Sir John Eliot Gardiner is revered as one of the world’s most innovative and dynamic musicians, constantly in the vanguard of enlightened interpretation, who stands as a leader in today’s musical life. His work with the Monteverdi Choir (MVC), English Baroque Soloists (EBS) and Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique (ORR), of which he is founder and Artistic Director, has marked him out as a key figure in the early music revival and a pioneer of historically informed performances. As a regular guest of the world’s leading symphony orchestras, such as the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO), Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Gardiner conducts repertoire from the 17th to the 20th century. He was awarded the Concertgebouw Prize in January 2016.
The extent of Gardiner’s repertoire is illustrated in the extensive catalogue award-winning recordings on major labels (including Deutsche Grammophon, Decca, Philips and Erato); in addition to works by Renaissance and Baroque composers, his discography includes Mozart, Schumann, Berlioz, Elgar and Kurt Weill, recorded with his own ensembles and with leading orchestras including the Vienna Philharmonic. In 2013 Deutsche Grammophon released a special 30-CD collection to celebrate Gardiner's 70th birthday.
Since 2005 his recordings have appeared on the Monteverdi ensembles’ independent label, Soli Deo Gloria (SDG), established to release the series of live recordings made during Gardiner’s Bach Cantata Pilgrimage in 2000, for which he received Gramophone’s 2011 Special Achievement Award and a Diapason d’or de l’année 2012. SDG’s catalogue has expanded to include recordings of other Bach masterpieces, a Brahms symphony cycle, and a cappella recordings with the Monteverdi Choir. With the ORR, Gardiner has released recordings of Beethoven’s Symphonies Nos 2 & 7 (2012) and Missa Solemnis (2013), live from their sell-out tour of Europe and the USA. Sir John Eliot Gardiner has received more Gramophone Awards than any other living artist. His many accolades for his recordings include two GRAMMY Awards.
Gardiner has conducted opera productions at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (ROH), at the Vienna State Opera and at Teatro alla Scala, Milan. From 1983 to 1988 he was artistic director of Opéra de Lyon, where he founded its new orchestra. Following the success in 2008 of Verdi Simon Boccanegra at ROH, he returned there to conduct Verdi Rigoletto in 2012, and Mozart Le nozze di Figaro in 2013, celebrating 40 years since his debut in 1973. In autumn 2015, he returned to ROH to conduct Gluck Orphée et Eurydice, with the MVC and EBS, co-directed by Hofesh Schechter and John Fulljames.
Gardiner has a close relationship with the LSO, with whom he concludes in 2016/17 his Mendelssohn cycle of the complete symphonies and smaller works, recorded for LSO Live, performances of "pace, clarity and flaming-eyed conviction" (Financial Times). Other guest conducting highlights this season include returns to the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks. He returned in 2016 to the Berliner Philharmoniker for Stravinsky Oedipus Rex.
2016 marked Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s 65th performance at the BBC Proms, of Berlioz Roméo et Juliette with the ORR, subsequently performing the same work at the Festival Berlioz in La Côte Saint-André. The 2016 Edinburgh International Festival included two concerts with the MVC, Schumann Manfred with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and Bach St Matthew Passion with the EBS, sung from memory and part of a year-long European tour of the work. In 2017, Gardiner, the EBS and MVC undertake a year’s celebration of Monteverdi, performing his three surviving operas around the world.
An authority on the music of J.S. Bach, Gardiner’s book, Music in the Castle of Heaven: A Portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach, was published in October 2013 by Allen Lane, leading to the Prix des Muses award (Singer-Polignac). In 2014 Gardiner became the first ever President of the Bach-Archiv Leipzig. He became the inaugural Christoph Wolff Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Harvard University in 2014/15.
Among numerous awards in recognition of his work, Sir John Eliot Gardiner holds honorary doctorates from the New England Conservatory of Music and from the universities of Lyon, of Cremona and of St Andrews; he is an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music, an Honorary Fellow of King’s College, London, of the British Academy and of King’s College, Cambridge, where he himself studied and from where he received an Honorary Doctorate. In 2008 he received the prestigious Royal Academy of Music Bach Prize. Gardiner was made Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur in 2011 and was given the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2005. In the UK, he was made a Commander of the British Empire in 1990 and awarded a knighthood for his services to music in the 1998 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
Times, July 2016
It was Gardiner’s own galvanising approach that mattered most. A score sometimes dismissed as diffuse and uneven suddenly seemed like one of the mightiest cornerstones of romanticism.
Guardian, five stars, February 2016
It was the consistent suavity of the LSO’s playing under Gardiner’s baton that impressed most of all … the winds were outstanding in Mendelssohn’s shimmering score … such a lovingly attentive performance.
Financial Times, five stars, November 2015
Rarely can Bach's Mass in B minor have felt so joyful ... John Eliot Gardiner lifts his colleagues to new heights of virtuosity ... This is Bach at his most glorious and uplifting.