Marc Minkowski was one of the most promising conductors to emerge in the 1990s, having carved out a niche for himself (and his hand-picked ensemble, Les Musiciens du Louvre) in the lesser-known works of the French and Italian Baroque. In the competitive fields of early music and historical performance, he has garnered considerable critical acclaim and managed to bring works of relative obscurity to the attention of wider audiences. Although a number of leading conductors in the historical performance movement have begun to perform and record mainstream Classical and Romantic repertory, Minkowski was in the forefront of this development.
Born in Paris on October 4, 1962, Minkowski began his career as a bassoonist, becoming a baroque specialist during his tenure with such ensembles as Les Arts Florissants, the Clemencic Consort of Vienna, and La Chapelle Royale. His interest in conducting flourished during studies with the highly respected French conductor Charles Bruck at the Pierre Monteux School in Hancock, ME. After taking first prize at the first International Early Music Competition in Bruges (1984), Minkowski founded his own early instrument ensemble, Les Musiciens du Louvre, with which he has made the bulk of his recordings.
His biggest successes have come in the realm of dramatic music, where his revivals of works by Gluck, Lully, Purcell, and Handel have drawn attention to his text-oriented dramatic sense. This same approach has borne similar fruit in the oratorios and choral works of Handel, which he has made a staple of his repertory. Minkowski and Les Musiciens du Louvre signed an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon's Archiv Produktion label in 1994, and in 1997 they joined forces with the Orchestre de Chambre de Grenoble and have resided mostly in that city, where they are associated with the Maison de la Culture de Grenoble. Minkowski has also conducted the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Mozarteum Salzburg, and the Staatskapelle Dresden, among other world-class orchestras.
Minkowski's recorded repertoire in the 21st century, befitting his multiple talents, has been spread across a number of music labels, including Naïve, Decca, Erato, Brilliant, and others. He has been able to marshal the resources to perform and record Baroque operas such as Rameau's Anacréon (2009), and he has continued to unearth little-known works such as Grétry's La Caravane du Caire. Increasingly, however, his efforts have been focused on repertory of the late 18th and 19th centuries. In 2013 he conducted a recording of Wagner's Der fliegende Holländer, paired with a little-known setting of a condensed version of the Wagner libretto by Pierre-Louis Dietsch. In 2017, Minkowski and Les Musiciens du Louvre issued a critically acclaimed recording of Bach's St. John Passion, BWV 245. ~ Rovi Staff, James Manheim