The English Baroque Soloists (= EBS) was formed in 1978 by Sir John Eliot Gardiner and has established itself as one of the great chamber orchestras of the world, with a particular reputation as a Mozart orchestra. For Philips it has recorded all of the mature symphonies (as well as the Requiem and Mass in C minor) and for DG Archiv it has recorded the complete piano concerto cycle with Malcolm Bilson, the first on period instruments.
1990 saw the launch of the six-year project to perform throughout Europe, and record for DG Archiv, the seven mature operas by Mozart. The Mozart Opera Project culminated with the London performances in 1995 of Die Zauberflöte, the seventh and final work in this giant undertaking. The seven operas in this project, (Idomeneo, La Clemenza di Tito, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Così fan tutte, Le Nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni and most recently Die Zauberflöte) have now been released and have received outstanding critical acclaim, with the recording of Idomeneo, the first of the operas to be released, winning the Best Opera Award in the 1991 Gramophone Awards.
The international standing of the EBS has resulted in part from the enormous success of their foreign engagements. Invitations abroad have included such prestigious venues as La Scala, Milan, the outdoor amphitheatre in Pompeii, the Berlin Philharmonic Hall, the Châtelet Theatre in Paris, New York's Lincoln Center, the Sydney Opera House, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw and St Mark's, Venice. In the summer of 1991, the EBS coached period-instrument technique and styles following the theme of the "Singspiel" at the Internationale Bachakademie in Stuttgart. The invitation was received following the success of their 1988 residency which featured the Orpheus legend with the music of Monteverdi, Haydn and Gluck.
The EBS made its Salzburg Festival début in Summer 1990 with three concerts, and has since returned to Salzburg, Vienna and Innsbruck on many occasions. On the bicentenary of Mozart's death in December 1991, John Eliot Gardiner conducted the EBS and the Monteverdi Choir in the Mozart Requiem performed in the Palau de la Música Catalana and broadcast live by BBC television. In August 1994 the English Baroque Soloists under Gardiner, together with the Monteverdi Choir, returned to Salzburg for a performance of Mozart's C minor Mass, which also featured in their concerts at the 1994 San Sebastian and Lucerne Festivals and at the BBC Proms.
The EBS performed Haydn's Die Schöpfung at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in February 1995, adding this oratorio to their previous DG Archiv recording of Die Jahreszeiten. In commemoration of the 1995 tercentenary of the great English composer's death, the English Baroque Soloists along with the Monteverdi Choir under John Eliot Gardiner's baton gave performances of Purcell's masque King Arthur and a programme of his Odes for St Cecilia's Day. Continuing with events marking this occasion, the Monteverdi Choir joined the English Baroque Soloists to record the soundtrack to the film by the acclaimed director Tony Palmer, 'England, My England', with a script by the late John Osborne.
The EBS under John Eliot Gardiner undertook a successful tour of the Far East in 1996 peforming Bach's Mass in B minor (BWV 232). In January 1998 the EBS recorded Haydn's Creation Mass with John Eliot Gardiner and the Monteverdi Choir for Philips Classics following concert performances at the Barbican Centre, in Vienna and at the Salzburg Festival. Further engagements for the 1998/99 season included a European Tour with George Frideric Handel's Dixit Dominus and Antonio Vivaldi's Gloria, followed by concert performances of Bach Cantatas in December and recordings for DG in April 1999.