The original Academy of Ancient Music (= AAM) was established in 1726 for the purpose of studying and performing Ďoldí music - defined initially as anything composed at least a century earlier, but soon to include more contemporary composers, most notably George Frideric Handel.
The modern revival of The Academy was founded by Christopher Hogwood in 1973 to give audiences an experience of music as it might have sounded at the time it was written. The ensemble brings together specialists in every branch of baroque and classical performance style, playing instruments of the appropriate period in appropriate numbers. For choral works it is joined either by The AAM Chorus or a cathedral or collegiate choir with boysí voices. Extending its policy of working with directors other than Hogwood, in 1996 it appointed Paul Goodwin as Associate Conductor and Andrew Manze as Associate Director.
The AAM is especially well known for its pioneering recordings under Christopher Hogwood for Decca. Having been the first orchestra to record all of W.A. Mozartís symphonies on period instruments, The AAM has since recorded the complete piano concertos and symphonies of L.v. Beethoven, and is part way through recording the complete Haydn symphonies and the complete W.A. Mozart piano concertos with fortepianist Robert Levin. Opera releases on CD include Purcellís Dido and Aeneas, G.F. Handelís Orlando and W.A. Mozartís La Clemenza di Tito with Cecilia Bartoli, which was awarded the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik and a Grammy nomination. The award-winning combination of Hogwood/Bartoli/AAM continued with Haydnís Orfeo and G.F. Handelís Rinaldo (released in autumn 2000). The AAM Chamber Ensemble has recorded (also for Decca) classical repertoire including clarinet quintets by W.A. Mozart and Weber, L.v. Beethovenís Septet, Schubertís Octet and Trout Quintet, and the quintets for fortepiano and wind by W.A. Mozart and L.v. Beethoven.
Under the direction of Paul Goodwin and Andrew Manze, The AAM also records for Harmonia Mundi USA. The first recording with Andrew Manze, J.S. Bachís solo and double violin concertos, was released in 1997 to wide critical acclaim, and was shortly followed by Antonio Vivaldiís Concert for the Prince of Poland and the complete Concerti Grossi Op.6 of G.F. Handel (nominated for a Grammy). The most recent Manze/AAM recording, the complete Concerti Grossi of Geminiani (after Arcangelo Corelli Op.5), was released in July 2000. Under Paul Goodwin The AAM has recorded a selection of Christmas music by Heinrich Schütz and his contemporaries, W.A. Mozartís rare Singspiel Zaïde and The AAMís first commission, John Tavenerís Eternityís Sunrise, which met with an enthusiastic critical response on its release in 1999. A second Tavener recording, Total Eclipse, is to be released in 2001.
Several recording projects have also resulted in videos or television programmes, which include G.F. Handelís Messiah, Haydnís Creation, a South Bank Show filmed at Esterhaza about Haydnís symphonies and The Sorceress, which features Dame Kiri Te Kanawa singing music from various G.F. Handel operas. In 1997 the AAMís performances in Salzburg of W.A. Mozart piano concertos played by Robert Levin on W.A. Mozartís own fortepiano were filmed for release on video.
The AAM spends much time on tour, especially in Europe but also paying regular visits to North and South America and Asia. The 2000/01 season marks the start of a new London season at St Johnís, Smith Square and includes major tours to the USA (under Andrew Manze) and Japan (under Christopher Hogwood). It also includes a European tour of Haydnís Orfeo with Cecilia Bartoli (again under Christopher Hogwood) and an Arts Council funded tour of the UK under Paul Goodwin of a programme featuring The AAMís latest commission, David Bedfordís Like a Strand of Scarlet. The following season 2001-2002 includes major tours to South America (under Andrew Manze and Christopher Hogwood) and the USA (under Christopher Hogwood with fortepianist Robert Levin).