A boy chorister at Canterbury Cathedral, Trevor Pinnock attended the Cathedral Choir School, and as a Foundation Scholar at the Royal College of Music he won a number of prizes for harpsichord and organ. Together with the flutist Stephen Preston and the cellist Anthony Pleeth, he made his performing debut with the Galliard Ensemble at the Royal Festival Hall in 1966 and his conducting debut at the English Bach Festival in 1973. Since 1973 he has been director of the English Concert, specializing in the performance of Baroque music on period instruments.
He has toured Europe, the U.S., Canada, Japan, and South America, and in 1988 conducted Handel's oratorio Giulio Caesare at the New York Metropolitan Opera. His recordings include Handel's Messiah, and the complete
symphonies of Mozart. As a harpsichord soloist, he has recorded the complete keyboard works of Rameau and many of J.S. Bach's major keyboard works.
Pinnock was advisor and principal conductor of the National Arts Center Orchestra in Ottowa, Canada, from 1991 to 1996, and in 1993 was made an honorary Doctor of Music at Ottawa University. In 1992 he received the civil honor of Commander of the British Empire for his services to music.
Pinnock is a member of an international group of musicians who, from the 1960s onwards, have worked to establish the artistic criteria of "historically informed" performance practices, using original editions and modern research facilities to recreate the techniques and performing styles is use when the music was written. His experience has been brought to bear on the training and development of instrumentalists and singers in the music of Vivaldi, Bach, Mozart and less well-known composers whose works are now being assessed in the light of Baroque and early Classical performance conventions.