Jordi Savall

Igualada, 1941

Biography

Jordi Savall is an exceptional figure in today’s music world. His career as a concert performer, teacher, researcher and creator of new musical and cultural projects, makes him one of the principal architects of the current revaluation of historical music. His task, which has earned him world renown and which is always brimming with live emotion and spectacular creative vitality, is one in which he has always sought to be faithful to historical music, which is to say the reappraisal of the value of repertoires as specific and as universal as the music of Europe, the Mediterranean and of the whole world.

Jordi Savall began his musical studies when he was six years old as a singer in the Children’s Choir in Igualada (Catalonia), his hometown, and then he went on to learn the cello, completing his studies in the Barcelona Conservatory (1964). In 1965 he started, as an autodicact, to study the viola da gamba and early music (Ars Musicae) in 1965, so he moved on to start advanced studies in 1968 at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis (Switzerland). There he succeeded his teacher August Wenzinger in 1973, and was teaching for some time many courses and master classes. With his three ensembles Hespèrion XXI (1974), La Capella Reial de Catalunya (1987) and Le Concert des Nations (1989), all founded together with Montserrat Figueras. Jordi Savall has explored and fashioned universe full of emotions and beauty, and has projected it to the world and to millions of music lovers, to introduce the viola da gamba and the music which had fallen into oblivion, becoming one of the most important protectors of the early music.

With his key contribution to Alain Corneau’s film Tous les Matins du Monde (winner of a César best-soundtrack award), his busy concert life (over 140 concerts a year) and recording schedule (6 recordings a year), and with the creation of his own record label Alia Vox (1998), he demonstrates that the early music does not have to be necessary elitist, so it can be very interesting for a public each time younger and more numerous.

Notable in his operatic repertoire are his participation in the rediscovery of Una cosa rara (performed in 1991) and Il burbero di buon cuore (performed in 1995 and 2012) by Vicent Martín i Soler. In 1993 he presented Claudio Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo for the first time at the Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona, (in 2002 it was recorded by the BBC-Opus Arte and published on DVD). He has also conducted Farnace by Vivaldi at the Teatro de la Zarzuela in Madrid (2001), Bordeaux (2003), Vienna (2005), Paris (2007) and published on CD by Alia Vox. He has also conducted J. J. Fux’s Orfeo ed Euridice, performed at the Styriarte Festival in Graz in 2010, and Vivaldi’s Il Teuzzone performed in 2011 in a semi-concert version at the Opéra Royal de Versailles.

His more than 40 years devoted to the recovery of musical heritage have earned him many distinctions:

Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture (1988).
The Generalitat de Catalunya awarded him the Creu de Sant Jordi (1990).
Musician of the year by Le Monde de la Musique (1992).
Soliste de l’Année at the 8èmes Victoires de la Musique (1993).
The Spanish Ministry of Education and Culture awarded him the Medalla de Oro de las Bellas Artes (1998).
Member of Honour of the Konzerthaus in Vienna (1999).
Prize of Honour from the Jaume I Foundation, Valencia.
Doctor Honoris Causa by the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium).
The Victoire de la Musique prize for his professional career (2002).
He was awarded the Parliament of Catalonia’s Gold Medal of Honour (2003).
Doctor Honoris Causa by the University of Barcelona in 2006.
Doctor Honoris Causa by the University of Évora (Portugal) in 2007.
Together with Montserrat Figueras, was named European Union Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue and Artist for Peace as part of UNESCO’s Goodwill Ambassadors programme (2008).
Ambassador of the Year for Creativity and Innovation by the European Union (2009).
Händelpreis der Stadt Halle, Germany (2009).
He was awarded the National Music Prize by the National Arts and Culture Council of Catalonia for his professional career, and for the book/audio CD Jerusalem, the city of the two peaces (2009).
Prix Méditerranée awarded by the Centre Méditerranéen de Littérature in Perpignan in the company of Montserrat Figueras (2009).
Awarded the UnescoCat International Prize (2009) together with Montserrat Figueras.
Praetorius Musikpreis Niedersachsen 2010 (Praetorius Music Prize) from the Ministry of Science and Culture of Lower Saxony in the category of Internationaler Friedensmusikpreis (International Music Prize for Peace).
Named Best Classical Musician by the Real Academia de las Artes y las Ciencias (Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences) – Music Prizes (14th Edition) for the recording The Celtic Viol (2010).
Named Best Classical Musician by the Real Academia de las Artes y las Ciencias – Music Prizes (15th Edition) for the recording The Celtic Viol II (2011).
Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters and Knight of the National Order of the Légion d’Honneur awarded by the Republic of France (2011)
The prestigious 2012 Léonie Sonning Music Prize, awarded by The Léonie Sonning Music Foundation of Denmark
York Early Music Festival Lifetime Achievement Award (2012, July)
Honorary Doctorate from the University of Basel (Switzerland), 2013
The Premi Atlàntida, awarded by the Publishers’ Guild of Catalonia, 2013
Gold Medal of the Catalan autonomous government, the Generalitat de Catalunya (2014, October)
Jordi Savall has received the 2015 Vaz da Silva Prize at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon, an award given in recognition of artists who protect and disseminate the European cultural heritage.
He has also been awarded the Gold Medal of the Fine Arts Circle in Madrid (2015).
Honorary Doctorate from the University of Utrecht (Holland), 2016

