Thomas Beecham
Overview
Sir Thomas Beecham, 2nd Baronet CH
Order of the Companions of Honour
The Order of the Companions of Honour is an order of the Commonwealth realms. It was founded by King George V in June 1917, as a reward for outstanding achievements in the arts, literature, music, science, politics, industry or religion....

(29 April 18798 March 1961) was an English conductor and impresario
Impresario
An impresario is a person who organizes and often finances concerts, plays or operas; analogous to a film producer in filmmaking, television production and an angel investor in business...

 best known for his association with the London Philharmonic
London Philharmonic Orchestra
The London Philharmonic Orchestra , based in London, is one of the major orchestras of the United Kingdom, and is based in the Royal Festival Hall. In addition, the LPO is the main resident orchestra of the Glyndebourne Festival Opera...

 and the Royal Philharmonic
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is a British orchestra based in London. It tours widely, and is sometimes referred to as "Britain's national orchestra"...

 orchestras. He was also closely associated with the Liverpool Philharmonic and Hallé
The Hallé
The Hallé is a symphony orchestra based in Manchester, England. It is the UK's oldest extant symphony orchestra , supports a choir, youth choir and a youth orchestra, and releases its recordings on its own record label, though it has occasionally released recordings on Angel Records and EMI...

 orchestras. From the early 20th century until his death, Beecham was a major influence on the musical life of Britain and, according to the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

, was Britain's first international conductor.

Born to a rich industrial family, Beecham began his career as a conductor in 1899.
Quotations

Too much counterpoint; what is worse, Protestant counterpoint.

Of Johann Sebastian Bach|J. S. Bach; quoted by Neville Cardus, Guardian, 8 March 1971

A musicologist is a man who can read music but can't hear it.

Quoted by H. Proctor-Gregg, Beecham Remembered (1976), p.154

I found it as alluring as a wayward woman and determined to tame it.

Of the music of Frederick Delius|Frederick Delius

The grand tune is the only thing in music that the great public really understands.

If I cannot sing a work, I cannot conduct it.

The musical equivalent of St Pancras Station

Of Edward Elgar|Edward Elgar's 1st symphony

A city life for me!

Of Ralph Vaughan Williams|Ralph Vaughan Williams' Pastoral Symphony

No composer has written as much as 100 bars of worthwhile music since 1925.

Encyclopedia
Sir Thomas Beecham, 2nd Baronet CH
Order of the Companions of Honour
The Order of the Companions of Honour is an order of the Commonwealth realms. It was founded by King George V in June 1917, as a reward for outstanding achievements in the arts, literature, music, science, politics, industry or religion....

(29 April 18798 March 1961) was an English conductor and impresario
Impresario
An impresario is a person who organizes and often finances concerts, plays or operas; analogous to a film producer in filmmaking, television production and an angel investor in business...

 best known for his association with the London Philharmonic
London Philharmonic Orchestra
The London Philharmonic Orchestra , based in London, is one of the major orchestras of the United Kingdom, and is based in the Royal Festival Hall. In addition, the LPO is the main resident orchestra of the Glyndebourne Festival Opera...

 and the Royal Philharmonic
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is a British orchestra based in London. It tours widely, and is sometimes referred to as "Britain's national orchestra"...

 orchestras. He was also closely associated with the Liverpool Philharmonic and Hallé
The Hallé
The Hallé is a symphony orchestra based in Manchester, England. It is the UK's oldest extant symphony orchestra , supports a choir, youth choir and a youth orchestra, and releases its recordings on its own record label, though it has occasionally released recordings on Angel Records and EMI...

 orchestras. From the early 20th century until his death, Beecham was a major influence on the musical life of Britain and, according to the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

, was Britain's first international conductor.

Born to a rich industrial family, Beecham began his career as a conductor in 1899. He used his access to the family fortune to finance opera from the 1910s until the start of the Second World War, staging seasons at Covent Garden
Royal Opera House
The Royal Opera House is an opera house and major performing arts venue in Covent Garden, central London. The large building is often referred to as simply "Covent Garden", after a previous use of the site of the opera house's original construction in 1732. It is the home of The Royal Opera, The...

