Sir Neville Marriner, a violinist who went on to found the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields chamber orchestra, died early Sunday, the chamber orchestra announced. He was 92. Marriner began his career in a string quartet before landing in the London Symphony Orchestra. It was while he was playing with the London Symphony that he decided to form a small ensemble with London's best musicians, and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields started rehearsing in his living room in 1958; it was named after the church where the group first performed in 1959.
The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields became one of the world's leading chamber orchestras, recording a bestselling rendition of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons in 1968 and, most famously, the soundtrack to the 1984 film Amadeus, which won a Grammy and became one of the highest-selling classical recordings of all time. Marriner was the musical supervisor on the film as well as conductor on the soundtrack. Marriner was born in Lincoln, England, in 1924 and studied violin, piano, and composition at London's Royal College of Music and the Paris Conservatoire. "You know, the actual mechanics of conducting are not very difficult," he said in 1978. "It's getting the confidence. It's like taking a driving test."
Marriner was knighted in 1985 and made a member of the Order of Companions of Honour for his service to music in 2015. Along with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Marriner was founding musical director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra from 1969 to 1978 and music director of the Minnesota Orchestra from 1979 to 1986. He was the music director of The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields from 1958 until 2011, when violinist Joshua Bell tool over, and he was president for life. "He will be greatly missed by all who knew and worked with him and the academy will ensure it continues to be an excellent and fitting testament to Sir Neville," said Paul Aylieff, chairman of the chamber orchestra.