The oustanding English conductor, John Eliot Gardiner, first took up the baton at the age of fifteen. As an undergraduate student at Cambridge University, he toured the Middle East conducting the Oxford and Cambridge Singers before founding the Monteverdi Choir in 1964. After graduating, he studied with Thurston Dart in London and with Nadia Boulanger in Paris.
John Eliot Gardiner made his London opera debut with Die Zauberflöte in 1969 at the English National Opera, and he first appeared at Covent Garden in 1973 conducting Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride. His American debut came in 1979 when he led the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Upon the occasion of their 25th anniversary in 1989, Gardiner toured the world with the Monteverdi Choir giving performances of Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610 (recorded for release on film, video and disc by Archiv Produktion).
In 1968, John Eliot Gardiner formed the Monteverdi Orchestra. Almost ten years later, the English Baroque Soloists - formed from members of the Monteverdi Orchestra made their debut at the 1977 Innsbruck Festival of Early Music performing Georg Frideric Handel's Acis and Galatea on period instruments. In 1990, he formed a new period instrument orchestra to perform Classical and Romantic music, the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique.
John Eliot Gardiner has been entrusted with numerous important positions by leading orchestras, opera houses and festivals. He was Principal Conductor from 1980 to 1983 of the CBC Vancouver Orchestra. In a highly successful period as Music Director of the Opéra de Lyons (1983-1988), he established an entirely new orchestra, now regarded as one of the finest in France. From 1981 until 1990 he was Artistic Director of the Göttingen Handel Festival, and, from 1991 until 1994, Principal Conductor of the Norddeutschen Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester in Hamburg. As a guest conductor, he has appeared with major orchestras including the Philharmonia Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Wiener Philharmoniker. In 1990, he led the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists in their debut at the Salzburg Festival, where he has been a regular guest since then. John Eliot Gardiner has undertaken numerous tours with the Monteverdi Choir and the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique.
This acclaimed conductor's accolades include "Artist of the Year 1994" (Gramophone Award), "Conductor of the Year" (Klassik Echo Awards 1995) and "Best Conductor" (Cannes Classical Award 1995). In 1994 John Eliot Gardiner was named "Classical Artist of the Year" (German Record Critics Award) and in 1995 he was the first conductor to receive the Dietrich Buxtehude Prize. John Eliot Gardiner holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Lyons (1987) and was named "Officier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres" (1988) and "Commander of the British Empire" (1990). In 1992 he was made an honorary member of King's College, London and the Royal Academy of Music.
John Eliot Gardiner received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II at the June Birthday Honours in 1998.