Pickett began as a trumpet player. He played trumpet while student at Marling School, Stroud, Gloucestershire. He met Antony Baines and David Munrow who encouraged him to try early woodwind instruments such as the recorder, shawm and rackett. He studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. He was forced to give up the trumpet after being kicked in the mouth while being assaulted on the London Underground at the end of his first year there. In 1972 he became Professor of Recorder and Historical Performance, a post he held for 25 years. He has played for the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, The English Concert, the English Chamber Orchestra, the London Mozart Players and many other orchestras.
Pickett introduced theatrical elements into his concerts, including foyer performances of juggling and fire-eating. In 1976 he joined the Albion Band, a folk-rock band led by Ashley Hutchings. They played a mixture of traditional folk music and medieval tunes on a wide range of instruments – curtals, shawms, recorders, crumhorns, bagpipes, rackets, chalumeaux and synthesiser. Also in the group was John Sothcott from the early music group St George's Canzona, playing vielle, citole and crumhorn. Philip was on all four singles by the group. In 1988 he released his only solo album, called The Alchemist. It included a few of his own compositions in a mock-medieval style.
In 1993 he became artistic director of the Purcell Room Early Music series. In the same year he was appointed director of Early Music at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, which is a within a mile of the Purcell Room. His ensemble, The Musicians of the Globe, specialised in English music from the 16th and 17th centuries. CDs were sold, in particular at the Globe Theatre, and concerts were given on the stage.
The Bones of All Men
The 1998, he released The Bones of All Men, a collaboration with Richard Thompson and members of Fairport Convention, in which he played early music tunes with a modern rock rhythm section and electric guitar.
The New London Consort
Pickett leads The New London Consort simultaneously with the musicians of the Globe. This has a wider repertoire, covering English, Spanish, Italian and German medieval and Renaissance music. Much of the material is drawn from Philip's original research in the libraries of Europe. From 1994 to 1997 he was founder and director of the Aldeburgh Early Music Festival.
Pickett taught at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London from 1972 to 1997. He was arrested on 4 December 2013, in connection with historical sexual abuse allegations centred on Guildhall.
With the Albion Band
- Dancing Days Are Here Again (2007, recorded 1976)
- The Prospect Before Us (1977)
- Rise up Like The Sun (1978)
- The BBC Sessions (1998, recorded 1973 - 1978)
- Stella Maris (1987)
- "Hopping Down in Kent" / "Merry Sherwood Rangers" (1976)
- "The Postman's Knock" / "La Sexte Estampie Real" (1977)
- "Poor Old Horse" / "Ragged Heroes" (1978)
- "Pain and Paradise" / "Lay Me Low" (1979)
With The New London Consort
- Elizabeth and Jacobean Concert
- Music from the Time of Columbus
- Ars Subtilior
- Carmina Burana, Vols. 1 and 3
- Sinners and Saints, a compilation of previous recordings
- Bach: Brandenburg Concerti (complete)
- The Feast of Fools
- Praetorius: Dances from Terpsichore
- Vivaldi: Gloria RV 588 and Dixit Dominus RV 595
- The Sylvan and Oceanic Delights of Posilipo
- Tielman Susato, Dansereye 1551
With The Musicians Of The Globe
- Music From Shakespeare's Plays
- Ben Jonson's 'The Masque Of Oberon'
- A Shakespeare Ode On The Witches and Fairies
- Purcell's Shakespeare
- The Enchanted Island
- Nutmegs and Ginger
- Sir Henry Rowley Bishop: Songs for Shakespeare productions at Covent Garden
- The Alchemist (1988) (London NL 425 209-2)
- The Alchemist (1998)
With Richard Thompson
- The Bones of All Men (1998)
- "English Folk - The New St. George to Pyewackett". Rootsandrhythm.com. Retrieved 2014-07-23.
- "Goldberg magazine: interview with Philip Pickett, by Brian Robins, 2003". Goldbergweb.com. Retrieved 2014-07-23.
- Paul Gallagher (2014-01-05). "Former Guildhall School tutor arrested on suspicion of rape in the 1970s - Crime - UK". The Independent. Retrieved 2014-07-23.
- Official website
- J.S.Bach: The Brandenburg Concertos, a New Interpretation, by Philip Pickett
- Philip Pickett discography at Discogs