Giacomo Susani

Giacomo Susani
Giacomo Susani (Photo by Luciano Tomasin, 2015)

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Neville Marriner (1924-2016) – In Memoriam

Sir Neville Marriner conducting the Academy of St Martin in the Fields
at Carnegie Hall, New York, in 2007. Photo by Hiroyuki Ito

Neville Marriner
(April 15, 1924 - October 2, 2016 • 15 Απριλίου 1924 - 2 Οκτωβρίου 2016)

In Memoriam

On the strength of what he had achieved by his early 30s, Sir Neville Marriner, who has died aged 92, would have been remembered as a decent orchestral and chamber music violinist. But at 34 he made a brilliant career move that led to his becoming one of the world's best-known conductors. His chamber orchestra, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, not only inaugurated a fashion for long-winded ensemble titles, but shot straight to the top of its class, beating the Germans and Italians at their own game. To achieve this feat in Britain, a land not noted for its string playing, was extraordinary.

Recordings were vital to the success of the Academy of St Martin's, which initially played only baroque music. When Marriner was invited by four colleagues to form the crack string band in 1958, he led it from the first desk as Adolf Busch had done in the 1930s and 40s with his Chamber Players, and Felix Ayo was doing with I Musici. The original 12 musicians wanted the chance to make music democratically, as they suffered enough in their “day jobs” from the tyrannies of conductors.

The group, which drew on Marriner’s experience of playing in such chamber orchestras as the Jacques (founded by Reginald Jacques) and the Boyd Neel, met initially in his flat. But their keyboard player, John Churchill, who was director of music at the classical 18th-century church in Trafalgar Square, suggested they should give five concerts at St Martin's in the 1958-1959 season. The viola player Michael Bowie came up with the title Academy. The initial series went well, the BBC took note and a more ambitious series began on 13 November 1959, now considered the Academy's real starting point.

Louise Dyer, an Australian sheep farmer and entrepreneur who ran the characterful record label L'Oiseau Lyre, was impressed by the first concert and offered a contract for six records. On 25 and 26 March 1961 the Academy assembled in Conway Hall to record works by Corelli, Torelli, Locatelli, Albicastro and Handel. Marriner had to buy gut E-strings because the violins sounded too shrill in the hall's acoustic. Each player received £5, with no promise of royalties. Issued in 1962, the LP was well received, and that July a second programme was set down in Walthamstow Assembly Hall, east London. When Dyer died in 1962, Harley Usill's enterprising Argo label took over the Academy.

The group's LPs did so well that Marriner, with encouragement and coaching from the LSO's conductor Pierre Monteux, began to exchange his bow for the baton. The Academy soon expanded to a full chamber orchestra and, with major studio contracts from Decca and later EMI, Philips and Sony, eventually became the most recorded orchestra of all, covering a vast repertoire from the Baroque to the moderns.

By 1969 Marriner could give up playing in other orchestras and work full time with the Academy. The ultimate professional, he was able to attract the best players because they were aware that he knew what he was doing. Academy recordings were musicologically sound and technically polished. Thurston Dart played the harpsichord on some of them, even during his final illness, and soloists such as Alan Loveday and Iona Brown – who in 1978 became Marriner's successor in directing from the violin – lent further lustre to the lineup.

The Academy also toured worldwide and appeared at the large festivals, making a big impact at Salzburg under Marriner in 1982. In 1990 alone, the orchestra gave 114 concerts outside the UK with Marriner, and in 1993 it won a Queen's award for export achievement. Meanwhile, in 1969 Marriner had taken over the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, which took him to California twice a year until 1987.

Born in Lincoln to Herbert, a carpenter, and Ethel (nee Roberts), Marriner was taught the violin and piano by his father before opting for the violin and studying with Frederick Mountney. He was educated at Lincoln school and entered the Royal College of Music in London on a scholarship in 1939. His studies with Edward Elgar's friend Billy Reed were disrupted by second world war service in Army reconnaissance (1941-1943), but on being invalided out, after five months in hospital, he went back to the RCM. He then spent a year at the Paris Conservatoire, studying with the virtuoso violinist René Benedetti. After a year teaching music at Eton, he joined the Martin Quartet in 1949 as second fiddle to the Canadian violinist David Martin.

An even more powerful influence was Dart, in whose Jacobean Ensemble he played from 1951; with Dart and such enterprises as the American Vanguard record label, he was in at the beginning of the modern "early music" movement. He also founded the Virtuoso String Trio. But he earned much of his living playing in London orchestras: he was in the Philharmonia when Arturo Toscanini came to conduct in 1952 and he joined the LSO in 1954 as principal second violin, a post he held until 1969. In 1971 he made his debut with the New York Chamber Orchestra. He worked with the Gulbenkian Orchestra in Lisbon and the Israel Chamber Orchestra in Tel Aviv, and in 1973 conducted the inaugural concerts of the Australian Chamber Orchestra in Sydney.

In 1977 he made his New York Philharmonic debut with a Mozart programme; and he conducted the Detroit Symphony Orchestra a good deal. He also worked in Britain with the Northern Sinfonia from 1971, and from 1979 to 1987 was in charge of the Minnesota Orchestra. At the same time he conducted regularly in Germany, notably with the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra (1986-89).

