Jordi Savall i Bernadet (born January 14, 1942 in Igualada, Catalonia, Spain) is a Spanish viol player, conductor and composer from Catalonia. He has been one of the major figures in the field of Western early music since the 1970s, largely responsible for bringing instruments of the viol family (most notably the viola da gamba) back to life on the stage. His characteristic repertory emphasizes medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music, although he has occasionally ventured into the Classical and even the Romantic periods.
His musical training started at age six in the school choir of his native town (1947–55). After graduating from the Barcelona Conservatory of Music (where he studied from 1959 to 1965) he specialized in early music, collaborating with Ars Musicae 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.
In 1974 he formed the ensemble Hespèrion XX (known since 2000 as Hespèrion XXI), together with soprano Montserrat Figueras (his wife, who died in 2011), Lorenzo Alpert and Hopkinson Smith. Hespèrion XX favored a style of interpretation characterized simultaneously by great musical vitality and maximal 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 (e.g., Sinfonía [por] Grande Orquesta by Juan Crisóstomo de Arriaga) (1806-1826).
More recently, Savall has performed with family members. The family ensemble has included now-deceased wife Montserrat Figueras and their two children, Arianna and Ferran. Arianna Savall plays the harp and sings, like her mother. Ferran Savall plays the theorbo (bass lute) and sings, not only with his family but also in Barcelona jazz clubs).
Savall's discography includes more than 100 recordings. Originally recording with EMI Classics, and then from 1975 on Michel Bernstein, Astrée label, since 1998 he has recorded on his own label, Alia Vox.
In 2000 Savall was awarded the Premi d'Honor Lluís Carulla, given for service to Catalan culture or for scientific, cultural or civic works in the Catalan language.
He was awarded the Doctor Honoris Causa degree by the University of Barcelona on 27 November 2006.
He was twice nominated for a Grammy, and won the 2011 Grammy Award for 'Best Small Ensemble Performance' for Dinastia Borja. Església i poder al Renaixement.
In 2008, Savall was appointed European Union ambassador for intercultural dialogue. On June 18, 2008 he and wife Montserrat Figueras were named "Artists for Peace" by UNESCO.
In February 2009 he received the Handel Music Prize from the city of Halle, Germany, and the National Music Prize from the National Council of Music and Arts of Catalonia. In 2010 he was honored with the Praetorius Musikpreis Niedersachsen, and a MIDEM Classical Award for his album "Jerusalem – la ville des deux Paix: La paix céleste et la paix terrestre."
In 2013 he was decorated with the highest French award, the Légion d'honneur, by Amin Maalouf.