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Christie, William (Lincoln)

music conducted les harpsichord

Christie, William (Lincoln), outstanding American-born French conductor and harpsichordist; b. Buffalo, Dec. 19, 1944. He began his musical training with his mother. After studying harpsichord with Igor Kipnis at the Berkshire Music Center in Tanglewood, he took courses in music and art history at Harvard Univ. (B.A., 1966), and in harpsichord with Ralph Kirkpatrick, organ with Charles Krigbaum, and musicology with Claude Palisca and Nicholas Temperley at Yale Univ. (M.Mus., 1970). In 1971 he proceeded to Europe to complete his harpsichord studies with Kenneth Gilbert and David Fuller. In 1979 he founded Les Arts Florissants, a vocal and instrumental ensemble he developed into one of the foremost performing groups of French, Italian, and English music of the 17 th and 18 th centuries. From 1982 to 1995 he was a prof, of early music at the Paris Cons., the first American ever to serve on its faculty. In 1983 he conducted Monteverdi’s In ballo delle ingrate at the Opéra du Rhin in Strasbourg, and returned there in 1985 with Rameau’s Anacréon and Charpentier’s Actéon . After conducting Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aride at the Opéra-Comique in Paris in 1985, he returned there in 1987 to great critical acclaim with Lully’s Atys . In 1989 he conducted the latter work at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and also conducted Purcell’s The Fairy Queen at the Aix-en-Provence Festival. His subsequent engagements in Aix-en-Provence included Rameau’s Les Indes galantes in 1990 and Castor et Pollux in 1991, and Mozart’s Die Zauberflôte in 1994. In 1990 he led performances of Actéon and Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas in London. After conducting the latter composer’s King Arthur at London’s Covent Garden in 1995, he was engaged as a conductor at the Glyndebourne Festival in 1996 for Handel’s Rodelinda . He led Les Arts Florissants on tours to many leading music centers of the world, and also appeared as a guest conductor in Europe and abroad. In 1993 he was awarded the Légion d’honneur of France. In addition to his performances of the celebrated masters of the Baroque era, Christie has also championed the works of such lesser-known composers as Bouzignac, Lambert, Montéclair, Moulinié, and Rossi.

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