Born on the 1st August 1941 in Igualada (Barcelona province, Spain), Jordi Savall i Bernadet is a cellist, violist, choir director, orchestra leader, and composer. His repertoire spans music dating from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, and from the Baroque period until the nineteenth century. Savall was married to the Spanish soprano Montserrat Figueras from 1968 until her death in November 2011, and is the father of Arianna and Ferran Savall; both singers and musicians.
After studying the cello at Barcelona Conservatory (where he first met Montserrat, his future wife), Jordi Savall took up the viola da gamba during a visit to Paris, during which he discovered the Marin Marais manuscripts at the National Library. From this point on, he never ceased in working to revive an instrument that had fallen into great disrepute. Savall soon met the great Belgian violinist Wieland Kuijken, a supreme reference point in the field. From there, further studies followed at the Schola Cantorum in Basel, Switzerland, where he received instruction from Professor August Wenzinger, another titan of the cello and the viola da gamba, whom he would go on to succeed.
Working notably with the lutenist Hopkinson Smith, he formed the Hespèrion XX ensemble that later became Hespèrion XXI; a formation which would work to revive forgotten and poorly documented scores. In 1991 the violist revealed himself to a wider audience, and in doing so showcased the viola da gamba on his film soundtrack for ‘Tous Les Matins du Monde’ by Alain Corneau. In 1994, he also participated with his two ensembles (the Hespèrion XX and the Capella Reial de Catalunya) in the development of medieval music for the film ‘Jeanne la Pucelle’ by Jacques Rivette.
Since 1968, Jordi Savall has made more than 120 records, as a soloist, and in his various capacities with the Schola Cantorum, the Ensemble Ricercare, La Capella Reial de Catalunya, and the Hespèrion XX & XXI, often working in collaboration with his wife and their children. Savall remains dedicated to studies of early Spanish music, through which he has tried to revive the arts of improvisation and authentic instrumentation. He formed his own record label, Alia Voxen, in 1997. In the course of his career, Savall has received many distinctions, including Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters (1988), Creu de Saint Jordi (1990), Musician of the Year from the ‘World of Music’ organisation (1992), the Grammy award for Soloist of the Year (1993), the Médaille d’or des Beaux-Arts (1998), Member of Honour from the Vienna Konzerthaus (1999), an Honorary Doctorate from the Catholic University of Louvain (2002), a ‘Victory Music’ for his entire career (2002), the Médaille d’or from the Parliament of Catalunya (2003), the Medal of Honour from the Deutsche Schallplattenkritik (2003), a European Ambassadorship for Intercultural Dialogue (2007), and the Léonie Sonning Music Award (2012).
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