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Martin Pearlman (born May 21, 1945, Chicago) is an American conductor, harpsichordist, composer, and early-music specialist. In the1973-74 season, he founded Boston Baroque (originally called Banchetto Musicale), the first permanent period-instrument orchestra in North America. Many of its original players went on to play in or direct other ensembles in what became a growing field in the American music scene. He later founded the chorus of that ensemble and has been the music director of Boston Baroque from its inception up to the present day.
He grew up in Oak Park, Illinois, where he received training in composition, violin, piano, and theory. He received a B. A. in 1967 from Cornell University, where he studied composition with Karel Husa and Robert Palmer and began studying harpsichord with Donald Paterson. In 1967-68, he studied harpsichord in Amsterdam with Gustav Leonhardt on a Fulbright Grant. In 1971, he received an M. M. in composition from Yale University, studying composition with Yehudi Wyner and harpsichord with Ralph Kirkpatrick. In 1971, he moved to Boston, where he won the Erwin Bodky competition as a harpsichordist and began performing widely in solo recitals and concertos. In 1973-74, he founded Boston Baroque (which was called Banchetto Musicale until 1992). With that ensemble, he has conducted many American and world period-instrument premieres of operas, choral works, and instrumental works, including Mozart operas and major works of Bach, Handel and Monteverdi. He has directed Boston Baroque in an annual subscription series in Boston, toured with the ensemble in the U.S. and Europe, and made recordings (principally for Telarc International), three of which have been nominated for Grammy awards (see www.bostonbaroque.org).
With modern-instrument ensembles, Pearlman made his Kennedy Center debut conducting The Washington Opera in Handel's Semele, led the National Arts Center Orchestra of Ottawa in the Monteverdi Vespers, and has conducted the Minnesota Orchestra in Minneapolis, the Utah Opera in Salt Lake City, Opera Columbus, Boston Lyric Opera, San Antonio Symphony, the New World Symphony, Omaha Symphony, Alabama Symphony and others. He is the only conductor from the period-instrument field to have performed live on the internationally televised Grammy Awards show.
Pearlman's work as a composer has been influenced by, among others, Carter, Boulez, and certain composers of the following generation. His recent works have included chamber music, piano works, and The Creation according to Orpheus for solo piano, harp and percussion with string orchestra. His music for three Samuel Beckett plays (Words and Music (play), Cascando, ... but the clouds ...) was commissioned by and premiered at the 92nd Street Y in New York for the Beckett centennial in 2006 and produced at Harvard University in Cambridge.
Since 2002, he has been a professor at Boston University, where he directs Baroque ensembles and teaches in the Historical Performance department of the School of Music.
Conducting Boston Baroque on Telarc International
- Bach, Brandenburg Concertos
- Bach, The Four Orchestral Suites
- Bach Magnificat & Vivaldi Gloria
- Bach, Mass in B Minor
- Cherubini, Requiem in C minor (with Beethoven, Elegischer Gesang and * Cherubini, Marche Funèbre)
- Gluck, Iphigènie en Tauride
- Handel, Messiah
- Handel, Concerti grossi, op. 6 (complete)
- Handel, Music for the Royal Fireworks and Water Music (complete)
- Monteverdi, Vespers of 1610
- Mozart, Requiem (completion by Robert Levin)
- Mozart, Jupiter Symphony and Flute Concerto (with Jacques Zoon, flute)
- Mozart, The Impresario (Der Schauspieldirektor) and The Beneficent Dervish (Der wohltätige Derwisch), Singspiel by Emanuel Schikaneder
- Mozart et al., Der Stein der Weisen (The Philosopher's Stone), world premiere recording of singspiel from Schikaneder's theater.
- Music of the American Moravians ("Lost Music of Early America")
- Purcell, Dido and Aeneas and orchestral works
- Vivaldi, The Four Seasons (with Christina Day Martinson, violin)
Earlier recordings conducting Banchetto Musicale
- Mozart, Coronation Mass and Solemn Vespers (Harmonia Mundi)
- Haydn, Lord Nelson Mass (Arabesque)
- Handel, L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato (Arabesque)
Solo harpsichord recordings on LP
- Music of the Couperin Family: Louis, François, and Armand-Louis (Titanic)
- Scarlatti sonatas (Titanic)
Editions and completions
- Armand-Louis Couperin, critical edition of the complete music for one and two harpsichords (includes completions of two Quatuors for two harpsichords).
- Monteverdi, L'incoronazione di Poppea, performing edition.
- Monteverdi, Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria, performing edition.
- Cimarosa, Il maestro di cappella, orchestration and edition (from surviving piano reduction).
- Moravian music, performing editions from manuscripts of 33 works, recorded with Boston Baroque for Telarc International.
- Purcell, The Comical History of Don Quixote, performing version.
- Mozart, Lo sposo deluso, completion of surviving fragments.
- Martin Pearlman's web site
- Boston Baroque web site
- Martin Pearlman's Boston University faculty page
- Bach Cantatas biography page
- Boston Baroque recordings on Telarc/Concord Music Group
- Remembering Robert Moffat Palmer (1915-2010)