The scholarly English conductor, Roger (Arthur Carver) Norrington, is a native of Oxford, England, where he came from a University family with strong musical connections. He was a talented boy soprano, studied the violin from the age of 10, and singing from 17, but his higher education was in English Literature at Cambridge University. After several years’ experience as a violinist, tenor and conductor, he returned to his studies at the Royal College of Music under Sir Adrian Boult.
In 1962, Roger Norrington founded the Schütz Choir and thus began a 30 year exploration of historical performance practice. With the Choir, he gave many innovative concerts and made numerous recordings for Argo/Decca, mainly of 17th and 19th century repertoire. Such performances were at first accompanied by the London Baroque Players, but as the period of rediscovery moved forward, the London Classical Players became the normal partner. When Norrington reached the era of the symphony in his research, the London Classical Players took on a life of its own and the Schütz Choir went into semi-retirement.
The London Classical Players leapt to world-wide renown with Roger Norrington’s dramatic performances of L.v. Beethoven symphonies on period instruments. The recordings of these, now available on Virgin Veritas, won prizes in the UK, Germany, Belgium and the USA and are still the most sought after readings of modern times. Many other ground-breaking recordings followed, not only of Haydn, Mozart and L.v. Beethoven but a stream of 19th century masters: Berlioz, Weber, Schubert, Felix Mendelssohn, Rossini, Robert Schumann, which carried the research forward into the Romantic Movement. Most recently remarkable recordings of Brahms’ 4 Symphonies, of Wagner, Bruckner and Smetana have moved the boundaries even further …
Roger Norrington’s work on scores, on sound, on orchestra size, seating and playing style, has had a profound effect on the way 19th century music is now perceived and, not surprisingly, he is in great demand by symphony orchestras world-wide. He works regularly with orchestras in Berlin, Vienna, Salzburg, Amsterdam, Paris, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and London. He is Chief Conductor of the Radio Sinfonie Orchester in Stuttgart and of the Camerata Academica in Salzburg. He is closely associated with the London Philharmonic and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment which has, since January 1997, taken over the work of the London Classical Players.
Roger Norrington’s opera experience is as wide as that with symphony orchestras, choirs and chamber orchestras. For 15 years, he was Music Director of the very successful Kent Opera, where he conducted over 400 performances of 40 different works. He has worked as a guest in Britain at Covent Garden and the English National Opera and in Italy at La Scala, La Fenice and the Maggio Musicale. He has also received invitations to conduct operas in Vienna, Berlin, Paris and Amsterdam.
Roger Norrington was knighted in June 1997 and is a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, a Cavaliere of the Italian Republic, Prince Consort of the Royal College of Music and Professor and Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music, an Honorary Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, a Doctor of Music at the University of Kent and a Doctor of the University of York. He lives in the Berkshire countryside with his choreographer wife and small son.