One minute with: John Eliot Gardiner, conductor and writer


Where are you now and what can you see?

In a train travelling from Dorset to London, noticing how the post-harvest glow gradually gives way to drab suburbia.

What are you currently reading?

Harvest by Jim Crace.

Choose a favourite author, and say why you admire her/him

Philip Pullman: a brilliant prose storyteller with a strong Miltonic voice that challenges your default positions on morality and religion.

Describe the room where you usually write

Either in a corrugated lean-to (part of an old cow byre) or in an oakbeamed eyrie. Both have spectacular (and seductively distracting) views.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

My wife would say Hector Berlioz, but as a historical figure and also one of my heroes (see below) he doesn’t qualify.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

Hector Berlioz, the most consistently underrated revolutionary and romantic musician of the first half of the 19th century, as well as a fabulous author, thinker and chronicler of his times.

John Eliot Gardiner’s ‘Music in the Castle of Heaven: a Portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach’ is published by Allen Lane