‘What I do know is that I’d like to live to be at least 100 years old because there’s so much more still to do and I’m impatient to get on with all those wonderful things.’
Now a British citizen, Leon Bosch grew up in 1960s and 70s South Africa, enrolling at the University of Cape Town to study the cello only because he was prevented by apartheid authorities from studying law. He soon switched to the double bass, dedicating himself to it with the kind of commitment that remains characteristic of him today.
His first teacher was Zoltan Kovats. ‘In addition to teaching me to play the instrument he taught me the true value of hard work. He was demanding, to the point of exhaustion – but the harder I worked, the more talented I became!’
After graduating, and thanks to the generosity of private benefactors, Bosch moved to the UK to continue his studies at the Royal Northern College of Music. He has remained in the country since, combining orchestral work with chamber music and solo performing, both internationally and at home.
Currently principal double bass with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, he has also held the post of principal with the Manchester Camerata. He has performed as concerto soloist many times with distinguished conductors including Sir Charles Groves and Pinchas Zukerman.
His recordings, mostly for Meridian, include several recitals with pianist Sung-Suk Kang and a volume of Dittersdorf concertos with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. He has also been instrumental in reviving the work of the neglected Catalan double bass virtuoso, Josep Cervera, helping bring to light over 60 original works for the instrument in first editions as well as a recording.
In 2013, he founded the ensemble I Musicanti, a hand-picked ensemble dedicated to presenting distinctive programmes in a spirit of artistic freedom. Alongside projects with this group, Bosch’s future plans include several recordings, among them more Cervera; a volume of specially commissioned British music; music by Dittersdorf’s contemporary, Vanhal; and a disc of sonatas by Hindemith, Karl Rankl and Norbert Sprongl.
He is also professor of double bass at Trinity Laban College, and is in demand as a teacher at masterclasses, festivals and summer schools around the world.
‘While it is almost certainly true that experience can not be hurried, if my own personal journey has taught me anything, it is that I have an obligation not only to share the knowledge I have been privileged to acquire, but also to provide some challenges, guidance and perspective to the next generations.’
Bosch also holds a masters degree in international relations. ‘I’ve always had a very wide range of interests. For example, the thing I’m highest qualified for in my life is international relations, not music. But this a part of who I am: I’m not just a musician, I’m a human being.’