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John Eliot Gardiner (b1943)


A descendant of the composer Balfour Gardiner, John Eliot Gardiner was just six years old when he first heard the music of Monteverdi, with which he was later to be closely associated, at the Dartington Summer School of Music directed by Nadia Boulanger. He studied Arabic and history at King’s College, Cambridge, where he founded the Monteverdi Choir in 1964 after conducting the Oxford and Cambridge Singers on a tour of the Middle East; following his graduation from Cambridge he studied music with Thurston Dart at King’s College, London, and with Nadia Boulanger in Paris, as well as conducting with George Hurst. Gardiner made his London conducting debut with the Monteverdi Choir at the Wigmore Hall in 1966, and in the following year marked the four hundredth anniversary of Monteverdi’s birth with a performance in Ely Cathedral of that composer’s Vespers of 1610 in an edition prepared by himself. This was repeated with great success at the Promenade Concerts in 1968, the year in which he founded the Monteverdi Orchestra to perform with the Choir. His operatic debut came the following year, conducting The Magic Flute for English National Opera, and in 1973 Gardiner appeared for the first time with the Royal Opera Company at Covent Garden directing Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride.

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