The French conductor, Jean-Claude Malgoire, exhibited talent as a child and after studying music locally he enrolled at the Paris Conservatory, where he studied oboe and received first prizes there for his solo playing and in chamber music.
Jean-Claude Malgoire embarked on a brilliant career as an instrumentalist at the age of 20, crowned by the first prize in 1968 in the Geneva International Competition. His interest in contemporary music brought a recording of music by Holliger, Castiglioni and Shinohara and in 1972 Bruno Maderna chose him as a principal in the Ensemble Européen de Musique contemporaine. He was subsquently appointed by Charles Munch as cor anglais soloist in the Orchestre de Paris. He played as an oboist for symphony orchestras such as the Orchestre de la RATP, the Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire, and with the Orchestre de Paris. He often played jazz in night clubs in his early career with Michel Portal, Bernard Lubat, and other notable instrumentalists.
At the same time Jean-Claude Malgoire developed his interests as a conductor and musicologist, with his first opera recordings in 1975 paving the way for engagements in Copenhagen, Stockholm, Covent Garden in London, the Paris Opéra Garnier, Karlsruhe, Palermo, and the Teatro Real in Madrid. In 1966, while continuing his career as an oboist, he founded La Grande Écurie et la Chambre du Roy, a period-instrument ensemble devoted largely to Baroque music. He eventually abandoned playing oboe in orchestras (his last post was with the Orchestre de Paris), explaining he was not ultimately suited to the role. In 1981, he founded a second ensemble, this one the aforementioned Atelier de Tourcoing, largely devoted to the performance of Baroque and other early operas. Tours abroad in the 1970's quickly established the high artistic values of Malgoire and his ensemble, notably in two Rameau productions, the 1974 Les Indes galantes at the English Bach Festival and the 1978 Hippolyte et Aricie at Covent Garden. Later triumphs included the 1986 Aix-en-Provence festival production of Campra's Tancrède.
Jean-Claude Malgoire has been one of the more important French conductors of the latter 20th and early 21st centuries. He has focused heavily on Baroque music, though his repertory also includes operas by Mozart and Salieri. As music director of La Grande Écurie et la Chambre du Roy and l'Atelier Lyrique de Tourcoing, he has given many highly acclaimed concerts and opera productions, and made numerous recordings with major labels.
Jean-Claude Malgoire has more than 140 recordings to his credit, many of them of works recorded for the first time. Much of this has been brought about with the orchestra of La Grande Écurie et la Chambre du Roy, with which he has given more than two thousand concerts throughout the world. As the head of the Atelier Lyrique de Tourcoing, he has conducted operas that have twice won the prize for best opera production of the year, in 1983 with L’incoronazione di Poppea and in 1995 for the Mozart/Da Ponte trilogy Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte. In addition to his interest in the music of the 17th and 18th centuries, he is one of the few conductors to have explored repertoire ranging from the 11th to the 20th centuries. In Europe he has appeared with orchestras including the Orchestre National de France, Orchestre National de Lille, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre National d’Île de France, Dresdner Philharmonie and Kraków Philharmonic Orchestra.
Jean-Claude Malgoire has often been credited with unearthing previously lost manuscripts from the Baroque era. When he discovered two arias from Act I of Antonio Vivaldi's Catone in Utica, he helped create a new version of the work for the acclaimed November 2001 live performance in Tourcoing.
Jean-Claude Malgoire has continued his activities in the new century with numerous presentations of rare and familiar operas: in April 2002, he conducted l'Atelier Lyrique de Tourcoing in performances of Salieri's Falstaff at the Municipal Theater in Tourcoing and also led a production there by the same forces of George Frideric Handel's Rinaldo in October 2005.