A choirboy at Southwark Cathedral, Richard Marlow sang at the Coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. He went on to become Organ Scholar and later Research Fellow at Selwyn College, Cambridge. A student of Thurston Dart, he wrote a doctoral dissertation on the 17th-century virginalist Giles Farnaby. After teaching at the University of Southampton, he returned to Cambridge in 1968 succeeding Raymond Leppard as Fellow, Organist and Director of Music at Trinity College and Lecturer in the University Music Faculty.
In 1969 Dr. Marlow founded the Cambridge University Chamber Choir which quickly established an international reputation for its stylish performances. As director of the Chamber Choir, Richard Marlow worked with a number of leading composers, including Benjamin Britten, and his annual performances of the Bach passions with Peter Pears as Evangelist became renowned for their energy, insight and elegance. Following the admission of women undergraduates to Trinity College, Dr. Marlow founded the College’s mixed choir in 1982 and later relinquished his position with the University Chamber Choir. Between 1982 and 2006 under Richard Marlow's direction Trinity College Choir released over 30 records and CDs which met with critical acclaim. Classical Music magazine summed up the choir's contribution to the recording market thus: 'Richard Marlow has fashioned a marvellously responsive instrument from his mixed undergraduate choir... its repertoire is impressively wide and there is an intelligence and responsiveness which makes the transition from Parry to Schutz, Purcell to Walton, wholly congruous.'
Dr. Marlow has been active as an editor and has contributed articles and reviews to various scholarly journals and books, including The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, and the Dictionary of National Biography. He has held posts as a visiting professor at universities in Tokyo, Texas, New England and New Zealand. He has also conducted, lectured and given harpsichord and organ recitals in many European countries as well as in Asia, Australasia, Africa, and North and South America. He has recorded a number of CDs as an organ soloist, and in a career at Trinity spanning more than 40 years has taught and lectured thousands of music students at Cambridge University, including several who have gone on to enjoy international reputations as conductors, singers, instrumentalists and musicologists. He retired as Director of Music at Trinity College in 2006, but continues to teach students, holding a life Fellowship at the College. Writing for www.allmusic.com, Adrian Corleonis observes "Richard Marlow was perhaps the most compelling inheritor of Thurston Dart's knack for transforming important but potentially dry scholarship into ringing gold, as his many broadcast performances and recordings attest".