His recorded works, more than a hundred on a number of labels such as EMI, ASTREE/AUVIDIS and ALIA VOX, have also received numerous awards, notable amongst which are:

Grand Prix de l’Académie du Disque Français (1988 – 1989)
Grand Prix de l’Académie Charles Cros (1989 and 1993)
Prix de l’Académie du Disque Lyrique (1990)
Grand Prix de la Nouvelle Académie du Disque (1992)
“César” for the best theme music for the film, Tous les Matins du monde (1992)
Fondazione Giorgio Cini Prize, Venice (1995)
In 2003 he received the German critics’ Deutschen Schallplattenkritik Prize.
Numerous Midem Classical Awards (1999, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2010)
The book/audio Don Quijote de la Mancha: Romances y Músicas was awarded the Midem Classical Award in the Ancient Music category, and was also chosen “Disc of the year 2006”. This disc was also one of the five nominated for the 2006 Grammy Awards in Los Angeles (USA).
In 2008, the book/audio Christophorus Columbus. Paraísos perdidos was awarded the Midem Classical Awards Ancient Music Prize.
The book/audio CD Jérusalem. La Ville des deux Paix: La Paix céleste et la Paix terrestre (Jerusalem, the city of the two peaces: heavenly peace and terrestrial peace) was awarded the Premi Orphée d’Or by the Académie du disque lyrique 2008 and the 2008 Caecilia Prize, awarded by the Belgian press, for the best recording of the year as well as the 2010 Midem Classical Award.
The book/audio CD Dinastia Borgia won a Grammy Award 2012 in the category of Best Small Ensemble Performance and the International Classical Music Awards 2011 (ICMA) in the Early Music Category
The CD J. Ph. Rameau: L’Orchestre de Louis XV won the International Classical Music Awards 2012 (ICMA) in the Baroque Instrumental category
The CD-book Erasmus van Rotterdam: In praise of Folly won the International Classical Music Awards 2014 (ICMA) in the “Early Music”category
The CD-book Bal-Kan. Honey and Blood, Cycles of Life won the International Classical Music Awards 2015 (ICMA) in the “Early Music”category
The CD-book Guerre et Paix 1614-1715 won the International Classical Music Awards 2016(ICMA) in the “Best Collection” category

His concerts have also been awarded various distinctions:

In 2014 the concert “Jerusalem: the City of the Two Peaces” performed at the Melbourne Recital Centre and the Sydney Opera House, received the 2014 Helpmann Awards prize in the category of best Chamber or Instrumental Ensemble concert, in recognition of the value of musical performance spanning a history of more than 3000 years
In 2013, Jordi Savall and Andrew Lawrence-King won the “13th Annual Helpmann Awards” in the category of “Best Chamber & / or Instrumental Ensemble Concert” for their concert at the Melbourne Recital Centre

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