Academy of St Martin in the Fields founder Sir Neville Marriner, 92, has died

October 2, 2016, 10:01 AM · Conductor and Academy of St Martin in the Fields founder Sir Neville Marriner has died at the age of 92, according to the Academy of St Martin in the Fields.

He peacefully in his sleep on Sunday, the website said.

Sir Neville Mariner
Sir Neville Marriner. Photo by Richard Holt; courtesy of the artist.

"I am deeply saddened by the news of Sir Neville Marriner’s passing," said Joshua Bell, who has been Music Director of London-based Academy of St. Martin in the Fields since Marriner handed him the baton in 2011 and became Life President. "He was one of the most extraordinary human beings I have ever known. I will remember him for his brilliance, his integrity, and his humor, both on and off the concert platform. Maestro Marriner will always be the heart and soul of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, and we musicians of the orchestra will miss him dearly."

A violinist born in Lincoln, England, Marriner started his musical studies with his father and later studied at the Royal College of Music and the Paris Conservatoire. He played in the Martin String Quartet and in the London Symphony Orchestra, before he founded the Academy of St Martin in the Fields chamber orchestra in 1958 with four of his musical colleagues. They originally rehearsed in his flat, naming the ensemble after the venue where they gave their first concerts.

Marriner and Academy of St Martin in the Fields recorded copiously with a number of different record labels; one of his many projects included the soundtrack for the 1984 Academy Award-winning film, Amadeus.

Marriner also was the first music director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (1969-1978); was music director of the Minnesota Orchestra (1979-1986); and was principal conductor of the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra (1986-1989). He was also oldest conductor to lead at the Proms, in 2014 at the age of 90.

Here is an extremely detailed obituary from The Guardian and a personal remembrance by Norman Lebrecht.

BELOW: The Academy's performance of the opening to Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20, conducted by Sir Neville Marriner in April 2014.

And from 1988, an early collaboration between Sir Neville Marriner, Joshua Bel and Academy of St Martin in the Fields: a recording of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with Decca; this is the first movement:


October 2, 2016 at 05:49 PM · Wow. The end of an era. I remember in the 70's & 80's, especially, you couldn't walk into a record store (records!) without about @ least 60% of the recordings with Sir Neville Marriner & St. Martin in the Fields in one of their great recordings.

October 3, 2016 at 10:00 AM · There was a New Yorker cartoon of a man listening to the radio while reading. The announcer said "...performed by the Academy of St Martins in the Fields," at which point the man's parrot said "Neville Marriner conducting."

October 3, 2016 at 01:48 PM · Hmm, I wasn't able to find that cartoon, but it sounds New Yorker style humor. There was not much in Laurie's obituary about Marriner's skill as a violinist, but I don't think you can co-found an outfit like the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields without being a pretty awesome player.

October 3, 2016 at 02:17 PM · He was in the Philharmonia Orchestra when that was the hardest regular gig in London to get, and then was principal second in the LSO, I think. Whether or not he was a great soloist (and I've never heard a solo recording of his), he certainly knew how to hold up his end in some pretty good groups.

October 3, 2016 at 03:39 PM · While he certainly must have had some ability on the violin, Marriner later referred to his violin playing as like being a speech impediment for an actor during a description of how he came to be a conductor rather than a violinist. I read that as an indication that it was his abilities as a musician rather than as a violinist (to paraphrase Leschetizsky's famous comment to the young Artur Schnabel) which were the key to his early success.

Thanks to the hazards of a Minnesota winter, I had the distinct pleasure of a conversation with Marriner back in his early days as MD in Minnesota. He was charming and gracious despite the inconvenience caused by the weather, and I invariably think of that night whenever I see or hear his name. His music-making brought countless hours of enjoyment to a very large audience, and he will be missed.

October 3, 2016 at 03:47 PM · "There was a New Yorker cartoon of a man listening to the radio while reading. The announcer said "...performed by the Academy of St Martins in the Fields," at which point the man's parrot said "Neville Marriner conducting." "

That's great! I wish I could find the cartoon somewhere, I'd love to print it out and put it in my office. Marriner's recordings are what really got me into classical music listening beyond what I would listen to while studying as a child. With his stuff, the recordings were always at least good and some are spectacular. He will be missed; he looked awfully spry in the video posted above, at the young age of 90!

October 4, 2016 at 07:10 AM · My mistake-- having only heard about the cartoon. The Washington Post obit attributes the cartoon to Stereo Review:

As the critic and broadcaster Nicholas Kenyon observed in 1983, “Their sound was so well known on radio stations that Stereo Review once ran a cartoon in which a radio announcer was saying, ‘... played now by the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields . . .’ and a parrot in the room added, with a glazed look in its eyes, ‘Neville Marriner conducting.’ ”

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