Biography

Jonathan Cable was born in 1948 in Rockville Centre, New York. After moving to Darmstadt, Germany with his family at a young age, he attended Frankfurt American High School, and under the guidance of Band Director Herbert W. Ried, started learning to play the bass in 1963. By the time he graduated in 1966, he had nurtured his love of music of all kinds, and decided to pursue a career in classical music. His initial studies were at the Akademie für Tonkunst in Darmstadt with Claus Fink, before going to the Musikhochschule in Freiburg in 1967 for two years. Serious illness caused him to miss six months of school in 1969, and after reconvalescence, he transferred to the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hannover. Here, he was taught by Claus Fink’s teacher, Horst Stöhr, who was a pupil of Theodor Albin Findeisen, a descendant of the Prague School. At the same time, he started studying the viola da gamba with Heinrich Haferland, and early music performance practice with Lajos Rovatkay.

In 1972, he met Nikolaus and Alice Harnoncourt, Gustav Leonhardt, Frans Brüggen, Alfred Deller, Sigiswald Kuijken and others at a seminar at the Conservatory in The Hague, and his future path in early music became evident. In the fall of that same year, he played for the first time in concert with Harnoncourt’s Concentus musicus Wien. This motivated him to study baroque performance practice with Nikolaus Harnoncourt at the world-famous Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, and in 1973, he moved there, where he not only studied with Harnoncourt, but also obtained his double bass orchestral diploma in 1976 and his solo diploma in 1978. His double bass teacher was the excellent pedagogue Prof. Alfred Bürgschwendtner, who at the time was principal double bass of the Salzburg Mozarteumorchester.

In 1974, he was contacted by Reinhard Goebel, who invited him to play in his newly-formed early music ensemble musica antiqua köln. He was a permanent member of that group until 1981, and then appeared as a guest artist with them until 2002. Among the legacy of this great group, which disbanded in 2006, are the legendary recordings of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos and Orchestral Suites, as well as Telemann’s Tafelmusik.

From 1981 to 2002, he performed with Philippe Herreweghe’s Collegium Vocale Gent. 

Since 1985, he has been principal double bass of Les Arts Florissants conducted by William Christie, where he has also played the violone and the viola da gamba.

His other activities have included master classes at Juilliard and SUNY Stony Brook, as well as lectures, workshops and courses in Austria, Germany, France, Hungary, Brazil and Mexico. He is a sought-after and renowned continuo specialist, and also coaches chamber music, vocal and orchestral projects. He has conducted several concerts of, among other things, Bach cantatas, orchestral works, and early 17th-century Italian motets and madrigals in France, as well as orchestral works from the baroque to the 20th century over a ten-year period in Budapest, Hungary.

In 2017, he was a member of the faculty of the Oregon Bach Festival’s Berwick Academy, giving master classes, a talk on accompanying singers from a continuo player’s point of view, and performing in several concerts with the OBF Orchestra.

Over the last several years, he has prepared new editions of baroque music. Among these are the three remaining Monteverdi operas, which were performed in 2008, 2009 and 2010 at the Teatro Real in Madrid with Les Arts Florissants and released on DVD. Among his future editorial projects is a new edition of the three-volume Complete Double Bass Method by Wenzel Hause, the first comprehensive bass method ever written by a bass player in activity.

In 1995, Jonathan acquired French nationality, all the while maintaining his American citizenship. He now lives in Lyon, France,  New York City, and Berlin. He is fluent in English, French, German and Dutch.