Jordi Savall

Jordi Savall
Savall in 2014, when he received the Gold Medal of the Generalitat de Catalunya
Savall in 2014, when he received the Gold Medal of the Generalitat de Catalunya
Background information
Birth nameJordi Savall i Bernadet
Born (1941-08-01) 1 August 1941 (age 82)
Igualada, Barcelona, Spain
GenresClassical, western early music
Occupation(s)Conductor, gambist, composer
Instrument(s)Viola da gamba, viola da braccio
LabelsEMI Classics, Astrée, Alia Vox
Spouse(s)Montserrat Figueras (1968–2011)
Maria Bartels (2017–present)

Jordi Savall i Bernadet (Catalan: [ˈʒɔɾði səˈβaʎ i βəɾnəˈðɛt]; born 1 August 1941) is a Spanish conductor, composer and viol player. He has been one of the major figures in the field of Western early music since the 1970s, largely responsible for popularizing the viol family of instruments (notably the viola da gamba) in contemporary performance and recording. As a historian of early music his repertoire features everything from medieval, Renaissance and Baroque through to the Classical and Romantic periods. He has incorporated non-western musical traditions in his work; including African vernacular music for a documentary on slavery.

Musical education

His musical training started at age six in the school choir of his native Igualada (1947–55). After graduating from the Barcelona's Conservatory of Music (where he studied from 1959 to 1965) he specialized in early music, collaborating with Ars Musicae de Barcelona under Enric Gispert, studying with August Wenzinger at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel, Switzerland (1968–70) and eventually succeeding Wenzinger in 1974 as professor of viola da gamba at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis.


Savall rehearsing for the creation of Les routes de l'esclavage for Festival Agapé at Geneva Cathedral, June 2015

In 1974 he formed the ensemble Hespèrion XX (known since 2000 as Hespèrion XXI), together with his wife soprano Montserrat Figueras, Lorenzo Alpert and Hopkinson Smith. Hespèrion XX favored a style of interpretation characterized simultaneously by great musical vitality and maximum historical accuracy.

In 1987 he returned to Barcelona to found La Capella Reial de Catalunya, a vocal ensemble devoted to pre-eighteenth-century music. In 1989 he founded Le Concert des Nations, an orchestra generally emphasizing Baroque period, but sometimes also Classical and even Romantic music such as, for example, Sinfonía [por] Grande Orquesta by Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga) (1806–1826).

More recently Savall has performed with family members. The family ensemble has included his wife Montserrat Figueras (who died in 2011) and their two children, Arianna and Ferran. Arianna plays the harp and sings, like her mother; Ferran plays the theorbo (bass lute) and sings, not only with his family, but also in Barcelona jazz clubs.

In several of his recordings and concerts, Savall and his ensembles have incorporated non-western musical traditions, including African vernacular music played by musicians of the ensemble 3MA (Driss el Maloumi, Ballake Sissoko, Rajery) in Les Routes de l’Esclavage or The Routes of Slavery (2017). In their performances and albums titled Orient-Occident, Savall and musicians from the Middle East have presented traditional Arabic, Christian and Sephardic music, originating from medieval Al-Andalus, Syria, Morocco and Turkey.

Additionally, Savall has created music festivals, such as the Festival musique et histoire in the Fontfroide Abbey in southern France and the Jordi Savall Festival, set in historic monasteries of Catalonia.

Personal life

Savall was married to Montserrat Figueras from 1968 to her death in 2011. They had a daughter, Arianna Savall, and a son, Ferran Savall. In 2017, Jordi Savall married the Spanish philosopher Maria Bartels.


Savall's discography includes more than 200 recordings. Originally recording with EMI Classics, and then from 1975 on Michel Bernstein's Astrée label, since 1998 he has recorded on his own label, Alia Vox.

Honours and awards

Discography with Alia Vox

Full discography as published on Alia Vox website:


Savall adapted and performed music for the 1991 Alain Corneau film Tous les matins du monde about composers Sainte-Colombe and Marin Marais. His work on this film earned him a César award from the French film industry in 1992. The soundtrack has sold more than a million copies worldwide.

He has composed music for the following films:

In popular culture

Savall and his wife Montserrat Figueras are characters in a 2009 novel Sır (Secret), by Turkish writer Enis Batur. The plot includes a surprise birthday party for Savall.[citation needed]

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