Robert King (conductor)

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Robert King (born 27 June 1960 in Wombourne) is an English conductor, harpsichordist, editor and author. His career has concentrated on period performance of classical music, in particular from the baroque and early modern periods.


As a youth, he was a member of the Choir of St John's College, Cambridge. He read music at the University of Cambridge, and in 1980, while still a student, founded the period instrument orchestra The King's Consort.[1][2][3] As conductor and artistic director of The King's Consort, King has made more than 100 recordings, mostly for Hyperion Records [4] and more recently for the Vivat label.[5]

He has worked as a conductor with orchestras in Europe and North America, including the Seattle, Houston, New World, Oregon, Detroit, Atlanta, Minnesota, WDR and NDR Symphony Orchestras, the Bergen Philharmonic, the Munich Radio Orchestra, Zurich Chamber Orchestra, Danish National Radio Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo, the Orchestra della RAI Torino, Orchestra Sinfonica Giuseppe Verdi di Milano, the Orquesta Sinfónica de Tenerife, Orquesta Ciudad de Barcelona, Real Filharmonia de Galicia, Real Orquesta Sinfónica de Sevilla and the Orquesta e Coro Ciudad de Madrid.[6] King is also a noted choral conductor who has worked with the Nederlands Kamerkoor, Orfeo Catala, Orfeón Donostiarra, Swiss Radio Choir and the BBC Singers. Operatic work has included Handel Ottone in Japan and the UK, Handel Ezio in Paris, Purcell The Indian Queen in the UK and Germany, Purcell The Fairy Queen in Spain and Britain and Gluck Armide for Buxton Festival. He has written and presented for the BBC, been artistic director of music festivals in Sweden, Germany, and the UK, and contributed to the scores of a number of Hollywood films including Pirates of the Caribbean, Shrek 2, Flushed Away, and The Da Vinci Code.[7]

Besides especial acclaim for his work in the field of baroque music, King also is renowned for conducting a wide spread of classical and early romantic works, symphonic and choral, with a particular focus on the music of Mozart, Haydn and Mendelssohn, and a continuing specialisation in early twentieth century English composers, notably the works of Vaughan Williams, Stanford and Parry.[8]

A published author and editor of many scores, principally of baroque music, King wrote a monograph on Purcell published in 1994, to coincide with the 300th anniversary of the composer’s death in 1695.


In 2007, King was convicted of indecent assault, dating from his time as a young schoolmaster before 1994.[9][10] While King denied the offences, he was jailed for a sentence of three years and nine months and was placed on the sex offenders register.[11] Unusually, the judge declined to prohibit King from working with children in future citing the lack of evidence of any offence having been committed in the last decade and the fact that he had entered a new phase of his life, being married with children.[12] In 2013, commenting on an article in a national tabloid newspaper which criticised him for taking part in a charity fundraising concert for a historic church, King stated that he had "accepted my sentence, and have paid my debt to society".[13]

From 2009

King made a successful return to the podium in 2009. In 2010 and 2011, two substantial volumes of English church music edited by King were published by Oxford University Press [14] joining nearly 100 other works he has edited from the Baroque and Classical eras. In 2009 he was appointed artistic director of the musical charity Vivat Music Foundation[15]

Since 2013 he has recorded for the Vivat label, on which his debut recording, I Was Glad, went straight to number 1 in the classical recordings charts [16][17] and was a finalist in the 2013 Gramophone Awards.[18] In 2015-16, alongside UK performances at Wigmore Hall, the King's Consort perform under King's direction at major European festivals and venues including the Palace of Versailles, Theater an der Wien, Enescu Festival, Rheingau Festival, Festival La Chaise-Dieu, Potsdam Musikfestspiele, Palau de la Musica, Valencia, as well as on tour in France, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Romania and Spain.[19]

Robert King, his wife and two children live in rural England and farm a flock of rare-breeds sheep.[20]

Published works

  • Henry Purcell - "A Greater Musical Genius England Never had". London: Thames & Hudson, 1995. ISBN 0-500-01625-9
  • English Church Music. Volume 1: Anthems and Motets. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-19-336841-5
  • English Church Music. Volume 2: Canticles and Responses. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. ISBN 978-0-19-336844-6



  1. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music, Oxford University Press, 1996/
  3. Hyperion Records
  4. Hyperion Records
  6. Lucerne Festival,
  7. IMDb
  9. BBC News website,
  10. "The Guardian"
  11. Alle yne, Richard. "Conductor jailed for sexually abusing choir boys to star at in concert hosted by Prince Charles' charity". Daily Mail. Retrieved 21 February 2015. line feed character in |last1= at position 5 (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Westphal, Matthew. "Conductor Robert King Convicted of Abusing Teenage Boys". Playbill Arts. Retrieved 21 February 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Charity Commission website,

External links