From the late 70s he occasionally tackled opera, in both theatre and studio, and he mastered the central choral repertory: from 1975 the Academy had an associated chorus, founded by Laszlo Heltay. More recently Marriner freelanced, but in all the phases of his career he kept in touch with the Academy, only handing the music director's baton to fellow violinist Joshua Bell in 2011, when he became the Academy's life president. In 2014 Decca issued a 28-disc box of all his recordings from 1961 to 1982 for L'Oiseau-Lyre, Argo and ASV.

Marriner was not a "deep" conductor, but he was a very good one. His style mirrored his outward appearance, which was neat and dapper, and his manner, which was self-deprecating in an English way. If he lacked the ability of the greatest orchestral directors to see and convey a work as one massive entity, he was able to give each movement of a symphony or concerto a convincing shape.

His Bach, Vivaldi, Handel, Haydn and Mozart were buoyant and graceful; he brought expertise and intuitive understanding to 20th-century British string music; and some of his recordings of large works, such as Haydn's Creation or Mozart's Così Fan Tutte, have a sheen and glow that will keep them selling for years to come. It would be hard to beat his accompaniment to Viktoria Mullova in the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto.

For most of the 50s he taught the violin at the RCM, and he later helped many fledgling conductors. He was appointed CBE in 1979, knighted in 1985 and made Companion of Honour in 2015.

His first marriage to the cellist Diana Carbutt, by whom he had two children, Andrew, a clarinettist, who often worked with his father, and Susie, a writer, ended in divorce. In 1957 he married Elizabeth Mary Sims, known as Molly, whose hard work in the struggling early years of the Academy played a major role in its success.

Marriner is survived by Molly, Andrew, Susie, three grandsons, Douglas, Matthew and Milo, and a great-grandson, Frederick.

Source: Tully Potter (, 2/10/2016)

Neville Marriner, left, playing the violin in the mid-1960s. Photo by Erich Auerbach

Ένας από τους σημαντικότερους διεθνώς διευθυντές ορχήστρας, ο σερ Νέβιλ Μάρινερ, δεν βρίσκεται πια στη ζωή. «Έφυγε» πλήρης ημερών, στον ύπνο του, τα ξημερώματα της Κυριακής 2 Οκτωβρίου 2016.

Είχε γεννηθεί στο Λίνκολν της Βρετανίας το 1924. Ως προς τη μουσική του ευαισθησία, πάντως, μπορεί να θεωρηθεί ο πιο «Γάλλος» από τους Βρετανούς μαέστρους. Το στοιχείο αυτό αντανακλάται και στο βιογραφικό του, όπου μνημονεύονται μόνο δύο δάσκαλοί του. Ο ένας είναι ο Ρενέ Μπενεντετί με τον οποίο ο Μάρινερ εμβάθυνε στη μελέτη του βιολιού στο Ωδείο των Παρισίων αμέσως μετά τον πόλεμο· ο άλλος είναι ο Πιερ Μοντέ, ο μεγάλος Γάλλος μαέστρος που έκανε καριέρα στις Ηνωμένες Πολιτείες, του οποίου τα μαθήματα διεύθυνσης ορχήστρας παρακολούθησε ο Μάρινερ σε θερινά σεμινάρια στο Μέιν των ΗΠΑ.

Ο Νέβιλ Μάρινερ, που έγινε σερ το 1985, ξεκίνησε την καριέρα του ως βιολονίστας στην Ορχήστρα Φιλαρμόνια και στη Συμφωνική Ορχήστρα του Λονδίνου. Το 1958, ίδρυσε την περίφημη ορχήστρα Δωματίου «Ακαδημία του Αγ. Μαρτίνου στους Αγρούς» ("Academy of St Martin in the Fields"). Αυτή η εμβληματική ορχήστρα, που έφτασε στα hit parade της ποπ με τις ηχογραφήσεις της έργων του Μότσαρτ ως σάουντρακ της ταινίας του Μίλος Φόρμαν «Αμαντέους», εξελίχθηκε σε έναν σημαντικό πυρήνα της μουσικής ζωής του Λονδίνου και της διεθνούς δισκογραφίας. Μια «προσωπική» ορχήστρα ενός μαέστρου, που όταν την ίδρυσε ήταν μόλις 35 ετών. Από το 1969 έως το 1978, ο Νέβιλ Μάρινερ ήταν καλλιτεχνικός διευθυντής της Ορχήστρας Δωματίου του Λος Άντζελες, ενώ από το 1979 έως το 1986 κατείχε την ίδια θέση στην Ορχήστρα της Μινεσότα.

Διετέλεσε καλλιτεχνικός διευθυντής στην «Καμεράτα – Ορχήστρα Φίλων της Μουσικής» από το 2000 έως το 2001 και από την περίοδο 2001-2007 ήταν επίτιμος πρόεδρός της. Ο σερ Νέβιλ Μάρινερ ήταν, έτσι κι αλλιώς, ιδιαίτερα αγαπητός στο ελληνικό κοινό και από τους δίσκους του και από τις εμφανίσεις του με την ορχήστρα του στο Μέγαρο Μουσικής.

Πηγή:, 3/10/2016

Sir Neville Marriner at his home in London in 2008. Photo by Sarah Lee for the Guardian

See also / Δείτε επίσης

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Concerto for flute, harp and orchestra in C major – Patrick Gallois, Fabrice Pierre, Orchestre de la Suisse italienne, Neville Marriner

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