Blog

A contemporary master of early Baroque
and Renaissance Music: Hopkinson Smith

Blog
A contemporary master of early Baroque and Renaissance Music: Hopkinson Smith

28.12.2017

Text by Yetkin Vural
Illustration by
Saydan Akşit

This January, Akbank Sanat’s Guitar Days brought in plucked string instrument masters from around the globe to stage. American lute master Hopkinson Smith, Hungarian guitarist Zsófia Boros and a young talent, Japanese Kanahi Yamashita were the guests of this year’s Guitar Days. After the upcoming performances, we are looking at the highlights from one of the most important names in early music and historical plucked instruments, Hopkinson Smith.

Hopkinson Smith was born in 1946 in New York. He started his guitar education at an early age and later on in his early 20’s discovered lute, an instrument he learnt how to play by himself. After finishing his musicology degree in Harvard with high honors, Smith moved to Europe to pursue his lute education with a very important name of early music and plucked string instruments, Catalonian pedagogue Emilio Pujol. Later on he continued his education in Switzerland with another lute master, Eugen M. Dombois. Smith says beyond the technical education, what he gained most from these two masters was a respect for high artistic values and the organic unity between the instrument, the performer and the music, which transformed his own understanding of music.

Starting with mid 70’s, Hopkinsopn Smith was a member of various chamber orchestras and ensembles. He was one of the founders of early music ensemble Hespèrion XX, which led a ten year long collaboration with Catalonian composer, music director and viol master Jordi Savall. Smith’s involvement with Savall and his experiences in chamber music shaped his creativity in the later years of his career, where he focused more on solo projects.

By the second half of 80’s Smith delve into the world of early period plucked instruments such as vihuela (a 15th / 16th Century instrument with 5 or 6 double strings), theorbo, Renaissance and Baroque guitars and lutes. His unique, dynamic, accurate and intimate playing style has gained much praise over the years and he is now seen as one of the most important performers of the lute and early period, Baroque and Renaissance music.

“What you try to do, always, is go beyond what you see on the paper to find the real spirit of the music which is behind any particular notation. [...] In the best of moments, I think one should experience no limits at all in a certain instrument or a certain period, but rather find total freedom.  What we’re trying to do is find and communicate this total freedom, and at the same time liberate the spirit that is behind it.”
Hopkinson Smith

With over 20 recordings, Hopkinson Smith has managed trace the history of early plucked instruments in Spain, Italy and French based Baroque and Renaissance period music. Many of his recordings were praised by prestigious classical music magazines and he received awards such as Diapason D'Or, Choc du Monde de la Musique and 10 de Répertoire. Above all, Baroque composer Bach has been a recurring theme for Smith, who has many recordings on Bach’s music. Among those, especially his lute adaptation recording of Bach’s sonatas and partitas for solo violin was appraised by prestigious English classical music magazine Gramophone as “arguably the best you can buy of these works - on any instrument”.

Alongside the performances and recordings, Hopkinson Smith also carries on the pedagogue tradition, which had an important role in his won education, to next generations. Some of his students include names such as Rolf Lislevand, Edin Karamazov, Andreas Martin, Yasunori Imamura and Peter Croton. Hopkinson Smith’s performance of lute pieces from Elisabeth Period for Akbank Sanat Guitar Days will take place on 17th January Wednesday at 20:00. 

Follow Us
TR EN
Filter events by label
11 JUN MON
-
12 JUN TUE
1

19:00

Drifters / Tjuvheder

Akbank Sanat

13 JUN WED
2

18:30

Dance Classes for Adult

Akbank Sanat

19:00

Eternal Summer / Odöliga

Akbank Sanat

14 JUN THU
1

18:30

Dance Classes for Adult

Akbank Sanat

15 JUN FRI
1

18:30

Dance Classes for Adult

Akbank Sanat

16 JUN SAT
1

17:00

Dance Classes for Adult

Akbank Sanat

17 JUN SUN
-
18 JUN MON
-
19 JUN TUE
1

19:00

Reflections / Speglingar

Akbank Sanat

20 JUN WED
2

18:30

Dance Classes for Adult

Akbank Sanat

19:00

Before Snowfall / Før Snøen Faller

Akbank Sanat

21 JUN THU
2

18:30

Dance Classes for Adult

Akbank Sanat

19:00

Staying Alive

Akbank Sanat

22 JUN FRI
1

18:30

Dance Classes for Adult

Akbank Sanat

23 JUN SAT
5

11:00

Geometric Art (Ages 6-12)

Akbank Sanat

12:30

I Am Designing My Own Bag (Ages 6 - 14 Years Old)

Akbank Sanat

15:30

Mini Mosaics Workshop (For 7 – 14 Ages)

Akbank Sanat

17:00

Printing Workshop for Kids (For 5-8 Ages)

Akbank Sanat

17:00

Dance Classes for Adult

Akbank Sanat

24 JUN SUN
-
25 JUN MON
-
26 JUN TUE
-
27 JUN WED
1

18:30

Dance Classes for Adult

Akbank Sanat

28 JUN THU
2

18:30

Dance Classes for Adult

Akbank Sanat

19:00

Long Story Short / Lang Historie Kort

Akbank Sanat

29 JUN FRI
2

18:30

Dance Classes for Adult

Akbank Sanat

19:00

Walk With Me / De Standhaftige

Akbank Sanat

30 JUN SAT
5

11:00

Colorful Cups (For 6-14 Ages)

Akbank Sanat

13:00

I Am Designing My Own Bag (Ages 6 - 14 Years Old)

Akbank Sanat

15:30

Mosaic Sculpture Workshop (For 7-14 Ages)

Akbank Sanat

17:00

Dance Classes for Adult

Akbank Sanat

17:00

Toy Sculpture Workshop

Akbank Sanat

01 JUL SUN
-

Add event to your calendar

Subscribe to Newsletter