William Lincoln Christie (born December 19, 1944 in Buffalo, New York) is an American-born French conductor and harpsichordist. He is noted as a specialist in baroque repertoire and as the founder of the ensemble Les Arts Florissants.
Christie studied art history at Harvard University, where he was briefly assistant conductor of the Harvard Glee Club. From 1966, he began studies at Yale University in music, where he was a student of harpsichordist Ralph Kirkpatrick. He was opposed to the Vietnam War, and served in a reserve officers course to avoid the draft. He subsequently taught at Dartmouth College, but after his Dartmouth post was not renewed, Christie moved to France in 1971. He was one of a number of young men who left the United States at this time because of disagreement with the Vietnam War, and in order to avoid the draft. In France, he became known for his interpretations of Baroque music, particularly French Baroque music, working with Renй Jacobs and others. He also performed contemporary music alongside baroque music with the Ensemble Five Centuries.
In 1979, Christie founded Les Arts Florissants, named after the opera of the same name by Marc-Antoine Charpentier, which was to be its first fully-staged production. Major recognition came in 1986 with the production of Lully's Atys at the Opйra-Comique in Paris. Christie has also presented and recorded works by Andrй Campra, Franзois Couperin, Claudio Monteverdi and Jean-Philippe Rameau.
Christie was a professor at the Paris Conservatoire from 1982 to 1995, and maintains an active role in pedagogy by participating in master classes and academies. In 2002, he founded Le Jardin des Voix, a biennial academy for young singers in Caen. Since 2007, he has had an affiliation with the Juilliard School, providing master classes in historical performance practice.
Christie has expanded beyond his group's core French repertoire, performing Henry Purcell, George Frideric Handel, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He has been guest conductor at the Glyndebourne Festival, and productions for Zurich Opera and the Opera de Lyon. He has also conducted period-instrument performances with more modern ensembles such as the Berlin Philharmonic.
Christie took French citizenship in 1995. He was awarded the Lйgion d'honneur in 1993, and is an Officer in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He was elected a member of the French Acadйmie des Beaux-Arts on November 12, 2008, in the "Unattached members" section (Membres libres), at the seat formerly held by Marcel Marceau