The great British conductor Sir Neville Marriner has died at the age of 92.
The founder of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Marriner is one of the most prolific recording artists in the history of classical music.
Because of that ubiquity, he is perhaps a little underrated. Though few will ever say it, Marriner and the Academy made a huge contribution to the Baroque revival, probably as significant in the early years as that of the period practice pioneers.
He will of course be long remembered as one of the musicians responsible for the popularization of Mozart. He presided over the “Amadeus” soundtrack album, one of classical music’s all-time bestsellers.
A student of Pierre Monteux, he was a relatively understated presence on the podium. The results were never less than handsome and distinguished, but were also often inspired and even fiery.
I saw him in live performance several times, always with great satisfaction.
He continued to conduct until quite recently. I heard him conduct at Disney Concert Hall last year.
I met him, briefly, just once. I saw him sitting in the audience at another concert at Disney Hall and approached him to tell him I had enjoyed his concert at Segerstrom Concert Hall a night or two before. He was a most friendly fellow, without airs, who seemed to actually delight that someone had recognized him.
The Academy’s obituary says he died peacefully on the night of Oct. 2.