Sir Neville Marriner was born in Lincoln in 1924 and studied the violin first in London at the Royal College of Music and then at the Paris Conservatoire with René Benedetti. After teaching for a year at Eton College, in 1949 he joined the Martin String Quartet, and with musicologist Thurston Dart formed the Jacobean Ensemble, which specialized in 17th- and 18th-century music. From 1952 to 1968 he was a violinist with the London Philharmonia and with the London Symphony Orchestra, of which he was principal second violin for twelve years beginning in 1956. During this period he also formed the Virtuoso String Trio, and then, in 1959, the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. Sir Neville gravitated increasingly toward conducting and took lessons from Pierre Monteux. His first appointment was in 1969 with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. In 1979 he became music director of the Minnesota Orchestra, holding that post until 1986, when he returned to Europe as music director of the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra (until 1989). Throughout the whole period he continued to work with the Academy. As his conducting career progressed, the orchestra’s original basis in music of the Baroque expanded to include Viennese classics, Romantic, and 20th-century works, as well as opera, notably Mozart and Rossini. His interpretations of Corelli, Vivaldi, Bach, Haydn, Rossini, Dvořák, Bartók, Stravinsky, Britten, and Tippett are highly esteemed, but there is hardly a corner of the repertoire in which the vitality and elegance of Sir Neville’s leadership have not brought him—and the Academy—great distinction. He was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1979 and was knighted in 1985.
Marriner passed away on October 2, 2016.