Friday, March 24, 2017

In Memoriam - Sir Neville Marriner (1924 – 2016)

No. 243 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages can be found in our archives at


In Novemberlast year , we posted a Tuesday Blog in remembrance of Sir Neville Marriner, who died in his sleep this past October at age 92. As our Friday Blog and Podcast was already committed to a number of posts in support of our ongoing projects, I haven’t had a chance to program an homage montage for Sir Neville until this week.

According to the Academy’s homage page for Sir Neville, Sir Neville studied at the Royal College of Music and the Paris Conservatoire. He began his career as a violinist, playing first in a string quartet and trio, then in the London Symphony Orchestra. It was during this period that he founded the Academy of Saint-Martin-in-the-Fields, with the aim of forming a top-class chamber ensemble from London’s finest players. Beginning as a group of friends who gathered to rehearse in Sir Neville’s front room, the Academy gave its first performance in its namesake church in 1959. The Academy now enjoys one of the largest discographies of any chamber orchestra worldwide, and its partnership with Sir Neville Marriner is the most recorded of any orchestra and conductor.

As a player, Sir Neville had observed some of the greatest conductors at close quarters. He worked as an extra under Toscanini and Furtwängler, with Joseph Krips, George Szell, Stokowski and mentor Pierre Monteux. Sir Neville began his conducting career in 1969, after his studies in America with Maestro Monteux. There he founded the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, at the same time as developing and extending the size and repertoire of the Academy. In 1979 he became Music Director and Principal Conductor of both the Minnesota Orchestra and the Südwest Deutsche Radio Orchestra in Stuttgart, positions he held until the late 1980s. Subsequently he has continued to work with orchestras round the globe in Vienna, Berlin, Paris, Milan, Athens, New York, Boston, San Francisco and Tokyo.

As aptly pointed out in his obituary, the ad material for the 1984 film Amadeus read: “Only two people were qualified to conduct the score.” Below those words were two pictures: one of Mozart in powdered wig, the other of Marriner in white dickie bow. “One was unavailable,” added the blurb.
It is therefore fitting that I programmed Mozart this week, in the form of his bassoon concerto (taken from a disc that featured three of Mozart’s wind concerti). Well recognized as baroque and classical era specialists, I also programmed Haydn’s “Fire” symphony with Marriner and his ASMF.

In past posts, we have featured Marriner in repertoire other than Corelli, Vivaldi, Haydn and Mozart: we heard him conducts selections from Leonard Bernstein’s ballet Fancy Free in our Blues montage from 2015. In Tuesday Blogs I shared a pair of vinyl records – one of Prokofiev with the London Symphony (my YouTube video of the Love for Three Oranges suite  has the most views on my channel) and the above-mentioned post of Stravinsky with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. To close out the montage, I chose Marriner in a third Russian composer, Tchaikovsky, part of his complete set of his four orchestral suites.

I think you will love this music too..

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