Sir Neville Marriner is undoubtedly one of the great British conductors of today whose contribution to world of music remains unsurpassed.
Born in Lincoln in 1924, Marriner studied the violin at the London Royal College of Music from the age of 13 and later at the Paris Conservatoire. He then taught music from 1948 to 1949 at Eton College, after which he joined the Martin String Quartet and formed The Jacobean Ensemble with the harpsichordist and early music specialist/ musicologist Thurston Dart. By 1950, Marriner was a professor of violin at the Royal College of Music, where he remained until 1959. During these years, Marriner played with most of the London orchestras, including 12 years as principal second violin in the London Symphony Orchestra, which enabled him to experience various legendary conductors, among them Toscarini and Furtwängler, Cantelli and Karajan.
In 1959, Marriner then created the Academy of Saint Martin-in-the-Fields, a chamber orchestra which played in a London church by that name, and which soon became the leader in early music ensemble. Indeed, Marriner’s experience of early music playing with Dart who believed that early music should be played at the nimble pace of their epoch, rather than slowed down by the accumulated weight of awe and reverence, Marriner thus cultivated a lean, taut, unsentimental sound on modern-day instruments, which delighted his audiences with light and sprightly rhythms. Always pursuing further artistic success, Marriner soon introduced Mendelssohn, Rossini and 20th-century composers such as Elgar, Sibelius and Stravinsky to his orchestra. Oratorios and operas also increasingly found their way onto the ensemble's programs and recordings. Indeed, most of the Philips Mozart edition is indebted to Sir Neville Marriner, with over a quarter of the edition recorded under his baton.
From the concertmaster's seat as the director of the Academy of Saint Martin-in-the-Fields, he gravitated towards conducting. Pierre Monteux became his mentor, and his first conducting appointment was the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra from 1969-1979. He then became Music Director of the Minnesota Orchestra, where he remained until 1986, when he had already taken a similar post with the Radio Symphony Orchestra in Stuttgartfrom 1983 to 1989. Even though Marriner still continues to record with the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, one of the most comprehensively recorded chamber orchestras in the world, he is now also a sought-after guest conductor of such elite ensembles as the Staatskapelle Dresden and the Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam.
With almost two hundred recordings in the Philips catalogue , Marriner has worked with some of the greatest artists, including Jessye Norman, Kiri Te Kanawa, Alfred Brendel, Viktoria Mullova, Bryn Terfel, Anne Sofie Von Otter, Sylvia McNair, Thomas Allen, Barbara Hendricks, Karita Matilla, Lucia Popp and Imogen Cooper. Recent recording have included Gounod’s The 2 Symphonies coupled with Faust Ballet Music, Britten’s Curlew River and a selection of German Opera Overtures.
Sir Neville has twice been honoured for his services to music. In 1979, he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire and in 1985 he received a Knighthood.
In addition, he was awarded the Ordre des Arts et Lettres in 1995 by the French Ministry of Culture for his outstanding lifelong commitment to French cultural life.