Sir John Eliot Gardiner
“I would say that no other musician brings more
intellectual rigor or innate musical sensibility to their work”
- Michael Harrison, Trumpet
Founder and artistic director of the Monteverdi Choir, the English Baroque Soloists and the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, Sir John Eliot Gardiner is one of the most versatile and sought after conductors of our time.
He appears regularly with leading symphony orchestras such as the LSO, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Royal Concertgebouw, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Orchestre National de France and at the Royal Opera House. After serving as artistic director of the Opéra de Lyon (1983-88) and chef fondateur of its orchestra, the centre of his opera projects in France moved at first to the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris with Gluck’s Orphée and Alceste, Weber’s Oberon, Verdi’s Flastaff and most notably with Berlioz Les Troyens in 2003, and then to the Opéra Comique where he conducted new productions of Carmen, Pelléas et Mélisande, Chabrier’s L’Etoile, and the Weber-Berlioz Le Freyschütz with the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique.
Acknowledged as a key figure in the early music revival of the past four decades, Gardiner has led his own ensembles in a number of ground-breaking projects and international tours, including the year-long Bach Cantata Pilgrimage to mark the 250th anniversary of the composer’s death in the millennium year. Two of Gardiner’s ensembles celebrated momentous anniversaries in 2014: with the Monteverdi Choir he returned to King’s College, Cambridge to perform Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610, exactly fifty years to the day after their inaugural concert in the famous chapel. The 25th anniversary of the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique was marked by the filming of a BBC TV documentary on Beethoven, their first visit to Latin America, and culminated in a celebratory European tour. The two ensembles came together in August for a BBC Prom performance of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, widely acclaimed and hailed by one critic as 'the concert of the year'.
The extent of Gardiner’s repertoire is illustrated by over 250 recordings for major record companies and by numerous international awards including the Gramophone Special Achievement Award for live recordings of the complete church cantatas of JS Bach on the Soli Deo Gloria label. In 2013 he won the Critics’ Circle’s 'Outstanding Musician' award.
In recognition of his work, Sir John Eliot Gardiner has received several international prizes, and honorary doctorates - from the University of Lyon, the New England Conservatory of Music, the University of Pavia and the University of St. Andrews. In 1992 he became an Honorary Fellow of both King’s College London and the Royal Academy of Music, and in 2007/8 a Visiting Fellow of Peterhouse, Cambridge. In 2014 he was elected to an Honorary Fellowship of his alma mater, King’s College, Cambridge. Awarded a CBE in 1990 he was appointed a Knight Bachelor in the 1998 Queen’s Birthday Honours List. He was nominated Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1996 and made Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur in 2010. He received the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2005.
His acclaimed book on Bach, Music in the Castle of Heaven, was published by Penguin in the UK and by Knopf in the USA in 2013. He was recently appointed President of the Bach Archive in Leipzig.