Cultural Percussionist

Sir Neville Marriner Day

Sir Neville Marriner, CH, CBE (15 April 1924 – 2 October 2016) was an English violinist who became “one of the world’s greatest conductors“. He founded the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, and his partnership with them is the most recorded of any orchestra and conductor. Marriner was born in Lincoln, England, the son of Herbert Marriner, a carpenter, and his wife Ethel (née Roberts). He was educated at Lincoln School (then a grammar school), where he played in a jazz band with the composer Steve Race. He initially learned the violin as well as the piano from his father, and later studied the violin with Frederick Mountney. In 1939, he went to the Royal College of Music in London, getting the opportunity to play among the second violins of the London Symphony Orchestra, then conducted by Henry Wood, because many of its members had joined up after the outbreak of the Second World War. He joined up himself in 1941, serving in a reconnaissance role in the British Army, but was invalided out in 1943 with kidney problems. He returned to the Royal College, where he continued his studies with the violinist Billy Reed. He then attended the Paris Conservatoire, where he studied with the violinist René Benedetti.

Marriner was briefly a music teacher at Eton College. In 1948, he became a professor of the Royal College of Music. In 1948 or 1949, he took up the position of second violinist of the Martin String Quartet, continuing to play with the quartet for 13 years. He had met the harpsichordist Thurston Dart while recuperating from kidney damage during the war, and they formed a duo together, which expanded to the Virtuoso String Trio with Peter Gibbs. These were the precursors to Dart’s Jacobean Ensemble, in which Marriner played from 1951. He played the violin in two London orchestras: the Philharmonia Orchestra in the early 1950s, and the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) as principal second violin (1954–69). He also played with the chamberorchestras of Reginald Jacques and Boyd Neel, as well as the London Mozart Players.

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