South African Double Bassist, Leon Bosch, playing his double bass alongside two duplicates of himself.
October 2, 2019

Leon Bosch

Internationally Renowned SA Double Bassist

Leon Bosch is an internationally renowned classical double bass virtuoso. With over a dozen solo CDs to his name, he regularly commissions repertoire for the instrument, making recital and concerto appearances around the world.

He is professor of double bass at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London. But he also gives masterclasses in the US, Europe, South Africa and the Far East, and coaches young eastern European musicians at the I, Culture Orchestra in Poland and the young South Africans who make up the Miagi Orchestra.

He also acts as a mentor for South African musicians worldwide.

Worlds greatest double bass player Leon Bosch, staring seriously with his hands in front of his face.

Activist Overachiever

Leon Bosch grew up in 1960s and 70s South Africa, the son of the political activist Jonas Fred Bosch – he himself spent time in a police cell for organising protests while at school. He left the apartheid regime there to come to study at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester after achieving the highest ever marks awarded for the B Mus performance examination by the University of Cape Town

Remaining in the UK – he is now a British citizen – he was soon appointed principal double bass with the acclaimed Academy of St Martin in the Fields.

He left the post in 2014 to devote himself to his solo career, to teaching and to establishing his now thriving chamber ensemble, I Musicanti. He also conducts and has a passion for researching lost or forgotten music for double bass such as by the Catalan Josep Cervera and the Danish court musician, Franz Keyper.

Fast Runs Are His Specialty

Away from music, Leon Bosch is a regular runner of marathons and ultra-marathons (winning silver medal for his age group in the 2017 86-mile Ridgeway Challenge) and holds a master’s degree in intelligence and international relations from Salford University. ‘I’ve always had a very wide range of interests,’ he says. ‘For example, the thing I’m highest qualified for in my life is international relations, not music. But this is a part of who I am: I’m not just a musician, I’m a human being'.

A drawn cellist and double bassist singing along to the album by Bass-ically Brilliant.

Bass-ically Brilliant

Having already recorded Allan Stephenson’s concertos for cello and double bass, with the composer conducting the Cape Philharmonic (Meridian CDE 84602), Peter Martens and Leon Bosch join together for the Sonatina written for the pair in 2004. The three-movement work has a fast-slow-fast structure: a bright Allegro, followed by a Sicilienne and a virtuoso theme and variations.

‘Allan Stephenson is a personal friend,’ explains Martens. ‘His duo was written for Leon and me, and next to the title of the Duo he has written: “Have fun guys!” That encapsulates the style of the music.

One critic once wrote of Allan Stephenson’s music that it unashamedly listener-friendly; I love that quote because Allan isn’t an academic, he doesn’t try to be complicated. He simply tries to write nice music that people will enjoy to play and listen to. And he gets that right.

It’s not easy to play but it’s instantly likeable and is like Allan is as a person, really: he’s generous. He himself is a cellist and arranger/composer and conductor so he understands all the aspects that go into what we do when we play the music and so the music comes across as joyous and very likeable.’

Born in Cheshire, Stephenson studied cello at what was then the Royal Manchester College of Music before moving to South Africa in 1973. It was Stephenson who offered Leon Bosch, then a cellist, a place at the University of Cape Town, thus putting him on the path to his career in music.

Listen to Leon Bosch & Peter Martens playing Allan Stephenson's Sonatina