On the strength of what he had achieved by his early 30s, Sir Neville Marriner, who has died aged 92, would have been remembered as a decent orchestral and chamber music violinist. But at 34 he made a brilliant career move that led to his becoming one of the world’s best-known conductors. His chamber orchestra, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, not only inaugurated a fashion for long-winded ensemble titles, but shot straight to the top of its class, beating the Germans and Italians at their own game. To achieve this feat in Britain, a land not noted for its string playing, was extraordinary.

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