The Kennedy Center

Roger Norrington



Biography

Sir Roger Norrington is a native of Oxford, England, where he came from a University family with strong musical connections. He was a talented boy soprano, studied the violin from the age of ten, and singing from 17, but his higher education was in English Literature at Cambridge. After several years´ experience as a violinist, tenor and conductor, he returned to his studies at the Royal College of Music under Sir Adrian Boult.

In 1962, he founded the Schütz Choir and thus began a 30 year exploration of historical performance practice. With the Choir, he gave many innovative concerts and made numerous recordings for Argo/Decca, mainly of 17 th and 19 th century repertoire. Such performances were at first accompanied by the London Baroque Players, but as the period of rediscovery moved forward, the London Classical Players became the normal partner. When Norrington reached the era of the symphony in his researches, the LCP took on a life of its own and the Schütz Choir went into semi-retirement.

The LCP leapt to world-wide renown, with Norrington´s dramatic performances of the Beethoven Symphonies on period instruments. The recordings of these for EMI won prizes in the UK, Germany, Belgium and the United States, and are still among the most sought after readings of modern times.

Many other ground-breaking recordings followed, not only of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven but of a stream of 19 th century masters: Berlioz, Weber, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Rossini, Schumann, which carried the research forward into the Romantic Movement. Most recently remarkable recordings of Brahms´ 4 Symphonies, of Wagner, Bruckner and Smetana have moved the boundaries even further.

Norrington´s work on scores, on sound, on orchestra size, seating and playing style, has had a profound effect on the way 19 th century music is now perceived, and not surprisingly, he is in great demand by symphony orchestras world-wide. He works regularly with orchestras in Berlin, Vienna, Salzburg, Amsterdam, Paris, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and, of course, London. He is Chief Conductor of the Camerata Salzburg and the Radio Symphony Orchestra in Stuttgart (SWR). He is closely associated with the London Philharmonic and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, which has, since January 1997, taken over the work of the London Classical Players.

For ten years, Norrington was an exclusive EMI artist. Now, again, he has a major contract with Decca, but also records for Sony and BMG, as well as EMI and Virgin Classics. He is currently recording a complete cycle of Vaughan Williams Symphonies with the London Philharmonic for Decca.

Norrington´s opera experience is as wide as that with Symphony Orchestras, Choirs and Chamber Orchestras. For 15 years, he was Music Director of the very successful Kent Opera, where he conducted over 400 performances of 40 different works. He has worked as a guest in Britain at Covent Garden and the English National Opera and in Italy at La Scala, La Fenice and the Maggio Musicale. He has also received invitations to conduct operas in Vienna, Berlin, Paris and Amsterdam.

Norrington was knighted in June 1997 and is a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, a Cavaliere of the Italian Republic, Prince Consort Professor of the Royal College of Music, an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music, an Honorary Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, a Doctor of Music at the University of Kent and a Doctor of the University of York. He lives in the Berkshire countryside with his choreographer wife and small son.

January 2004
Roger Norrington