Maestro, no longer dying, is 85 today

Maestro, no longer dying, is 85 today


norman lebrecht

March 16, 2019

In the early 1990s, Roger Norrington was told he was dying of a rare and rapid cancer.

Applying genius-level intelligence and a range of naturopathic and untested treatments, he beat it.

When I conducted a Lebrecht Interview with him for the BBC in 2010, his references to alternative medicine were ruthlessly removed.

In this later conversation, we discuss more elevated matters. (Not everyone was impressed.)

Happy birthday, Sir Roger, and multi anni




  • Helen dutton says:

    Happy Birthday. Lovely man.

  • Una says:

    Wonderful memories of working with him at the real Kent Opera and also with Jonathan Hinden, Norman Platt,
    Nicholas Hytner and Jonathan Miller. We all made furst-rate music, not politics. Happy birthday, Rog – as we used to call him!

    • Viola da Bracchio says:

      Defunding Kent Opera was one of the worst decisions the Arts Council ever made. When we think of the performances we never had due to this philistine stupidity, and the slashes ir made at MD Norrington’s career, it becomes very sad.

      We may often think of him as an ‘HIP maestro’ – but his abilities went far deeper than that… as the KO/Norrington/Hytner King Priam proved. Those of us who were there witnessed what ought to have been the future of high-end regional touring provision in the UK, in all its glory.

  • Brian says:

    Finally, some good news. Happy birthday, Sir Roger!

  • Caravaggio says:

    I am no fan of historically informed performance nowadays but Norrington’s Beethoven symphonies were a revelation for me at the time. In fact, I think I will play them again this weekend after a long hiatus.

  • Berlioz says:

    Happy birthday to a truly fantastic conductor!!

  • Rita says:

    “…genius-level intelligence and a range of naturopathic and untested treatments,”…oxymoron

  • dd says:

    ahh, the MM twins: mainstream media & medical mafia
    are our formidable foes, indeed:
    They Actually ADMITTED
    No Money in Curing People

    Truthstream Media
    Published on Feb 11, 2019

    Delete The Elite-
    “A patient cured is a customer lost.”
    — Big Pharma


    Goldman Sachs asks the question – in public:

    “Is curing a sustainable business model?”

    They’re not even hiding it any more.

    There have always been con artists in medicine.

    That would be doctors
    who deliberately don’t heal people
    that they have have an income for life
    from a dependent patients.

    Now the whole system is structured that way.

    The drug companies and medical advice makers
    their owners call the tune
    most of the doctors dance to it.

    As an important step in becoming a doctor, medical students must take the Hippocratic Oath.
    And one of the promises within
    that oath is
    “first, do no harm” (or “primum non nocere”)

    [And woe betide those who do uphold that medical vow : ]

    Unintended Holistic Doctor Death Series: Over 90 Dead
    by Erin Elizabeth | Mar 12, 2016

    …Besides the fact that the majority were holistic,
    they shared
    another common theme—they all cared deeply and were passionate about health…
    These healers—some of whom were best-selling authors,
    regulars in the media
    and put celebrities into remission from cancer and illnesses…
    See below for the official detailed timeline…

    • Petros Linardos says:

      How can you generalize? There are good and bad doctors, there are good and bad healers.

      There is no shortage of celebrities who may have lost their lives because of resorting to alternative medicine, only to go back to conventional when it was too late. Steve Jobs instantly comes to mind.

      The dramatic increase in life expectancy in developed countries is not unrelated to advances in medicine. In the US, life expectancy is correlated to having health insurance and access to modern conventional medicine.

      • Saxon Broken says:

        Most of the rise in life-expectancy is due to improved diet, the fact work is much less physical, modern safety standards, and the cut in smoking and drinking. These factors are also correlated with “having health insurance”.

        The key gains for modern medicine is probably around childbirth and infancy (which especially includes vaccination).

        Nevertheless the belief that there is a massive conspiracy by the medical profession to kill people, especially babies (hence their hostility to vaccines) is just weird. Perhaps we should ask them if Prince Philip is the fiend leading the plot?

