Montserrat Figueras (1948-2011)

Soprano and leading early music specialist dies aged 69

The Spanish soprano Montserrat Figueras, a highly regarded figure in the early music world, has died aged 69.

Figueras was born in Barcelona in 1948 and studied at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel, Switzerland under baritone Kurt Widmer, mezzo-soprano Andrea von Ramm and lutenist Thomas Binkley. She began working with the Spanish violist and early music pioneer Jordi Savall in 1967. The pair she later married and had two children, Arianna and Ferran.

In the following years Figueras helped found several early music ensembles, including Hespèrion XX (which became XXI in 2000), La capella Reial de Catalunya and Le Concert des Nations.

She made over 60 recordings including music by Monteverdi, Victoria, Frescobaldi and Mozart. The most recent recording she appears on is Mare nostrum, a disc of music from Morocco, Spain, Israel and Lebanon, with Hespèrion XXI, which is due to be released in early December this year. She and Savall also ran the record label Alia Vox on which this and many of her recordings have been released.

She was made an ‘Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres’ by the French government in 2003 and, along with her husband, was made an ‘Artist for Peace’ by UNESCO. More recently she was awarded the Cross of Sant Jordi by the Catalan government in April of this year.

Elizabeth Davis