Leon Bosch

Leon Bosch

Conductor • Double Bass

• Born 1961


South African-born, British double bassist Leon Bosch is known as one of the world's top players of his instrument. After a long stint as principal double bassist with the Academy of St-Martin-in-the-Fields, he branched out into solo repertory, playing concertos and founding his own ensemble, I Musicanti. He is also noted as an educator.

Bosch was born in Cape Town, South Africa, on July 7, 1961. He enrolled at the University of Cape Town and intended to study law, but was prevented from doing so by South Africa's apartheid regulations. He was permitted to enroll, however, as a music student, soon switching from cello to the double bass. "When I play the bass," he has said, he is a "quite free human spirit." His teacher was Zoltan Kovats. After graduating, Bosch moved to Britain for further study at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, eventually taking British citizenship. But he remained active as an anti-apartheid activist and earned a degree in International Relations in order to give his views greater weight. Bosch made his solo debut with the Philharmonia Orchestra in London in 1984. After a period of solo, orchestral, and chamber music performances, he landed the coveted first chair with the longstanding Academy of St-Martin-in-the-Fields chamber orchestra in 1995 and remained in that position until 2014. By that time, Bosch's recording career was already well underway. He released the album Virtuoso Double Bass on Meridian and has continued to record mostly for that label, often essaying rare and forgotten repertory, as on the 2015 release Josep Cervera-Bret: The Catalan Virtuoso. In 2018 he appeared on Naxos on an album devoted to the chamber music of William Sterndale Bennett. Bosch has been an avid chamber player, appearing with the Brodsky, Belcea, and Lindsay string quartets and joining pianists including Sung-Suk Kang, Maria João Pires, and Vladimir Ovchinnikov. Bosch has been notable for expanding the double bass repertory through commission of new works by John McCabe, South African composers Hendrik Hofmeyr and the jazz-oriented Paul Hanmer, and others. He founded I Musicanti in 2013 and has made several recordings of that group, again often including neglected repertory; in all, he has revived more than 60 forgotten double bass compositions. Bosch is on the faculty at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London and the Purcell School.