Sir Roger Norrington

Hello, music lovers. I believe Roger Norrington is one of the greatest conductor-interpreters of classical to romantic music. He becomes quite popular in Japan with his exciting, brilliant performance with RSO Stuttgart. His recording of Beethoven's 9th won the best performance award here... what a progress compared to the reception in some ten years ago!

After the successful 13 years with RSO Stuttgart, Sir Roger became the principal conductor at Zurich Chamber Orchestra (until 2015). Now he regularly conducts ZKO, Orchestre de Chambre de Paris, Deutsches Sinfonie-Orchester, etc.

not because pure tone is "authentic" but because it is beautiful, expressive and exciting.

Sir Roger at stage rehearsal in 2010 Japan tour

News and Updates

Norrington related excerpts from recent microblog posts. Mostly links to concert reviews with a few Japanese notes.

Beethoven cycle with NHK Symphony Orchestra of Japan

Sir Roger and the NHK s.o., the Japan's leading orchestra, has been performing all Beethoven's Symphonies since 2011. So far, they have made wonderful sounds of 1st and 2nd (2011), 3rd, 4th and 9th (2012), as well as Piano Concertos and Overtures.

Norrington + RSO Stuttgart Japan/Asia tour 2010

Sir Roger and RSO Stuttgart visited Japan as well as China and Korea in May 2010. Elgar's Enigma Variation with wonderful pure tone was the best gift. Brahms' Violin Concerto featured young soloist Hyeyoon Park, whose performance was also brilliant. Haydn's Symphony No.1 was played in charming chamber orchestra style, while Dvorak's Symphony No. 7 was so rich and lyrical.

Celebrating 75th birthday

Sir Roger became age 75 on March 16, 2009, celebrated by memorial gala concerts both in Stuttgart and London, and several articles and interviews on media. Some pointers to interesting pages:

Award for Mozart recordings

Recordings of Mozart symphonies by Norrington and RSO Stuttgart are selected as "Bestenliste" by the German Record Critics' Award (Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik). This is the Quarterly Critics' Choice that recommends new releases which merit special attention either for the quality of interpretation or creativity, or for their value to the repertoire.

Norrington + RSO Stuttgart revisited Japan in early 2008

RSO Stuttgart announced its schedule of 2007/2008 season, including Japan tour in January and February. Regular concerts would not include Mahler or Bruckner, but some Romantic repertoires such as Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony and Dvorak's 9th Symphony would be quite interesting performances.

Pictures are from stage rehearsal on January 29th.

Norrington at stage rehearsal of Eroica

In Suntory Hall, Tokyo, they played Beethoven's Eroica symphony and Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto with Janine Jansen. January 30.

Norrington and Yu Kosuge on Beethoven's 4th Piano Concerto After Brahms Symphony No.1

In Muza Kawasaki, Yu Kosuge played solo for Beethoven's 4th Piano Concerto (left). A magnificient perfoemance of Brahms Symphony No.1 (right). On February 8.

Mozart Symphonies by Norrington + RSO Stuttgart

Six live recording CDs of Mozart Symphonies were released from hänssler.

These Mozart symphonies were recorded in two weeks at the European Music Festival Stuttgart in September 2006. More than 20 Mozart symphonies, ranging from his earliest to his last ten, were chosen to represent the superb range of his output. They included each of the "types" (symphony, serenade, opera overture), and were drawn from each of the years he wrote symphonies. As usual with the Stuttgart Radio SymphonyOrchestra, we aimed to recreate as far as possible the playing style of the period. We used the exact orchestra size of each symphony at its first performance (the smallest was a mere 18 players!).

I hope you will find Mozart's amazing creativity equally enjoyable in all his different orchestra sizes, and throughout all his different compositional periods, and that some of the sheer fun performers and audience had will be communicated in these very live Festival performances.

Sir Roger Norrington

DVD "The Romantics"

DVD:The Romantics

This very interesting DVD explores the creative and controversial interpretive choices of Maestro Norrington in a series of interviews, rehearsal footage, documentaries and live concert performances, featuring Hector Berlioz, Peter Tschaikowsky and Richard Wagner.

