Marc Minkowski is a French conductor of mostly Baroque works and French Neoclassical music. His family background is scientific, musical and literary. His father was Alexandre Minkowski. Originally trained as a bassoonist, he began his musical career as a bassoonist, playing both in modern orchestras and in such period-instrument ensembles as Les Arts Florissants, René Clemencic's Clemencic Consort of Vienna, Philippe Herreweghe's La Chapelle Royale, or Philippe Pierlot's Ricercar Consort. He began conducting from an early age, gathered his initial experience as a conductor in France, and subsequently studied with with Charles Bruck at the Pierre Monteux Conducting School in Hancock, Maine, USA. In 1984 he won First Prize at the first International Early Music Competition in Bruges.
In 1982, at the age of 20, Marc Minkowski founded Les Musiciens du Louvre, a Paris-based period-instrument ensemble, to perform Baroque and Classical repertoire. The orchestra was dedicated to showcasing French Baroque music, which has championed works by Marin Marais (opera Alcione), Jean-Joseph Mouret (opera Les amours de Ragonde), Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Jean-Baptiste Lully (opera Phaëton for the official reopening of Opéra National de Lyon in 1993), Jean-Philippe Rameau (opera Hippolyte et Aricie), and Mondonville. The ensemble has also revived lesser-known George Frideric Handel operas, such as Teseo, Amadigi, Riccardo Primo and Ariodante, as well as several operas by Christoph Willibald Gluck including Armide (at the Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles), Alceste and Iphigénie en Tauride (at the English Bach Festival at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden). They have also performed works of Monteverdi, Purcell, Mozart, Haydn and L.v. Beethoven. The orchestra now perform regularly in the most important French theatres (the Paris and Lyon Operas, the Châtelet, the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Cité de la Musique, Salle Pleyel, the Aix-en-Provence Festival) as well as throughout Europe (London, Amsterdam, Madrid, Vienna, and Salzburg). Les Musiciens du Louvre relocated to Grenoble after 1996, where they are associated with the prestigious Maison de la Culture de Grenoble.
Marc Minkowski's career focus has shifted from an initial specialized interest in the Baroque to a wider interest in opera, and since 1996 Mozart’s operas have held a favoured place in his musical life. He conducted Mozart's Idomeneo in 1996 at the Opéra National de Paris. In 1997 he made his debut at the Salzburg Festival with Mozart's Entführung aus dem Serail (Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra), conducting the same opera there one year later. He conducted Le Nozze di Figaro at the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, in Tokyo and Toronto, Mitridate, re di Ponto at the Salzburg Festival, Die Zauberflöte in Bochum, Madrid and Paris, and in 1996 Don Giovanni in Toronto. He has also conducted G.F. Handel's Giulio Cesare in Amsterdam, Paris and Zürich (with Cecilia Bartoli) and his Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno in Zürich, Donizetti's La Favorite in Zürich, and Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride, among others. He gave highly acclaimed performances of G.F. Handel's Ariodante at Welsh National Opera in 1994, a co-production of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas with the Opéra-Atelier, Toronto, and Houston Grand Opera in 1994-1995. In April 2001 he conducted G.F. Handel's Ariodante with Les Musiciens du Louvre and Anne Sophie von Otter in Paris, Grenoble, Dresden and Salzburg. Future appearances include performances of Mozart's Figaro with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra in Aix-en-Provence, Strauss' Die Fledermaus with the Mozarteum Orchestra at the Salzburg Festival 2001, G.F. Handel's Giulio Cesare in Amsterdam and Offenbach's La belle Hélène in Paris with Les Musiciens du Louvre.
