The Academy of St Martin in the Fields
'Rumour has it,' remarked The Times in 1975, 'that the Academy of St Martin in the Fields is nowadays one of the three most famous things about England - the others, in no particular order, are Laura Ashley and Earl Grey tea.' In their first 21 years, the Academy made 250 records and sold more than 2,000,000 copies of them, winning in the process three Gold Discs and an array of international prizes, becoming internationally known through these recordings and through appearances all over the world.
This book tells the story of the Academy's first 25 years: its development from a small conductorless string group in the vanguard of the baroque revival of the 1950s into a protean ensemble performing variously as chamber ensemble, small string orchestra and Mannheim-size orchestra conducted by Neville Marriner in recordings of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven symphonies - a development which ran parallel with the growth of the recording industry.
Much is told in the words of the players themselves, the Academy's many friends, and the soloists and composers with whom they worked (among them Dame Janet Baker, Sir Colin Davis, Lynn Harrell, Christopher Hogwood, Robert Tear and Sir William Walton); and Alfred Brendel has written an introduction. Illustrated with photographs, cartoons and sketches, the book presents a 'behind-the-scenes' picture of the world's best-known chamber orchestra at work, in the recording studio, in front of the television camera, on tour, in concert - and off duty.