The French conductor Jean-Claude Malgoire has died at the age of 77, following a complication post-surgery. He is widely regarded as one of the pioneers of the rediscovery of early music in France, preceding the likes of William Christie and Philippe Herreweghe.

Jean-Claude MalgoireJean-Claude Malgoire

Born in Avignon on November 25, 1940, Malgoire began his career in music as an oboist. He enrolled at the Paris Conservatoire in 1957, where he won first prizes for oboe and chamber music. A glittering career as an instrumentalist seemed to be in store for Malgoire, confirmed by his first prize win in the Geneva International Music Competition at the age of 20.

It was not long after Malgoire graduated from the Conservatoire that he found himself playing in professional orchestras, first in 1972 with the Ensemble Européen de Musique Contemporaine, later as cor anglais soloist in the Orchestre de Paris.

It was during this time that Malgoire become interested in conducting and musicology. In 1966 he founded period-instrument ensemble La Grande Écurie et la Chambre du Roy, dedicated to music of the Baroque. As he became further immersed in conducting, his career as an oboist fell by the wayside – he would later explain he was unsuited to the role.

Malgoire founded a second ensemble in 1981, the Atelier Lyrique de Tourcoing, which again was devoted to Baroque music as well as other early operas. He received particular acclaim as its conductor in a production of Monterverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea in 1983, as well as the Mozart/Da Ponte trilogy in 1995.

Malgoire is responsible for more than 140 recordings, many of them works recorded for the first time. At the time of his death, he had been scheduled to conduct concerts years into the future.