The Dutch tenor, conductor and music pedagogue, Marius van Altena (born Marius Hendrikus Schweppe), graduated from the Conservatorium van Amsterdam.
Primarily Marius van Altena was active as concert and oratorio singer, whereby vocal works from the Baroque period formed the focal point of his repertoire. He was one of the pioneers of historically informed performance of Baroque and Renaissance music. He has cantatas by Dietrich Buxtehude and J.S. Bach and concert and sacred vocal music by Matthaeus Pipelare, Claude le Jeune, Orlande de Lassus, Carissimi, António Marques Lésbio, Manuel Machado, Joannes de Latre, Clemens non Papa (Jacob Clement), and Heinrich Schütz. Expanded concert tours took him to Germany, England, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Japan, Australia, Mexico and the USA.
In 1973, Marius van Altena was the Evangelist in the first historically informed performance in the Netherlands of J.S. Bach's Matthäus-Passion (BWV 244). Johan van der Meer conducted the Koor Groningse Bachvereniging, and the performance was recorded live. With Johan van der Meer he performed and recorded J.S. Bach's Mass in B minor (BWV 232) in 1975 at the Holland Festival, the orchestra was La Petite Bande with concert master Sigiswald Kuijken). In 1979 Johan van der Meer conducted J.S. Bach's Johannes-Passion (BWV 245) in Groningen. Between 1971 and 1985, Van Altena sang the tenor part in several Bach cantatas in the project to record all sacred cantatas, conducted by Gustav Leonhardt.
Marius van Altena has collaborated with the choir Junge Kantorei, conducted by Joachim Martini, singing in Eberbach Abbey Monteverdi's Marienvesper (1977, 1978, 1984), J.S. Bach's Matthäus-Passion (BWV 244) (1981) and Mass in B minor (BWV 232) (1982). In 1988, he was a soloist for a recording of sacred music by Orlando di Lasso, "Patrocinium musices", conducted by Erik Van Nevel. In 1992, he was part of a vocal ensemble which performed Renaissance madrigals, conducted by Konrad Junghänel, including works by Andrea Gabrieli, Ippolito Baccusi, Girolamo Conversi, Giovanni Ferretti, Giovanni Giacomo Gastoldi, Giovanni de Macque, Luca Marenzio, Philippe de Monte, Cornelis Verdonck and Hubert Waelrant. In 1995, he recorded six cantatas by D. Buxtehude, conducted by Jos van Immerseel. He has performed as a member of the Huelgas Ensemble, conducted by Paul Van Nevel. In 1995 they recorded "Tears Of Lisbon", a collection of works by Portuguese Renaissance composers such as Joaquim Pimentel, Fontes Rocha, Paulo Valentim, Manuel Mendes, Armando Machado, Francisco Viana and Fernando Tordo.
Marius van Altena appeared occasionally also in performances of Baroque operas, such as at the Holland Festival in 1974 in Eumelio by Agostino Agazzari, in 1974 at the same Festival in Seelewig by Sigmund Gottlieb Staden, and in 1980 in Glucks L'Isle de Merlin. From 1980 to 1984 he participated in opera performances of the group Spectaculum in Vienna, which presented stage works by Johann Joseph Fux, Kaiser Leopold I. von Österreich, and Francesco Bartolomeo Conti.
Marius van Altena has also been employed as a pedagogue at Hague Conservatory and the Tilburg Conservatory. Since the mud 1980s, he has occasionally conducted performances of vocal works. In 1999 and 2005 he was on the jury of the competition for Baroque instruments and singing of the festival Musica Antiqua in Brugge.
Recordings: EMI/Telefunken (Cantatas of J.S. Bach, Thamos, König von Ägypten by W.A. Mozart), Christophorus-Verlag (Il figliuol prodigo by Kaiser Leopold I.), RCA (Madrigals of Monteverdi), TIS (Vocal works of Monteverdi), Accent (Oratorios of Carissimi), Channel Classics (Cantatas of D. Buxtehude).