Brahms symphonies DVD and Mahler Symphony No.4 CD

Norrington and RSO Stuttgart played Brahms symphonies cycle in 2005, which resulted in DVD with his introductions to each symphony. Mahler's No.4 came from 2006 season's live.

Sir Roger Norrington remains principal conductor of RSO Stuttgart until 2011

The contract of the principal conductor of RSO Stuttgart is extended four more years, to 2011. The orchestra also announces its 2006/07 season program, which includes Bruckner's symphonies No.3, 4 and 6, as well as Britten, Elgar, and RVW.

DVD of Brahms and his 'Portrait'

Two DVD's are to be released. "Norrington conducts Brahms - The complete Symphonies" is a cycle performance with RSO Stuttgart in 2004/2005 season. The details of 'Portrait' is not sure, but will be some combinations of his concert and documentary film, broadcasted by SWR.

Berlioz Requiem

Berlioz Requiem

Norrington and RSO Stuttgart's 2003 performance of Berlioz's Requiem was released from hänssler in April 2006, as a hybrid of SCAD and CD.

Mahler, Schumann, Brahms ...

Mahler Symphony No.1 Shcumann Symphonies 1, 3 RVW 6 and Brahms 4

From hänssler, Mahler symphony No.1 and complete Schumann symphonies. From En Larmes, recent Brahmas symphonies with SWR Stuttgart, and RVW + Brahms with Leipzig Gewanthaus.

It is also announced that hänssler will release Mahler 4th and 5th in February 2006.

Mendelssohn's symphonies

Mendelssohn symphonies 1, 5 Mendelssohn symphonies 3, 4

Now available from hänssler, coupling of 1st + 5th and 3rd + 4th, each with bonus trucks of Sir Roger's concert introduction talks.

The best concet in Japan 2004

Cover The Japan's most popular classical music magazine Ongaku-no-tomo selected the performances by Sir Roger and RSO Stuttgart in last November as the best concert 2004. 35 critics and musical writers voted their bests and second bests, resulting Norrington the highest score. Jansons with Royal Concertgebouw got the same socore, sharing the best concert with RSO Stuttgart.

Huge success in 2004 Japan tour

Stage rehearsal at Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space. 2004-11-24

2004 Japan tour with RSO Stuttgart from Nov. 20 to Nov. 29 exhibited impressive huge success. They played Beethoven's symphonies Nos. 5 and 6 plus piano concerto No.1, as well as Mahler's symphony No.1 and RVW symphony No.6. Super exciting concerts.

'Pure tone' Pathetique

Symphonie pathetique

Symphonie pathetique of Tchaikovsky comes with excerpts from Prsifal of Wagner. Absolutely pure tone and well-thought phrasing. Must listen.

Celebrates 70th Birthday

On March 16, 2004, Sir Roger became age 70. Many concerts, radio program and TV program came out celebrating this unusually happy occasion. A TV program featuring the concert of Tchaikovsky's 6th symphony will also be released as CD.

Record Academy Award (Japan) 2003

The Beethoven's 9th by Norrington and SWR Stuttgart was awarded the grand prix (bronz) and the best symphony recording prize at the 41th 'Record Academy Award' in Japan.

Benvenuto Cellini 2003

Norrington and SWR RSO Stuttgart performed Berlioz's Benvenuto Cellini in August and September 2003, from Proms (London) to Wien to Berlin to Brüssel. It was so marvellous and gave "Rich experience of sensual and spiritual tones" (Evening Standard, August 18, 2003). Photo courtesy by Mr Henrik Hoffmann, the Project Manager of the orchestra.

New Berlioz CD's

L'enfance du Christ - Symphonie fantastique

From SWR 2002/2003 season, two Berlioz recordings came to the market. L'enfance du Christ, officially released by hänssler, is so beautiful and must-listen. Symphonie fantastique, a CD-R form Live Supreme, is somewhat more relaxed than the one with LCP, but very interesting. Live Supreme also provides Brahms Symphony No.4 with SWR-RSO Stuttgart. (September 2003)

SWR 2004 season and Japan tour

SWR-RSO Stuttgart announced its 2003/2004 season programs, which includes Schumann, Mendelssohn, as well as such modern composers as Nielsen, RVW, Martinu and Messiaen. It also plans the second Japan tour in November 2004. Sir Roger extends his contract as the chief conductor until 2007.

