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The original ACADEMY of ANCIENT MUSIC was established in 1726 for the purpose of studying and performing 'old' music - defined initially as anything composed at least a century earlier, but soon to include more contemporary composers, most notably Handel.
The modern revival of The Academy was founded by Christopher Hogwood in 1973 to give audiences an experience of music as it might have sounded at the time it was written. The ensemble brings together specialists in every branch of baroque and classical performance style, playing instruments of the appropriate period in appropriate numbers. For choral works it is joined either by The Academy of Ancient Music Chorus or a cathedral or collegiate choir with boys' voices. Extending its policy of working with directors other than Hogwood, in 1996 it appointed Paul Goodwin as Associate Conductor and Andrew Manze as Associate Director.
The Academy of Ancient Music is especially well known for its pioneering recordings under Christopher Hogwood for Decca. Having been the first orchestra to record all of Mozart's symphonies on period instruments, The AAM has since recorded the complete piano concertos and symphonies of Beethoven, and is part way through recording the complete Haydn symphonies and the complete Mozart piano concertos with fortepianist Robert Levin. Opera releases on CD include Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, Handel's Orlando and Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito with Cecilia Bartoli, which was awarded the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik and a Grammy nomination. The award-winning combination of Hogwood/Bartoli/AAM continued with Haydn's Orfeo and Handel's Rinaldo (released in autumn 2000). The AAM Chamber Ensemble has recorded (also for Decca) classical repertoire including clarinet quintets by Mozart and Weber, Beethoven's Septet, Schubert's Octet and Trout Quintet, and the quintets for fortepiano and winds by Mozart and Beethoven.
Under the direction of Paul Goodwin and Andrew Manze, The AAM also records for Harmonia Mundi USA. The first recording with Andrew Manze, Bach's solo and double violin concertos, was released in 1997 to wide critical acclaim, and was shortly followed by Vivaldi's Concert for the Prince of Poland and the complete Concerti Grossi Op. 6 of Handel (nominated for a Grammy). The most recent Manze/AAM recording, the complete Concerti Grossi of Geminiani (after Corelli Op. 5), was released in July 2000. Under Paul Goodwin, The AAM has recorded a selection of Christmas music by Schütz and his contemporaries, Mozart's rare Singspiel Zaïde, and The AAM's first commission, John Tavener's Eternity's Sunrise, which met with an enthusiastic critical response on its release in 1999. A second Tavener recording, Total Eclipse, is to be released in 2001.
Several recording projects have also resulted in videos or television programs, which include Handel's Messiah, Haydn's Creation, a South Bank Show filmed at Esterháza about Haydn's symphonies and 'The Sorceress', which features Dame Kiri Te Kanawa singing music from various Handel operas. In 1997 the AAM's performances in Salzburg of Mozart piano concertos played by Robert Levin on Mozart's own fortepiano were filmed for release on video.
The orchestra’s Fall, 2000 North American tour, led by Andrew Manze, includes concerts in New York, Boston, Seattle, Vancouver, Berkeley, Los Angeles, Costa Mesa, St. Louis, Santa Fe, Princeton, Athens, GA, Columbia, MO, College Park, MD, Charlottesville, VA, Tucson, AZ, Boulder, CO, and Laramie, WY. Other highlights in 2000/01 include the start of a new London season at St John's, Smith Square, a major tour to Japan (under Christopher Hogwood), a European tour of Haydn's Orfeo with Cecilia Bartoli (again under Christopher Hogwood), and an Arts Council funded tour of the UK under Paul Goodwin of a program featuring The AAM's latest commission, David Bedford's Like a Strand of Scarlet. The following season 2001/02 includes major tours to South America (under Andrew Manze and Christopher Hogwood) and the USA (under Christopher Hogwood with fortepianist Robert Levin).