Neville Marriner, L.A. Chamber Orchestra’s first music director and ‘Amadeus’ maestro, dies at 92
Neville Marriner, the first music director of the L.A. Chamber Orchestra and the founder of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields chamber orchestra in London, died Sunday night, the academy said. He was 92.
The cause of death is unknown.
Millions of moviegoers who may not recognize Marriner’s name have nonetheless been touched by his work: He served as music supervisor for the film version of “Amadeus” and conducted the soundtrack, which went on to be one of the bestselling classical recordings of all time.
Born April 15,1924, in Lincoln, England, Marriner studied at the Royal College of Music and the Paris Conservatoire. He began his career as a violinist, eventually playing in the London Symphony Orchestra. Later, what started as a group of friends gathering to rehearse in Marriner’s living room became the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, a premier chamber ensemble that gave its first performance in its namesake London church in 1959.
The academy’s statement Sunday said that the group had one of the largest discographies of any chamber orchestra worldwide, and that its partnership with Marriner was the most recorded of any orchestra and conductor.
In 1969, Marriner found his way into Southern California music history as the founding music director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, a position he held until 1978.
“He very quickly established an atmosphere of intimacy, transparency, vibrancy and energy that has defined Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and its commitment to the Southland ever since,” Scott Harrison, the orchestra’s executive director, said in a statement. “We will miss him deeply — the musician and the man — and we extend our condolences to his entire family.”
Though London was his home, Marriner returned to Los Angeles as recently as last year. At age 90, he led the Colburn Orchestra in Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto and Holst’s “The Planets” at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Ahead of the concert, Marriner surveyed the combined lives of the two orchestras he founded — 101 years at the time.
“Oh, really. My God,” he told The Times. “I hadn’t thought of it that way, no indeed. That’s a century there, anyway. That’s good.”
In that same interview, Marriner spoke about what being his age meant to him as an artist.
“You do begin to reflect on your career and wonder if there is anything left that you want to achieve, whether you should switch off now and just enjoy the freedom of having no responsibilities at all,” he said. “It certainly made me examine my past performances a little carefully, and I suppose rather regret that I’ll never have a chance to redeem some of the bad ones.”
Marriner credited his time in Los Angeles with helping to build his reputation in Europe by putting him in contact with the pupils of distinguished music teachers such as violinist Jascha Heifetz and cellist Gregor Piatigorsky.
Marriner was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1979 and was knighted in 1985. Last year, he was made a member of the Order of Companions of Honour for his service to music. He was also music director of the Minnesota Orchestra from 1979 to 1986.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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