well as the UK’s National Youth String Orchestra and at Dartington International Summer School. 

 

Publisher

 

Committed to expanding the double bass canon, Leon Bosch created I Musicanti Publishing to help bring to attention neglected works by great composers as well as great works by neglected composers such as Josep Cervera-Bret and Joseph Keyper. He chooses and edits all the works in the company’s catalogue. 

 

Communicator

 

Leon Bosch is a frequent guest on BBC Radio, where he has contributed to debates on Midweek, In Tune, Outlook and Loose Ends, among other programs. 

 

He has written for publications including The Strad, Classical Music, Musical Opinion and BBC Music magazine, and is currently working on his first book, A Suitcase and a Dream, about his journey from the townships of South Africa to the world’s most prestigious concert halls and studios.

 

Session Musician

Leon remains active as a session player and works in the major London studios such as Abbey Road and Air Lyndhurst. He has contributed to more than 7,500 pop tracks, film scores and TV series, working with artists including Ed Sheeran, Madonna, Robbie Williams and Michael Jackson, and on scores such as Harry Potter, James Bond, The Lord of the Rings, Downton Abbey, Torchwood and The Midwife. It is his sound featured in Spitfire’s solo double bass samples. 

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