Starting from the ‘70s, Jordi Savall made a name as one of the most important figures of the world of European early music scene, being credited with the resuscitation of the viola da gamba. Viol player, composer and conductor, Savall started learning cello, choosing this instrument because he thought it best resembled the children’s voice. After eight or nine years, at the end of his studies, he discovered viola da gamba, an instrument with a sound he found mysterious, enigmatic and very fragile, with a rare sound quality.
Born in 1942 in Catalonia, Savall completed his training at the Barcelona Conservatory of Music and then studied the gamba and early music research and practice with Wieland Kuijken in Brussels and August Wenziger at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel. In 1970 he obtained his diploma as soloist and teacher and four years later he he succeeded to Wenziger’s position. The same year he founded, together with his wife, the soprano and harpist Montserrat Figueras, the ensemble Hespèrion XX, consecrated to old music from 16th and 17th centuries. In 2009 the ensemble recorded “Istanbul. Dimitrie Cantemir – Le livre de la science de la musique”, dedicated to the Romanian scholar and his study on the Ottoman music from that time. Savall has always been interested in history, believing that the “worst that a human being can do is to lose his memory. When we lose our memory, we lose our humanity. We can evolve more as humans if we have more capacity to understand more of our past. There’s no future without memory.”
When he returned in Barcelona in 1987 he founded La Capella Reial de Catalunya, a vocal ensemble devoted to music from before the 18th century and two years later he created Le Concert des Nations, an orchestra generally dedicated to music from the baroque period. He became internationally known famous through his playing on the soundtrack of Alain Corneau’s film Tous les Matins du Monde, which also brought him a César for best soundtrack. The French newspaper Le Monde wrote that “the Savall sound has a rich flavor that stays in the ear exactly as a good wine in the gustative memory”, an appraisal that Savall accepted in an interview with Marius Constantinescu for Observatorul Cultural, saying that “the secret lies in having an interior model that leads to this sound, which is not only a sound but an expression, a spiritual dimension, a way of delivering the most profound things from deep down inside.” He added that “the life of a musician means a constant search for harmonies and sharing them. When we break open the musical act, we feel the privilege of passing it over to those we love. Sharing is in the human nature and offers an extraordinary joy.”
Savall recorded over 160 CDs so far, he has multiple Grammy nominations and in 2008 he was named an “Artist for Peace” by UNESCO. Extremely active, he gives over 140 concerts yearly and adds six new albums to his discography every year. He is very proud of his family collaborations: he had recorded with his wife and their two children, Arianna Savall (soprano and harpist) and Ferran Savall (lute, theorbo and Baroque guitar). “Music is the first thing the human being understands and the last thing we lose. When people have forgotten everything, they are
still able to listen to music and feel the beauty. With our children, music was their first language”, Savall said in an interview with Cleveland Classical.
In Romania he gave two concerts in 2007 at The George Enescu Festival. This year he comes back with Hespèrion XXI (known since 2000 as Hespèrion XXI) and La Capella Reial de Catalunya.
„Music is the first thing the human being understands and the last thing we lose.” Jordi Savall