Neville Marriner

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Marriner in 2010 Neville-Marriner.jpg
Marriner in 2010
Marriner in 1982 Neville Marriner, 1982.jpg
Marriner in 1982
Marriner conducting in the 1980s Neville Marriner.jpg
Marriner conducting in the 1980s

Sir Neville Marriner, CH , CBE (15 April 1924 – 2 October 2016) was an English violinist who became "one of the world's greatest conductors". He founded the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, and his partnership with them is the most recorded of any orchestra and conductor. [1]

Violin bowed string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths

The violin, sometimes known as a fiddle, is a wooden string instrument in the violin family. Most violins have a hollow wooden body. It is the smallest and highest-pitched instrument in the family in regular use. Smaller violin-type instruments exist, including the violino piccolo and the kit violin, but these are virtually unused. The violin typically has four strings tuned in perfect fifths, and is most commonly played by drawing a bow across its strings, though it can also be played by plucking the strings with the fingers (pizzicato) and by striking the strings with the wooden side of the bow.

Conducting directing a musical performance by way of visible gestures

Conducting is the art of directing a musical performance, such as an orchestral or choral concert. It has been defined as "the art of directing the simultaneous performance of several players or singers by the use of gesture." The primary duties of the conductor are to interpret the score in a way which reflects the specific indications in that score, set the tempo, ensure correct entries by ensemble members, and "shape" the phrasing where appropriate. Conductors communicate with their musicians primarily through hand gestures, usually with the aid of a baton, and may use other gestures or signals such as eye contact. A conductor usually supplements their direction with verbal instructions to their musicians in rehearsal.

Academy of St Martin in the Fields Chamber orchestra

The Academy of St Martin in the Fields (ASMF) is an English chamber orchestra, based in London.


Early life

Marriner was born in Lincoln, England, the son of Herbert Marriner, a carpenter, and his wife Ethel (née Roberts). [1] He was educated at Lincoln School (then a grammar school), where he played in a jazz band with the composer Steve Race. [2] He initially learned the violin as well as the piano from his father, and later studied the violin with Frederick Mountney. In 1939, he went to the Royal College of Music in London, [3] getting the opportunity to play among the second violins of the London Symphony Orchestra, then conducted by Henry Wood, because many of its members had joined up after the outbreak of the Second World War. [4] He joined up himself in 1941, serving in a reconnaissance role in the British Army, but was invalided out in 1943 with kidney problems. He returned to the Royal College, where he continued his studies with the violinist Billy Reed. He then attended the Paris Conservatoire, where he studied with the violinist René Benedetti. [1] [3] [4]

Lincoln, England City and Borough in England

Lincoln is a cathedral city and the county town of Lincolnshire in the East Midlands of England. The non-metropolitan district of Lincoln had a 2012 population of 94,600. The 2011 census gave the urban area of Lincoln, which includes North Hykeham and Waddington, a population of 130,200. The Roman town of Lindum Colonia developed from an Iron Age settlement on the River Witham. Lincoln's major landmarks are Lincoln Cathedral, an example of English Gothic architecture and the tallest building in the world for over 200 years, as well as Lincoln Castle, an 11th-century Norman castle. The city is home to the University of Lincoln and Bishop Grosseteste University, and to Lincoln City FC and Lincoln United FC

Lincoln Christs Hospital School

Lincoln Christ's Hospital School is an English state secondary school with academy status located in Wragby Road in Lincoln. It was established in 1974, taking over the pupils and many of the staff of the older Lincoln Grammar School and Christ's Hospital Girls' High School, and two 20th-century secondary modern schools, St Giles's and Myle Cross.

Grammar school type of school in the United Kingdom and some other countries

A grammar school is one of several different types of school in the history of education in the United Kingdom and other English-speaking countries, originally a school teaching Latin, but more recently an academically-oriented secondary school, differentiated in recent years from less academic secondary modern schools.


Marriner was briefly a music teacher at Eton College. [3] [4] In 1948, he became a professor of the Royal College of Music. [4] In 1948 or 1949, he took up the position of second violinist of the Martin String Quartet, continuing to play with the quartet for 13 years. [3] [4] [5] He had met the harpsichordist Thurston Dart while recuperating from kidney damage during the war, and they formed a duo together, which expanded to the Virtuoso String Trio with Peter Gibbs. [4] These were the precursors to Dart's Jacobean Ensemble, in which Marriner played from 1951. [3] [4] He played the violin in two London orchestras: the Philharmonia Orchestra in the early 1950s, and the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) as principal second violin (1954–69). [3] [5] [6] He also played with the chamber orchestras of Reginald Jacques and Boyd Neel, as well as the London Mozart Players. [3] [4]

Eton College British independent boarding school located in Eton

Eton College is an English 13–18 independent boarding school and sixth form for boys in the parish of Eton, near Windsor in Berkshire. It was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI as The King's College of Our Lady of Eton besides Wyndsor, as a sister institution to King's College, Cambridge, making it the 18th-oldest Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference school.

