Happy 70th Birthday, Sir John Eliot!
19 Apr 2013

This Saturday 20th April, our Conductor and Artistic Director Sir John Eliot Gardiner celebrates his 70th birthday.

JEG by Matthias Baus 7 500 x 343

"It is characteristic of one of classical music's most multi-tasking maestros that he should be celebrating his 70th birthday with a Marathon", was Hugh Canning's apt comment in the Sunday Times. Tom Service of BBC Music Magazine couldn't have agreed more, describing Sir John Eliot as "quite possibly the most energetic, provocative and intellectually and creatively curious 69 year old the musical world has ever seen". The Guardian added: "Nearly 50 years after he founded his first ensemble, the Monteverdi Choir, while still a student, Sir John Eliot's energy is still undiminished and he is as full of innovative musical projects as ever".

Famous for his strong vision and his often controversial take on musical culture, Sir John Eliot is in equal measure celebrated for the generosity of his "characterful, big-hearted performances" (TheArtsDesk). According to The Guardian, "... it is hard to think of anyone in British music who has given us all more", and Oliver Condy, editor of BBC Music Mag, adds "His contribution to musical life has been immense".

"He has worked in all the major concert halls and opera houses of Europe, pioneered the Early Music movement and directed performances by the Berlin Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Opera", wrote Paul Elie in the New Statesman. "It's a life in music that can claim among its edited highlights the formation of perhaps the most influential group of singers in the history of the early music movement... and a discography of unique and award winning depth and range" added Tom Service.

has played a large part in teasing historically informed performance out of the lecture house and into mainstream concert life" says Oliver Condy, "but research is only a part of what he has brought to Baroque music. His skill at assembling exceptional performers, with equal passion for the music, underpins every project he undertakes."

When asked by the Financial Times what ambitions he still has, Sir John Eliot replied: "To make a contribution towards changing the current perception of classical music as remote or inaccessible. To make it cool for young people to attend concert". And when Tom Service ventured "the impudence of asking the perennial pioneer if he is ever inclined to look back on his life in music", the answer was, typically: "Mostly I look forward. My enthusiasm for the whole process of discovery is undimmed. And none of it is finished business. I mean, how could it ever be finished?"


Read more interviews:

The Arts Desk
Time Out
The Guardian
Sinfini Music
Gramophone is publishing a Digital Supplement, which will be available from this weekend.



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You can also email us on This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or send a letter to:  Monteverdi Choir & Orchestra, Level 9, 25 Cabot Square, London E14 4QA.