02. November 2009 · Comments Off on This I Did Not Know · Categories: Links

Nearly everyone who listens to classical music will recognize this: “Sir Neville Marriner and St Martin-in-the-Fields”. I never really thought about when or how the group was formed.

NEVILLE Marriner puts down his cup and saucer and waves an invisible baton around the living room of his Kensington, London, home. “We used to rehearse right here,” says the world-famous conductor, 84, with a smile. “We’d move the furniture, kick out the cats and play 17th and 18th-century music just for fun. Back then we had no intention of doing any concerts at all.”

Back then was 1958. As principal second violinist with the London Symphony Orchestra, Marriner had grown bored of playing the constant rounds of Beethoven, Tchaikovksy and Wagner demanded by that institution. So he founded a chamber orchestra, a sort of glorified string quartet, comprised of 13 stellar players who came together once or twice a week on a carpet (long since replaced) next to the same grandfather clock, under the same watchful ancestral portraits. Afterwards, they all went out for dinner.

“After a while our keyboard player John Churchill, whose proper job was looking after the organ at St Martin-in-the-Fields” – the famous steepled church in the northeast corner of Trafalgar Square – “proposed that we give a concert there on a Sunday. Most of us weren’t keen. We were already playing concerts with the LSO and besides, we didn’t think there’d be an audience.”

Marriner’s eyes sparkle. “John said, ‘Oh come on, there will be people left over from the service and others will walk in off the street’. So we agreed,” he adds. “And now look.”

RTWT. Do read it … a couple of “funnies” and a good comment about musicians compared to conductors when it comes to pay. And the guy has been married to the same woman for 51 years! (Now I don’t want anyone to spoil this picture … please don’t be telling me about anything sketchy, K?)

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