For more than forty years, Jordi Savall, one of the most versatile musical personalities of his generation, has rescued musical gems from the obscurity of neglect and oblivion and given them back for all to enjoy. A tireless researcher into early music, he interprets and performs the repertory both as a violist and a conductor. His activities as a concert performer, teacher, researcher and creator of new musical and cultural projects have made him a leading figure in the reappraisal of historical music. Together with Montserrat Figueras, he founded the ensembles Hespèrion XXI (1974), La Capella Reial de Catalunya (1987) and Le Concert des Nations (1989), with whom he explores and creates a world of emotion and beauty shared with millions of early music enthusiasts around the world. The Guardian (2011) described him in the following terms: “what really marks him out are his wanderings beyond the temple of high culture. An omnivorous troubadour, he roves from Manchester libraries to Colombian villages to salvage musical traditions – with recordings that move from Berber beats to the raptures of a raga, from the thrilling stillness of an Armenian lament to the sprightliness of an Elizabethan galliard.”
Through his essential contribution to Alain Corneau’s film Tous les Matins du Monde, which won a César for the best soundtrack, his busy concert schedule (140 concerts per year), his recordings (6 albums per year) and his own record label, ALIA VOX, which he founded with Montserrat Figueras in 1998, Jordi Savall has proved not only that early music does not have to be elitist, but that it can appeal to increasingly diverse and numerous audiences of all ages. As the critic Allan Kozinn wrote in The New York Times (2005), his vast concert and recording career can be described as “not simply a matter of revival, but of imaginative reanimation.”
After finishing his cello studies at the Barcelona Conservatoire in 1964, in 1965 he embarked on teaching himself the viola da gamba and performing early music with the group Ars Musicae. In 1968 he moved to Switzerland to further his music studies at the Schola Cantorum Basilensis, where he taught and gave master classes until 1993. He is currently visiting professor at the Juilliard School in New York. He has recorded and released over 200 albums covering the Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and Classical music repertories, with a special focus on the Hispanic and Mediterranean musical heritage, winning many awards and distinctions, including the Midem Classical Award, the International Classical Music Award and the Grammy.
Jordi Savall has described music as “one of the most universal means of expression and communication,” adding that “the measure of its importance and significance cannot be gauged according to the criteria of evolution in musical language, but rather according to its degree of expressive intensity, inner richness and humanity.” His concert programmes have made music an instrument of mediation to achieve understanding and peace between different and sometimes warring peoples and cultures. Accordingly, guest artists appearing with his ensembles include Arab, Israeli, Turkish, Greek, Armenian, Afghan, Mexican and North American musicians. In 2008 Jordi Savall was appointed European Union Ambassador for intercultural dialogue and, together with Montserrat Figueras, was named “Artist for Peace” under the UNESCO “Good Will Ambassadors” programme.
His artistic career has been regarded as one of the driving forces behind the revival of early music from Europe, the New World and the Mediterranean, as well as a major landmark in the study, performance, conducting and rapprochement of diverse musical traditions in a far-reaching intercultural dialogue that transcends all borders. His prolific musical career has brought him the highest national and international distinctions, including honorary doctorates from the Universities of Evora (Portugal), Barcelona (Catalunya), Louvain (Belgium) and Basel (Switzerland), the order of Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur (France), the 2010 Praetorius Music Prize awarded by the Ministry of Culture and Science of Lower Saxony, the Gold Medal of the Generalitat de Catalunya, and the prestigious Léonie Sonning Prize, which is considered the Nobel prize of the music world. “Jordi Savall testifies to a common cultural inheritance of infinite variety. He is a man for our time” (The Guardian, 2011).