Michael Thompson is internationally acknowledged as one of the world’s leading horn players and as a charismatic and inspirational teacher. As a conductor, he is known as an orchestral trainer and has received acclaim for his work with young musicians.
After studies at the Royal Academy of Music, at age 18 he was appointed principal horn with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Within three years he was offered the principal horn positions of both the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Philharmonia Orchestra; he remained in his Philharmonia post for ten years before leaving to concentrate on his solo and chamber music career. As director, soloist, or conductor, he has performed in Japan, Australia, the U.S., and Europe, including his debut with the Danish Radio Sinfonietta in Copenhagen, Ostgota Winds Symphony in Sweden, and Alabama Symphony Orchestra. He has directed the London Sinfonietta, Bournemouth Sinfonietta, Britten Pears Orchestra, Ulster Youth Orchestra, and the Royal Academy’s Sinfonia and Concert orchestras. He has conducted a number of community orchestras and was principal conductor of the City of Rochester Symphony Orchestra, 2003–08.
His discography includes the major solo horn repertoire, period instrument recordings, and CDs with his wind quintet and horn quartet. As a member of the London Sinfonietta he is at the forefront of new music and has given many first performances, including the U.K. Premieres of Ligeti’s Hamburg Concerto and Richard Ayres’s Noncerto.
An active studio musician, he has played on sound tracks including The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and the James Bond films. His work for Paul McCartney resulted in the composition of Stately Horn, which the Michael Thompson Horn Quartet premiered at Royal Albert Hall and Carnegie Hall. Michael Thompson is a Fellow and Aubrey Brain professor of horn at the Royal Academy of Music and gives regular master classes and lectures worldwide. He plays on an instrument made by Paxman of London.