Roger Norrington

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Sir Roger Norrington
Norrington conducting at rehearsal
Norrington conducting at rehearsal
Background information
Birth nameRoger Arthur Carver Norrington
Born (1934-03-16) 16 March 1934 (age 88)
Oxford, Oxfordshire, England
Occupation(s)Conductor, advisor
Years active1962–present

Sir Roger Arthur Carver Norrington CBE (born 16 March 1934) is an English conductor. He is known for historically informed performances of Baroque, Classical and Romantic music.

In November 2021 Norrington announced his retirement.[1]


Norrington is the son of Sir Arthur Norrington, and his brother is Humphrey Thomas Norrington. He studied at The Royal Conservatory of Music[2] in Toronto, Dragon School, Oxford, Westminster School, Clare College, Cambridge and the Royal College of Music under Adrian Boult among others. Norrington played the violin, and worked as a tenor through the 1960s. In 1962 he founded the Schütz Choir (later the Schütz Choir of London).

Conductor in Britain and US[edit]

From 1969 to 1984, Norrington was music director of Kent Opera. In 1978, he founded the London Classical Players and remained their musical director until 1997. From 1985 to 1989, he was principal conductor of the Bournemouth Sinfonietta. He is also president of the Oxford Bach Choir. In the US, from 1990 to 1994, he was music director of the Orchestra of St. Luke's.

With his wife, the choreographer Kay Lawrence, he formed in 1984 the Early Opera Project to complement his concert work in period-style opera, beginning with Claudio Monteverdi's L'Orfeo at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino that year, and touring Britain in 1986.

From Salzburg to Stuttgart[edit]

In Europe, he was principal conductor of the Camerata Salzburg from 1997 to 2006, and principal conductor of the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra from 1998 to 2011.[3] On 28 July 2016, he conducted the final concert of the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra in London at the Royal Albert Hall as part of The Proms, before its scheduled merger with the SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg.[4]

Other activities: Boston, Bremen, Zurich[edit]

He was artistic advisor of the Boston Handel and Haydn Society from 2006 to 2009. He was principal guest conductor of the Orchestre de chambre de Paris and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen. He was principal conductor of the Zurich Chamber Orchestra from 2011 to 2016.[5][6] He has conducted over 50 world premieres, and has appeared regularly with the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic, and major orchestras throughout the world.

Historically informed performance[edit]

Norrington is best known for historically informed performances of Baroque, Classical and Romantic music. He is a member of the historically informed performance movement. Norrington has advocated a limited or no use of vibrato in orchestral performances,[7] which has brought him both positive and adverse criticism.[8] He has strictly followed Beethoven's original metronome markings in his symphonies, despite critical comment that these markings were "miscalculated".[8] He has conducted recordings of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Berlioz, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, Bruckner, and Mahler on period and modern instruments.[9] In particular, Norrington makes very sparse use of the vibrato, often uses very fast tempos, and varies the placement of the instruments on stage. Especially with the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra Norrington has developed a very individual sound, which is often dubbed by the trade press as Stuttgart Sound.[10][11] This refers to the synthesis of historically informed music making with the means of a modern and flexible orchestra. Symphonic cycles which Norrington interpreted in recent years with the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra have received worldwide acclaim.

There are critics among other musicians, on Norrington's performance practice; for example, the violist of the Melos Quartet, Hermann Voss, drew two tough caricatures to Norrington's vibrato-free string sound in 2005, adding: "Except for the Stuttgart Feuilleton, the New Stuttgart Style finds only contempt and scorn."[12]


In August 2008, Norrington appeared in the reality TV talent show-themed television series, Maestro on BBC Two, when he led the judging panel.[13] He conducted the First Night of the Proms in 2006 and the Last Night of The Proms on 13 September 2008.[14]

Personal life[edit]

Norrington has been married twice. He and his second wife, Kay Lawrence, have a son, Tom.[15]

Awards and honours[edit]

He was appointed OBE in 1980, CBE in 1990 and Knight Bachelor in 1997. He is a patron of Bampton Classical Opera and the Orchestra of St Paul's. He is an honorary fellow of Clare College Cambridge and holds honorary degrees from the Universities of York and Kent and an honorary doctorate from the Royal College of Music.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Sir Roger Norrington Announces Final Performance". 9 November 2021.
  2. ^ William Littler (30 December 2011). "Sir Roger Norrington Performs Classics The Old Way". Toronto Star. Retrieved 17 October 2012.
  3. ^ Götz Thieme (25 February 2010). "Stéphane Denève soll es werden". Stuttgarter Zeitung. Archived from the original on 1 March 2010. Retrieved 6 March 2010.
  4. ^ Ivan Hewett (29 July 2016). "BBC Proms 2016: reviews of the best Proms so far". Telegraph. Retrieved 30 July 2016.
  5. ^ "Roger Norrington neuer Chefdirigent des Zürcher Kammerorchesters". Basler Zeitung. 15 January 2010. Retrieved 9 July 2011.
  6. ^ "Daniel Hope to replace Sir Roger Norrington in Zurich". Gramophone. 28 April 2015. Retrieved 2 May 2015.
  7. ^ Roger Norrington (16 February 2003). "Time to Rid Orchestras of the Shakes". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 April 2008.
  8. ^ a b Allan Kozinn (6 August 2003). "Reading a Score, and Beethoven's Mind". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 April 2008.
  9. ^ John Rockwell (2 January 1994). "Norrington's Historical Trek Gathers Fresh Momentum". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 April 2008.
  10. ^ Bettina Straub: Stuttgart-Sound aus der Liederhalle. In: Deutschlandfunk, 25.11.2005
  11. ^ Kerstin Gebel: Pionier am Dirigierpult: Roger Norrington wird 85. In:, 14. März 2019
  12. ^ Hermann Voss: Hackordnungen im Quadrat - Bleistiftzeichnungen von Hermann Voss. Res Novae Verlag, Aulendorf 2017, P. 80ff, ISBN 978-3981825510
  13. ^ "Eight passionate amateurs bid to become BBC Two's Maestro" (Press release). BBC. 23 May 2008. Retrieved 24 May 2008.
  14. ^ Richard Morrison (15 September 2008). "Proms 75 & 76: Last Night of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall". The Times. Retrieved 6 March 2010.
  15. ^ He also has two offspring, Ben (born 1966) and Amy, by his first marriage. Nicholas Wroe (21 July 2007). "Speed it up". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 6 March 2010.

External links[edit]

Cultural offices
Preceded by
Ronald Thomas
Principal Conductor, Bournemouth Sinfonietta
Succeeded by
Preceded by
no predecessor
Music Director, Orchestra of St. Luke's
Succeeded by
Preceded by Principal Conductor, Camerata Salzburg
Succeeded by
Preceded by Principal Conductor, Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
Succeeded by
Preceded by Principal Conductor, Zurich Chamber Orchestra
Succeeded by