Nicholas Snowman

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Michael Nicholas Snowman OBE (born 18 March 1944)[1] is a British arts administrator and the chairman of the jewellers Wartski.[2] In 2000, The Telegraph called him "one of the most influential figures in British classical music for the past 30 years".[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Wartski, Grafton Street, London

Nicholas Snowman is the son of Kenneth Snowman, and grandson of Emanuel Snowman, both jewellers and chairmen of Wartski.[2] He was educated at Highgate School and Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he founded the Cambridge University Opera Society.[4] He is a distant cousin of the actress Claire Bloom.[5]


Snowman is the co-founder of London Sinfonietta and its general manager from 1968 to 1972.[6] In 1976, Snowman, the composer and conductor Pierre Boulez and French culture minister Michel Guy co-founded the Ensemble InterContemporain in Paris.

Snowman was general director (Arts) at the Southbank Centre, London from 1986, becoming Chief Executive in 1992 until 1998.[7]

On 28 October 1990, he appeared on Desert Island Discs, choosing Smiley's People by John le Carré as his favourite book and a coffee machine as his luxury item.[8]

From 1998, he succeeded Anthony Whitworth-Jones as general manager of Glyndebourne Festival Opera. However, he left suddenly in 2000, because "he was resigning to spend more time with his family". A claim that he was sacked was denied by Snowman and by Gus Christie, executive chairman and son of Sir George Christie.[3] From 2003-09, he was director of Opéra national du Rhin in Strasbourg, France.


Snowman was appointed a Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France in 1985, and raised to Officier in 1990, Order of Cultural Merit (Poland) 1990, Chevalier of the National Order of Merit (France) 1995.[6] In 1999 he was awarded honorary membership of the Royal Academy of Music.[9] He was awarded an Officier of the Order of the British Empire in the 2014 Birthday Honours «For services to promoting British cultural interests in France».[10]

Personal life[edit]

He married French-born Margo Michelle Rouard in 1983, and together they have one son, Hector Snowman.[4][5] Sir Harrison Birtwistle composed Hector's Dawn on the occasion of his first birthday.[11]


  1. ^ Rubinstein, William D.; Jolles, Michael A.; Rubinstein, Hilary L. (2011). The Palgrave dictionary of Anglo-Jewish history. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 928. ISBN 978-1403939104.
  2. ^ a b Mullaly, Terence (1 August 2002). "Kenneth Snowman". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
  3. ^ a b Reynolds, Nigel (4 November 2000). "Sacking is denied as opera head bows out". The Telegraph. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
  4. ^ a b Cummings (ed), David (2000). International who's who in music and musicians' directory : (in the classical and light classical fields) ; 2000/2001 (17 ed.). Cambridge: Melrose Press. p. 604. ISBN 978-0948875533.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  5. ^ a b Palmer, Martin (13 March 1994). "How We Met: Claire Bloom and Nicholas Snowman". The Independent. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
  6. ^ a b "(Michael) Nicholas SNOWMAN". Debrett's People of Today. Archived from the original on 3 May 2014. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
  7. ^ Lister, David (7 April 1998). "Snowman quits South Bank for Glyndebourne". Independent. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  8. ^ BBC Radio 4 (28 October 1990). "Nicholas Snowman". Desert Island Discs. BBC. Retrieved 10 May 2014.
  9. ^ "Honorary Members (Hon RAM)" (PDF). Royal Academy of Music. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  10. ^ "Birthday Honours 2014. Diplomatic Service and Overseas List" (PDF). The Government of The United Kingdom. 2014. Retrieved 27 March 2016.
  11. ^ "Hector's Dawn". Universal Edition AG. Retrieved 8 May 2014.