John Eliot Gardiner

English Conductor (b.1943, Fontmell Magna, Dorset, England)

A key figure of the modern musical landscape, John Eliot Gardiner has conducted a wide range of repertoire with both orchestral and choral forces. He is a leading authority on Baroque music, with a particular interest in Johann Sebastian Bach. He recently wrote a biography of Bach, entitled "Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven".

John Eliot Gardiner studied history and music at King’s College Cambridge, under Thurston Dart, a British musicologist and conductor. During his studies he received a bursary from the British government, which allowed him to spend a year in Paris studying with the pianist and teacher Nadia Boulanger

During his time at King’s College, John Eliot Gardiner founded the Monteverdi Choir, in 1964. As part of his apprenticeship with conductor George Hurst, he performed with his young ensemble at Wigmore Hall in London in 1966. The following year, for the four hundredth anniversary of Claudio Monteverdi’s birth, John Eliot Gardiner conducted the Vespers of 1610 in a new edition he himself had realised. The success of this endeavour encouraged him to found the Monteverdi Orchestra. His passion for 17th and 18th century music led him to reedit works by Jean-Philippe Rameau – Dardanus, Les Fêtes d’Hébé and Les Boréades – which he presented in a series of concerts in London, from 1973 to 1975. His passion also led him to found The English Baroque Soloists in 1978, an orchestra who play baroque and classical repertoire on period instruments. 

In 1980, John Eliot Gardiner became the Musical Director of the CBC Radio Orchestra in Vancouver, before being entrusted with musical directorship of the Lyon Opera and the NDR Symphony Orchestra. Alongside these activities he was also Artistic Director of the Handel Festival in Göttingen. The Revolutionary and Romantic Orchestra came into being in 1989, following in the tradition of the English Baroque Ensemble Soloists. This ensemble’s repertoire extends from the end of the 18th century to the beginning of the 20th century, and gives celebrated performances of works by Beethoven, Berlioz, Schumann, Brahms, Debussy and Offenbach. John Eliot Gardiner also works with contemporary music, he has has conducted works by Jean-Guy Bailly, Alexander Goehr and Aribert Reimann.

Six Landmark Dates in the Life of John Eliot Gardiner 

1967-1968 – Studies with Nadia Boulanger in Paris
1969 – Conducts his first opera, The Magic Flute by Mozart with the English National Opera
1983-1988 – Becomes Artistic Director of the Opéra de Lyon
1993 – Conducts the first modern performance of the Messe Solennelle by Berlioz, the score had been lost for over a century before it was discovered.
2000 – Conducts the complete Bach Contatas with the Monteverdi Choir and The English Baroque Soloists, to mark the 250th anniversary of Bach’s death
2014 – Releases a biography of Bach, “Bach: Music in the Castle Heaven”