Robert Thurston ("Bob") Dart, was an English musicologist, conductor and keyboard player. From 1964 until his death he was Professor of Music at King's College London.

Philharmonia Orchestra British Orchestra based in London

The Philharmonia Orchestra is a British orchestra based in London. It was founded in 1945 by Walter Legge, a classical music record producer for EMI. Among the conductors who worked with the orchestra in its early years were Richard Strauss, Wilhelm Furtwängler and Arturo Toscanini; of the Philharmonia's younger conductors, the most important to its development was Herbert von Karajan, who though never formally chief conductor was closely associated with the orchestra in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The Philharmonia became widely regarded as the finest of London's five symphony orchestras in its first two decades.

In 1958, he founded the Academy of St Martin in the Fields; initially a twelve-member chamber ensemble, it soon expanded to a chamber orchestra, and attracted musicians of a high calibre including Dart, Iona Brown, Christopher Hogwood and Alan Loveday. Marriner recorded prolifically with the Academy. [1] [3] [4] The first recordings in the early 1960s, with Marriner both conducting and playing lead violin, were successful, leading Pierre Monteux, then the LSO's conductor, to encourage Marriner to shift his focus to conducting. [3] Marriner had studied the subject with Monteux at his school in Hancock, Maine, in the United States, from around 1950. [4] [7]

Iona Brown British violinist and conductor

Iona Brown, OBE, was a British violinist and conductor.

Christopher Hogwood English conductor, harpsichordist, writer and musicologist

Christopher Jarvis Haley Hogwood was an English conductor, harpsichordist, writer, and musicologist. Founder of the early music ensemble the Academy of Ancient Music, he was an authority on historically informed performance and a leading figure in the early music revival of the late 20th century.

Alan Raymond Loveday was a New Zealand violinist. A child prodigy, he became leader of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and a soloist and leader with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. He was a professor at the Royal College of Music for 17 years from 1955. Loveday married pianist Ruth Stanfield in 1952, and they had two children, including Ian Loveday.

Marriner was the founder and first music director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, from 1969 to 1978. From 1979 to 1986, he was music director of the Minnesota Orchestra. He was principal conductor of the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra from 1986 to 1989. [4] [8] Except for 1974 to 1980 during which Iona Brown was the director, he remained the musical director of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields until 2011, when he was succeeded by Joshua Bell, continuing to hold the title of Life President until his death. [9] He also conducted many other orchestras, including the New York Chamber Orchestra, Gulbenkian Orchestra, Israel Chamber Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra and Vienna Philharmonic. [3] [4] He continued to conduct into his nineties, becoming the oldest conductor of a Proms concert in 2014, aged 90. [10]

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO) is an American chamber orchestra based in Los Angeles, California. LACO presents its Orchestral Series concerts at two venues, the Alex Theatre in Glendale and UCLA's Royce Hall.

Minnesota Orchestra symphonic orchestra based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

The Minnesota Orchestra is an American orchestra based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Founded in 1903, the Minnesota Orchestra plays most of its concerts at Minneapolis's Orchestra Hall.

The Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra was a German radio orchestra based in Stuttgart in Germany. The ensemble was founded in 1945 by American occupation authorities as the orchestra for Radio Stuttgart, under the name Sinfonieorchester von Radio Stuttgart. The radio network later became the Süddeutscher Rundfunk, and the orchestra changed its name in 1949 to the Sinfonieorchester des Süddeutschen Rundfunks. In 1959, the orchestra took on the name Südfunk-Sinfonieorchester, and acquired its current name in 1975.

His obituary in The Telegraph praises the Academy of St Martin in the Fields' interpretations of baroque and classical music as "fresh, technically brilliant", and describes them as a "revelation". [4] Marriner preferred modern instruments and effects, and his work came under criticism by Hogwood, among others, for not striving for an authentic sound. [4] He later expanded the Academy's repertoire to include Romantic and early-modern music. [4]

<i>The Daily Telegraph</i> British daily broadsheet newspaper

The Daily Telegraph, commonly referred to simply as The Telegraph, is a national British daily broadsheet newspaper published in London by Telegraph Media Group and distributed across the United Kingdom and internationally. It was founded by Arthur B. Sleigh in 1855 as Daily Telegraph & Courier.