    • Amos says:

      Sorry but the notion that there are not more efficacious treatments for a wider variety of cancers because there is “no money in it” or because scientists will lose research grant money once a successful treatment is discovered is pure insanity. First, cancer isn’t a monolithic disease. Second, immunotherapies to treat cancers are being undertaken by countless large pharmas to small biotechs because there is a need and the MOAs are better understood. Third, anyone suggesting that advances are being slow-walked to keep grant money flowing has never spent 5 minutes in a quality research facility. Competition to be the first, in print and/or the clinic, is intense for a variety of reasons. Any scientist/physician who makes a seminal contribution to cancer treatment will never have to worry about grant writing again. Think about Jonas Salk’s contribution to curing polio; Salk was rewarded with his own research institute and was free to investigate anything he was interested in for the rest of his life.

    • Christopher Storey says:

      I have rarely read such drivel as that posted by dd. Absolute tosh from start to finish. I shall be eternally grateful to the surgeon , the radiotherapist , and the drug companies who cured my wife’s cancer now nearly 29 years ago

  • steven holloway says:

    Not sure why you provided the link. It merely points out that you and Sir Roger look alike, and you do in those photos. If it’s a roundabout way of alluding to views on Norrington’s vibrato-less Elgar, well, an awful lot of us weren’t impressed by that one of his notions. I wrote a comment on that other blog explaining why I consider the argument for it baseless and contra Elgar himself, so obviously I too was not impressed. But still, I’m not sure of the point of the link.

  • Jamesay says:

    Happy Birthday Sir Roger!

  • Michael says:

    A happy birthday to the Maestro! I appreciate Norrington’s sense of humor and I do hear things in a different way when he is conducting. There is a clarity there that I love. Many people trash his Brahms, for instance, but when you keep an open mind and actually listen closely it is no less moving. Same thing for Vaughan Williams. His Elgar on the other hand I found revolting! All-in-all I find him a joy.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      I agree, Roger Norrington has a wonderful sense of humour….vibrato-less Elgar, and said with such a straight face.

  • TAYLOR DAVID says:


  • Una says:

    Lovely interview with Brian Duffie that I personally typed up last month. Worth a read even though it’s in the 80s in Chicago.

    • Cyril says:

      Are you the official typist for Bruce Duffie? Thank you for doing that. Those old interviews are treasures. I found myself reading the one with Margaret Price a couple weeks ago.

  • Rgiarola says:

    I would like to include Berlioz Sinfonie Fantastique as a very interesting 1988 recording of him and London Classical Players, for EMI. technically the use at that time of B&W mics and loudspeakers, that slow paces…if my colleagues of SD listen now again it, we will all see how its sound so smoothly good now, although it got so many thumbs down at that time.

    Happy Bday Maestro!

  • Spenser says:

    I remember hearing a Bruckner symphony on CD (I can’t recall which one; it was many years ago) which was played with no vibrato.
    I thought it was quite nice.
    Happy birthday maestro, and many years of good health!

  • Jonathan Grieves-Smith says:

    A breath, a gale, of fresh air, joy, wit, intelligence, irreverence, respect & collaboration. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

  • Pho says:

    Your (foggy) reference to the beneficial role of natural medicine in treating cancer is completely inapproptiate. There is no place for that in modern therapy. Numerous patient stories attest to that including the well-written and heartbreaking one by Steven isserlis about his wife. Lorraine Hunts refusal of standard therapy in favor of homeopathic is just one other out of many. Mr. Lebrecht, I love your gossipy blog about Music, but please restrict your writings to that subject.

  • Garry Humphreys says:

    You were still a tenor when you conducted Beethoven’s Die glorreiche Augenblick at Oxford, fifty years ago, when several London singers were roped in to swell the chorus. Do you remember? I do, I was one of the singers, and we rather enjoyed the experience, and thought then that you might do quite well as a conductor. (And, re Kent Opera, Norman Platt was my first singing teacher, at a time when KO was rather more than a twinkle in his eye.) Happy birthday!

  • sdg says:

    I sat above the violins for a performance of Bruckner’s 7th Symphony by the Dresden Staatskapelle and Bernard Haitink in Lucerne some years ago, and I noticed to my astonishment that they used virtually no vibrato. I ascribed that to the extraordinary string sound I had always found so hairraising from that orchestra.

  • Jack says:

    Heard him lead a stunning and memorable performance of the Schubert 9th Symphony in Carnegie Hall with the Orchestra of St. Lukes. I’ll never forget it.

  • Harrumph says:

    Lord Théoden is looking well.

  • Don Pasquale says:

    Wonderful man and musician. If you fancy hearing him conduct Debussy,which apparently he’s never conducted before, head along to the RSNO 2019-20 season.