It was announced recently that Sir. Neville Marriner died. I was tremendously fortunate during my time as a professional violinist to work with him several times. I have this week, therefore, decided to add the New York Times tribute to him and his lifetime dedication to music. He was educated in Dorset and would look back at his time in the Southwest with great fondness and I remember discussing this with him many times. An inspiration to us all and a farewell to one of the great musicians and conductors of our time.
Article taken from the New York Times
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Neville Marriner, a prolific British conductor responsible for some of the best-selling classical recordings of all time, died on Sunday at his home in London. He was 92.
His death was announced by the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, one of the world’s most acclaimed chamber orchestras, which Mr. Marriner founded in 1958.
From humble beginnings, the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields grew over the years into a powerhouse. Its recording of Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” was a best seller in 1969, as was its soundtrack to “Amadeus,” the hit 1984 film about the life of Mozart, which sold more than 6.5 million copies, reached No. 1 on the Billboard classical albums chart and won a Grammy.
Born on April 15, 1924, in Lincoln, England, Mr. Marriner studied violin, composition and piano at the Royal College of Music and the Paris Conservatoire and was soon playing with the London Symphony Orchestra, where he was principal second violin from 1956 to 1968.
He established the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields during his time with the London Symphony. The ensemble began modestly, with a group of 15 friends performing in his home, and gave its first public performance in 1959 in the London church from which it took its name.
It was with that small group of friends that Mr. Marriner began conducting — or, as he said in a 1978 interview, “twitching around.”
“You know, the actual mechanics of conducting are not very difficult,” he said at the time. “It’s getting the confidence. It’s like taking a driving test.”
In a statement on Sunday, the Academy said its discography was one of the largest of any chamber orchestra in the world and described its partnership with Mr. Marriner as “the most recorded of any orchestra and conductor.”
“Sir Neville’s artistic and recording legacy, not only with the Academy but with orchestras and audiences worldwide, is immense,” Paul Aylieff, the chairman of the Academy, said. “The Academy will ensure it continues to be an excellent and fitting testament to Sir Neville.”
Mr. Marriner was not just a prolific musician. He also figured prominently in debates over how music from the early modern period — such as the work of Mozart, Bach and Handel — should be played in the present day.
He advocated smaller, more agile groups for early music, and he remained committed to playing that repertoire with modern instruments, even as an insurgent movement urged a return to instruments and styles that had been in use in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Mr. Marriner was principal second violin in the London Symphony Orchestra from 1956 to 1968.CreditErich Auerbach/Hulton Archive
Mr. Marriner dismissed the insurgents as “the open-toed-sandals and brown-bread set,” but their rebellion soon achieved a measure of success and eventually became its own kind of establishment.
The New York Times music critic John Rockwell wrote in 1987 that Mr. Marriner was “our most stylish conductor of what might be called the centrist early-music movement.”
Mr. Marriner began his career as a conductor after playing violin with some of the most renowned conductors of the 20th century, including Arturo Toscanini, Wilhelm Furtwängler and Pierre Monteux, who was a mentor to him.
Apart from the Academy, as a conductor Mr. Marriner founded the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and served as the music director and principal conductor of both the Minnesota Orchestra and the Southwest German Radio Orchestra in Stuttgart. He also conducted a number of other orchestras in Europe, the United States and Japan.
His repertoire eventually expanded past the early moderns to encompass Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann and 20th-century British composers like Britten and Elgar.
All the while, he worked to foster the growth of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, which remained a constant in his life and career. He served as its music director from 1958 until 2011 and held the title of life president until his death.
He was honored three times for his service to music in Britain. He was named a Commander of the British Empire in 1979, knighted in 1985 and made a Companion of Honor, an order that recognizes achievements in the arts, science, politics, industry and religion, by Queen Elizabeth II last year.
Mr. Marriner is survived by his wife, Molly; a son, Andrew, the principal clarinetist of the London Symphony Orchestra; a daughter, Susie; three grandchildren; and a great-grandson.
Joshua Bell, the star violinist who succeeded Mr. Marriner as music director of the Academy in 2011, remembered him in a statement for “his brilliance, his integrity and his humor, both on and off the concert platform,” and said he would “always be the heart and soul of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields.”
When asked once in a television interview why he had decided to devote his life to classical music, Mr. Marriner cited the influence of his parents, whom he described as “fanatical classical music enthusiasts.”
“I suppose I was born into it, really,” he said. “I didn’t know any other sort of music, really.”
He said becoming a conductor had allowed him to overcome his own shortcomings as a violinist, which he likened to being “like an actor with a speech impediment.” Being a conductor, he explained, allowed him to harness the talents of an entire orchestra.
“What I felt about music I couldn’t express completely,” he said. “When you’re a conductor, virtually, you exploit a lot of very talented musicians. They’re in front of you and you’re taking from them the best that they can offer. So the potential for having a really satisfactory musical experience is greater.”