French opera is also fundamental to Marc Minkowski, and he has performed popular works from this repertoire such as Manon (Monte Carlo), The Tales of Hoffmann (Lausanne, Lyon), Carmen (Paris, Bremen), and Pelléas et Mélisande (first in Leipzig with the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, then with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra at the Opéra-Comique to celebrate the centenary of the work in 2002). He has also presented Boieldieu’s La Dame Blanche at the Opéra-Comique, Auber’s Le Domino Noir at La Fenice, Massenet’s Cendrillon at Flanders Opera, Meyerbeer’s Robert le Diable at the Berlin State Opera, and Offenbach productions with the stage director Laurent Pelly in Paris, Lyon, Geneva and Lausanne. He has performed and recorded critically acclaimed works by Jacques Offenbach: Orphée aux Enfers, La belle Hélène and La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein. From 2004 he has regularly been invited to the Paris Opera where in June 2006 he conducted a new production of Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride which attracted intense critical acclaim, particularly for the contribution of his own orchestra, Les Musiciens du Louvre Grenoble. In 2007, again with his own orchestra and again by proposing the creation of a “new” sonority on period instruments, he scored a significant triumph in a new production of Carmen which he conducted at the Châtelet Theatre in Paris.
Since 2003 Marc Minkowski has had a special relationship with Zürich Opera, where he has conducted G.F. Handel’s Il trionfo del Tempo and Giulio Cesare, Donizetti’s La Favorite and Rameau’s Les Boréades de Rameau as well as Fidelio (2007) and Agrippina (2009). Future seasons will see him conduct Paris Opera, the Châtelet, the Opéra comique, La Monnaie, the Zürich opera as well as the Netherlands opera in Amsterdam. Amongst the great opera singers with whom he has regularly worked are Cecilia Bartoli, Felicity Lott, Anne Sophie von Otter, Magdalena Kožená or Mireille Delunsch amongst others.
With Les Musiciens du Louvre Marc Minkowski has continued to open up and explore the symphonic repertoire, a repertoire which now occupies an increasingly important place in his conducting activities elsewhere as well. During Autumn 2006 he toured Europe with Les Musiciens du Louvre, presenting the twelve London Symphonies of Haydn, as well as a tour to South America with Mozart’s final two symphonies (No. 40 and No. 41). In addition to L.v. Beethoven, Schubert, Felix Mendelssohn and Johannes Brahms, he devotes himself to defending the works of the great French composers such as Berlioz, Georges Bizet, Chausson, Franck, Debussy, Gabriel Fauré, Albert RousselFrancis Poulenc, Greif and Lili Boulanger.
As well as Les Musiciens du Louvre, Marc Minkowski is active in the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Berliner Philharmoniker, Orchestre de Paris, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Mozarteum Salzburg and Dresden Staatskapelle. At the Sacrum Profanum Festival in Cracovie Poland, he recently conducted an all Gershwin programme as well as a programme entirely devoted to John Adams with Sinfonia Varsovia. Recent guest conducting engagements include the Dresden Staatskapelle, Berliner Philharmoniker, Bayerischer Rundfunk Symphonieorchester, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Deutschs Symphonie Orchester, National Orchestra of Spain and Cleveland Orchestra with whom he has a special relationship and who have invited him back for the 2008-2009 season.
Marc Minkowski and Les Musiciens du Louvre signed an exclusive contract with Archiv Produktion in 1994. Their first recording for the label, Hippolyte et Aricie, gained immediate success and received numerous prizes. This was followed by recordings of G.F. Handel's oratorio La resurrezione, Cantates françaises (by Blamont, Clérambault and Stuck), Rameau's Anacréon, Charpentier's Te Deum and Messe de minuit and G.F. Handel's Ariodante with Anne Sophie von Otter (Diapason d'Or 1998, Cannes Classical Award 1999). Among his most recent releases are recordings of Gluck's Armide, Roman Motets by G.F. Handel, Rameau's Dardanus (Diapason d'Or 2000), G.F. Handel's Italian Cantatas with Magdalena Kožená and Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride. Other important recordings are: Une symphonie imaginaire by Rameau, La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein by Offenbach and Opera proibita with Cecilia Bartoli, Symphonies No. 40 and 41 by Mozart, an album dedicated to the romantic works of Offenbach and a DVD of the Salzburg performances of Mitridate. He has also recorded for Erato and EMI's Virgin Classics labels. In 2007 he signed a contract with the French record label Naïve, and a first recording of Georges Bizet’s Arlésienne and extracts from Carmen will be released in 2008 (the editor Naïve will also be publishing a biography of Marc Minkowski by Serge Martin).
In 1990 Marc Minkowski was awarded the Orphée d'Or as "Best Young Conductor" by the French Académie du Disque Lyrique. In 2004, he was named Chevalier du Mérite.