Norrington and SWR-RSO Stuttgart ranked world 8th

A Japanese music monthly, Ongaku-no-tomo asked 15 critics and journalists to select the best 10 orchestras in the world, in its 2003 August issue. The simple sum of their votes showed that Norrington and SWR-RSO Stuttgart was the 8th best in the world. The first was BPO and the second was VPO, as usual. (July 2003)

Norrington talks about vibrato

On February 16, 2003 edition of the New York Times, Norrington wrote an article "Time to Rid Orchestras of the Shakes". He argued that vibrato in orchestras was relatively new tradition, and orchestras could change their sound back to that of Mendelssohn, Brahms or Mahler, not because pure tone is 'authentic' but because it is beautiful, expressive and exciting. See online viersion of the article.

New DCs on Beethoven Symphonies, etc.

Finally. New Beethoven symphonies will arrive soon. Faszination Musik announced that it would release complete Beethoven symphonies by Sir Roger and SWR Stuttgart in early 2003.

At Hänssler's online shop, Beethoven's 9th, 5th+6th and 7th+8th as well as Schubert's 'Great' C major are already available.

Beethoven Symphonies 5/7 with SWR

Sounds Supreme record released a CDR of Beethoven's symphonies Nos. 5 and 7 with SWR Stuttgart, recorded in 2002-09 European Music Festival. Available as 2S-183. Dyamic, fast and brilliant. Must listen.

New book and CDR information

A Germany book Mythos Maestro:Dirigenten im Dialog (2002-04, Dieter David Scholz) includes an interview with Sir Roger Norrington, as well as those with such conductors as C.Davis, J.E.Gardiner, V.Gergiev, M.Gielen, N.Harnoncourt, P.Hirsch, R.Jacobs, M.Janowski, etc.

Sounds Supreme record released a CDR of 2002 BPO concert with Norrington, featuring Walton: Violin Concerto (Vn: J. Bell); Mozart: Symphony #39. CD number is 2S 084.

2002 Beethoven cycle

Norrington and SWR Stuttgart concluded their Beethoven cycle in the regular concerts with above 9th symphony on July 12. Also, they played all Beethoven's symphonies at European Music Festival in September.

New CDs to release

In June 2002, The Planets of Gustav Holst with SWR Stuttgart was released. Vivid and clear. Also, violin concertos of Mendelssohn and Beethoven released, with Joshua Bell solo vn and Camerata Salzburg came to the market.

Norrington and SWR Stuttgart appears Schwetzinger Festspiele

Norrington and SWR Stuttgart RSO played Mozart in 2002 Schwetzinger Music Festival. The picture was taken at the stage rehearsal of Mozart's Haffner serenade.

Norrington and SWR Stuttgart was selected one of the bests in 2001

The Ongaku-no-Tomo, Japan's leading monthly music magazie, featured a yearly program to select "The Best Concet" of the previous year, in its 2002-02 issue. According to the votes by 34 critics and jourunalists, Norrington and SWR Stuttgart ranked the best but one in orchestral concerts, while #6 throughout all categories. Some critics noted that Norrington's concert was most striking. Another music magazine also exhibited the same reults, the second best among orchestral performances in 2001.

Sir Roger's commnet:

What a joy it was for the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra and me to perform in Japan in November 2004. For many years, the Japanese public has been treated to high-quality guest concerts of the world's leading orchestras. The audiences were wonderful wherever we went, and the critics were very kind to us, especially in voting us best musical event of the season! It is gratifying to me that the quality of our Stuttgart RSO is held in such high esteem in such a discerning country as Japan! The competition of world-class orchestras against which we perform - the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonic, the Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, the New York Philharmonic and the London Symphony, for example - is tremendous, but the Stuttgart RSO has proven once again that it plays in the very top league. We enormously look forward to returning in 2007.

CD-R of Mahler Symphony 1 with OAE available

The Mahler Symphony 1 with OAE in 2001 is now available as CD-R from Sounds Supreme Production in the U.S. Try to find in your nearest minor label shop.

