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Gardiner, Sir John Eliot

Gardiner, Sir John Eliot

Gardiner, Sir John Eliot, outstanding English conductor, great-nephew of H(enry) Balfour Gardiner; b. Fontmell Magna, Dorset, April 20, 1943. As a child, he attended the Bryanston Summer School of Music and later played in the National Youth Orch. He studied history at King’s Coll., Cambridge (M.A., 1965) and pursued advanced training in music with Dart at King’s Coll., London (1966); a French government scholarship enabled him to study with Boulanger in Paris and Fontainebleau (1966–68). In 1964 he founded the Monteverdi Choir, followed by its complement, the Monteverdi Orch., in 1968. In the latter year, he conducted his own performing edition of Monteverdi’s Vespers at the London Promanade Concerts. He made his first appearance at the Sadler’s Wells Opera in London in 1969 conducting Die Zauberflote. In 1971 he discovered in Paris the MS of Rameau’s opera Abaris, ou Les Boreades, which he conducted in its concert premiere in London on April 19, 1975, and in its stage premiere at the Aix-en-Provence Festival on July 21, 1982. In 1973 he made his debut at London’s Covent Garden conducting Gluck’s Iphigenie en Tauride. He founded the English Baroque Soloists in 1977, which he conducted in performances utilizing original instruments of the Baroque era. From 1980 to 1983 he was principal conductor of the CBC Orch. in Vancouver. He served as artistic director of the Göttingen Handel Festivals from 1981 to 1990. From 1983 to 1988 he was music director of the Lyons Opera. In 1990 he organized the Orchestre Revolutionaire et romantique, an orch. devoted to performing scores on instruments of the period. He conducted it in Beethoven’s 9th Sym. at its U.S. debut in N.Y. in 1996. From 1991 to 1994 he was chief conductor of the North German Radio Sym. Orch. in Hamburg. As a guest conductor, Gardiner has appeared in many of the principal music centers of the world. To commemorate the 250th anniversary of the death of Bach, Gardiner conducted his English Baroque Soloists and Monteverdi Choir on a major tour of Europe in 2000, during which he made various broadcasts and recordings. In 1990 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. In 1998 he was knighted. His repertoire is immense, ranging from the pre-Baroque to modern eras. His interpretations reflect his penchant for meticulous scholarship while maintaining stimulating performance standards.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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