Baroque music style of Western art music

Baroque music is a period or style of Western art music composed from approximately 1600 to 1750. This era followed the Renaissance music era, and was followed in turn by the Classical era. Baroque music forms a major portion of the "classical music" canon, and is now widely studied, performed, and listened to. Key composers of the Baroque era include Johann Sebastian Bach, Antonio Vivaldi, George Frideric Handel, Claudio Monteverdi, Domenico Scarlatti, Alessandro Scarlatti, Henry Purcell, Georg Philipp Telemann, Jean-Baptiste Lully, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Arcangelo Corelli, Tomaso Albinoni, François Couperin, Giuseppe Tartini, Heinrich Schütz, Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, Dieterich Buxtehude, and Johann Pachelbel.

Romantic music music of the Romantic period

Romantic music is a period of Western classical music that began in the late 18th or early 19th century. It is related to Romanticism, the Western artistic and literary movement that arose in the second half of the 18th century, and Romantic music in particular dominated the Romantic movement in Germany.

Marriner made over 600 recordings covering 2,000 different works – more than any conductor except Herbert von Karajan. [4] He recorded for various labels, including Argo, L'Oiseau Lyre, Philips and EMI Classics. His recorded repertoire ranges from the baroque era [11] to 20th-century British music, as well as opera. [3] He supervised the Mozart selections for the soundtrack of the Oscar-winning 1984 film Amadeus ; it became one of the most popular classical music recordings of all time, selling over 6.5 million copies. [1]

Personal life and death

Marriner was married twice. His first wife was cellist (and later, antiquarian bookseller) Diana Carbutt, whom he married in 1949. They had two children, Susie, a writer, and Andrew, a clarinettist who often worked with his father and who is now principal clarinet of the London Symphony Orchestra. The marriage ended in divorce. His second wife was Elizabeth Mary Sims, known as Molly; they married in 1957. [1] [4] [12] He lived in London, and in later life also had a house near Chardstock in Devon. [4] Asked for an epitaph for his gravestone, he replied simply: "Follow the beat." [13] Marriner died on 2 October 2016, at the age of 92. [1] [4]


Marriner was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1979. He was created a Knight Bachelor in 1985. [14] In the 2015 Queen's Birthday Honours, he was appointed a Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH). [15] He was appointed an officer of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. His recordings of Mozart were honoured with two Gemeinde Awards from the Austrian Music Academy. [4]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Siddique, Haroon (2 October 2016). "Conductor Sir Neville Marriner dies aged 92". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  2. Our School, Lincoln Christ's Hospital School, 22 April 2014, retrieved 2 October 2016
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Tully Potter, John Amis (2 October 2016), "Sir Neville Marriner obituary", The Guardian, retrieved 2 October 2016CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 "Sir Neville Marriner – obituary", The Telegraph, 2 October 2016, retrieved 3 October 2016
  5. 1 2 Kirby, Anthony (1 June 2000). "Sir Neville Marriner: Beyond the Academy". Lo Scena Musicale. Retrieved 2009-04-02.
  6. Higgins, Charlotte (14 February 2007). "One hundred years of attitude". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-09-06.
  7. Alumni, Pierre Monteux School , retrieved 2 October 2016
  8. "Neville Marriner". NAXOS. Retrieved 2011-05-16.
  9. "Sir Neville Marriner CH, CBE". Academy of St Martin in the Fields. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  10. Leading British conductor Sir Neville Marriner dies at 92, BBC, 2 October 2016, retrieved 2 October 2016
  11. Goldman, Richard Franko (April 1966). "Reviews of Records: Italian Concertos". The Musical Quarterly. 52 (2): 268–270. doi:10.1093/mq/lii.2.268.
  12. Page, Tim (2 October 2016). "Neville Marriner, who led renowned Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, dies at 92". Washington Post. Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  13. "Obituary: Sir Neville Marriner". The Times online. 3 October 2016. Retrieved 3 October 2016. (subscription may be required or content may be available in libraries)
  14. "No. 47888". The London Gazette (Supplement). 26 June 1979. p. 4.
  15. "No. 61256". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 June 2015. p. B6.
Cultural offices
Preceded by
Sergiu Celibidache
Principal Conductor, Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
Succeeded by
Gianluigi Gelmetti