Some original illustration on Japan tour with SWR

A friend of mine drew fine illustrations after his suplendid concert in Tokyo (mostly in Japanese).

2001 Japan Tour

He has been the chief conductor of SWR Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart since 1998, and is establishing new musical frontier beyond modern/period criteria. He visited Japan first time with the orchestra in November 2001. The concert tour was a huge success, and many Japanese audience as well as critics found how impressive his music was.

For Schubert, trombones are seated at the center-back

They brought German main streem repertoir, form Mozart to Brahms, as well as Elgar. Their Elgar Symphony No.1 impressed Japanese very much, and Shubert 'Great' introduced Norrington's new adventure with modern orchestra.

The London Classical Players and ...

(as of 1999)

These recordings had been made with the London Classical Players, the orchestra he founded in 1978 with the specific aim of exploring historical performance practice. Norrington and LCP had performed and recorded many important repertories of classical to early romantic era, starting from Beethoven's 2nd and 8th symphonies and went down step by step, and broke-up in 1997.

Now Norrington continues his period performance with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. He also conducts London Philharmonic and became the principal conductor of SWR Radio Sinfonie Orchestra Stuttgart.

Career and Activities

(as of 1999)

Roger Norrington was born in Oxford in 1934. He sang and played the violin from an early age, and studied English Literature at Cambridge University and conducting at the Royal College of Music in London. He worked as a professional tenor and violinist and in 1962 he formed the Schütz Choir, with which he gave numerous innovative concerts and made many recordings. He was Musical Director of Kent Opera from its foundation in 1969 until 1984. From 1985-88, he was Principal Conductor of the Bournemouth Sinfonietta and Principal Guest Conductor of the Jerusalem Symphony.

Norrington has worked with most of the leading symphony orchestras in the United Kingdom. He is Associate Principal Guest Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and he also works with the Philharmonia, the London Symphony, the BBC Symphony, the English Chamber Orchestra, and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Until recently he was Music Director of the Orchestra of St. Luke's in New York and is much in demand as a guest conductor, appearing each season with the Boston Symphony and the San Francisco Symphony and making regular visits to the orchestras of Los Angeles, Chicago, Baltimore, Washington, and Montreal. He will become the principal conductor of Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra in fall 1998.

At the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, he conducted Handel's Samson in 1986, Britten's Albert Herring during the 1988/89 season, and Peter Grimes during 1989/90. Other operatic appearances include English National Opera, La Scala Milan, La Fenice Venice, and the Teatro Communale Florence. During his musical directorship of Kent Opera, he conducted over 400 performances of 40 different works, covering a wide range of works from Monteverdi to Tippett.

Although Norrington's interest in historical performance is best-known through his activities with the London Classical Players, he also appears with other organizations using period instruments including the Orchestra of the 18th Century, the Boston Early Music Festival, and the Netherlands Bach Society.

He is Co-Director with Kay Lawrence of Historic Arts, which administrates not only the London Classical Players but also the Early Opera Project, the Early Dance Project, the Schütz Choir, and Mr. Norrington's acclaimed "Experience" Weekends.

Roger Norrington is an Honorary Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge and has received honors which include an OBE in 1979, Cavaliere (Italy) in 1980, and a CBE in 1990. Now he is Sir Roger(since 1997).

Mr. Charles Maurer told me that, in British tradition, he can be called Norrington, Roger Norrington, or Sir Roger, but not Sir Norrington. That is because the honorific is medieval, dating from when British society was so small that surnames were little needed or used.


His innovative period instruments recordings with London Classical Players have received great public and critical acclaim and have won several important prizes, including the Gramophone Award for Period Performance in 1987 (Beethoven Symphonies Nos. 2 & 8), the Grand Prix Caecilia of Belgium in 1989 (Beethoven Symphonies Nos. 1 & 6), the Ovation Award in the USA (Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique), and the Deutsche Shallplattenpreis in 1990 (for the complete Beethoven Symphonies.

He also records many important pieces with London Philharmonic and SWR Stuttgart RSO, as well as Camarata Saltzburg and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

See Roger Norrington Complete Discography for more information.

Some references