Co-musical Director, Founder
William Christie, harpsichordist, conductor, musicologist, and teacher, is the inspiration behind one of the most exciting musical adventures of the last 40 years. A pioneer in the rediscovery of Baroque music, he has introduced the repertoire of 17th- and 18th-century France to a very wide audience across the globe. Born in Buffalo, and educated at Harvard and Yale, William Christie has lived in France since 1971. The turning point in his career came in 1979, when he founded Les Arts Florissants.
As director of this vocal and instrumental ensemble, William Christie soon made his mark as both a musician and man of the theatre, in the concert hall and the opera house. Major public recognition came in 1987 with the production of Lully’s Atys at the Opéra Comique in Paris.
From Charpentier to Rameau, through Couperin, Mondonville, William Christie is the uncontested master of tragédie-lyrique as well as opéra-ballet, and is just as comfortable with the French motet as with music of the court. But his affection for French music does not preclude him from exploring other European repertoires as Monteverdi, Rossi, Scarlatti, Landi, Purcell, Handel, Mozart, Haydn or Bach.
Notable among his most recent operatic work are Handel’s Jephtha at the Opéra de Paris and Ariodante at the Wiener Staatsoper, The Beggar’s Opera on European tour and Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea at the Salzburg Festival.
As a guest conductor, William Christie often appears alongside the Berliner Philharmoniker or the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment at opera festivals such as Glyndebourne or opera houses such as the Metropolitan Opera of New York, the Zurich Opernhaus, or the Opéra National de Lyon.
His extensive discography includes more than 100 recordings. The most recent ones – “Si vous vouliez un jour”; Bach’s B Minor Mass; Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea (CD/DVD) – were issued by harmonia mundi in the “Les Arts Florissants” collection.
Wishing to develop further his work as a teacher, in 2002 William Christie created Le Jardin des Voix, Les Arts Florissant’s biennial baroque Academy for young singers, now established at Thiré in Vendée. Since 2007 he has been artist in residence at the Juilliard School in New York, where he gives master classes twice a year. In 2021, he launches with Les Arts Florissants the first “Arts Flo Masterclasses” for young professional musicians at the Quartier des Artistes in Thiré (Vendée, Pays de la Loire – France).
In 2012, he created the festival Dans les Jardins de William Christie in his own gardens, located in the French village of Thiré in the Vendée, where he welcomes every summer young musicians from the Juilliard School and singers of the Jardin des Voix along with the musicians and singers of Les Arts Florissants.
William Christie has bequeathed his real-estate assets to the Foundation Les Arts Florissants–William Christie created in 2018.
In November 2008, William Christie was elected to France’s Académie des Beaux-Arts, and gave his official inaugural speech under the dome of the Institut de France in January 2010.