, Drury Lane
Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane is a West End theatre in Covent Garden, in the City of Westminster, a borough of London. The building faces Catherine Street and backs onto Drury Lane. The building standing today is the most recent in a line of four theatres at the same location dating back to 1663,...

 and His Majesty's Theatre
Her Majesty's Theatre
Her Majesty's Theatre is a West End theatre, in Haymarket, City of Westminster, London. The present building was designed by Charles J. Phipps and was constructed in 1897 for actor-manager Herbert Beerbohm Tree, who established the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art at the theatre...

 with international stars, his own orchestra and a wide repertoire. Among the works he introduced to England were Richard Strauss
Richard Strauss
Richard Georg Strauss was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, which include Der Rosenkavalier and Salome; his Lieder, especially his Four Last Songs; and his tone poems and orchestral works, such as Death and Transfiguration, Till...

's Elektra
Elektra (opera)
Elektra is a one-act opera by Richard Strauss, to a German-language libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal, which he adapted from his 1903 drama Elektra. The opera was the first of many collaborations between Strauss and Hofmannsthal...

, Salome
Salome (opera)
Salome is an opera in one act by Richard Strauss to a German libretto by the composer, based on Hedwig Lachmann’s German translation of the French play Salomé by Oscar Wilde. Strauss dedicated the opera to his friend Sir Edgar Speyer....

and Der Rosenkavalier
Der Rosenkavalier
Der Rosenkavalier is a comic opera in three acts by Richard Strauss to an original German libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. It is loosely adapted from the novel Les amours du chevalier de Faublas by Louvet de Couvrai and Molière’s comedy Monsieur de Pourceaugnac...

and three operas by Frederick Delius
Frederick Delius
Frederick Theodore Albert Delius, CH was an English composer. Born in the north of England to a prosperous mercantile family of German extraction, he resisted attempts to recruit him to commerce...

.

Together with his younger colleague Malcolm Sargent
Malcolm Sargent
Sir Harold Malcolm Watts Sargent was an English conductor, organist and composer widely regarded as Britain's leading conductor of choral works...

, Beecham founded the London Philharmonic, and he conducted its first performance at the Queen's Hall
Queen's Hall
The Queen's Hall was a concert hall in Langham Place, London, opened in 1893. Designed by the architect T.E. Knightley, it had room for an audience of about 2,500 people. It became London's principal concert venue. From 1895 until 1941, it was the home of the promenade concerts founded by Robert...

 in 1932. In the 1940s, he worked for three years in the United States, where he was music director of the Seattle Symphony
Seattle Symphony
The Seattle Symphony is an American orchestra based in Seattle, Washington. Since 1998, the orchestra is resident at Benaroya Hall. The orchestra's season runs from September through July, and serves as the pit orchestra for most productions of the Seattle Opera in addition to its own concerts...

 and conducted at the Metropolitan Opera
Metropolitan Opera
The Metropolitan Opera is an opera company, located in New York City. Originally founded in 1880, the company gave its first performance on October 22, 1883. The company is operated by the non-profit Metropolitan Opera Association, with Peter Gelb as general manager...

. After his return to Britain, he founded the Royal Philharmonic in 1946 and conducted it until his death in 1961.

Beecham's repertoire was eclectic, sometimes favouring lesser-known composers over famous ones. His specialities included composers whose works were neglected in Britain before he became their advocate, such as Delius and Berlioz
Hector Berlioz
Hector Berlioz was a French Romantic composer, best known for his compositions Symphonie fantastique and Grande messe des morts . Berlioz made significant contributions to the modern orchestra with his Treatise on Instrumentation. He specified huge orchestral forces for some of his works; as a...

. Other composers with whose music he was frequently associated were Haydn
Joseph Haydn
Franz Joseph Haydn , known as Joseph Haydn , was an Austrian composer, one of the most prolific and prominent composers of the Classical period. He is often called the "Father of the Symphony" and "Father of the String Quartet" because of his important contributions to these forms...

, Schubert
Franz Schubert
Franz Peter Schubert was an Austrian composer.Although he died at an early age, Schubert was tremendously prolific. He wrote some 600 Lieder, nine symphonies , liturgical music, operas, some incidental music, and a large body of chamber and solo piano music...

, Sibelius
Jean Sibelius
Jean Sibelius was a Finnish composer of the later Romantic period whose music played an important role in the formation of the Finnish national identity. His mastery of the orchestra has been described as "prodigious."...

 and the composer he revered above all others, Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , baptismal name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart , was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. He composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music...

.

Early years

Beecham was born in St Helens
St Helens, Merseyside
St Helens is a large town in Merseyside, England. It is the largest settlement and administrative centre of the Metropolitan Borough of St Helens with a population of just over 100,000, part of an urban area with a total population of 176,843 at the time of the 2001 Census...

, Lancashire
Lancashire
Lancashire is a non-metropolitan county of historic origin in the North West of England. It takes its name from the city of Lancaster, and is sometimes known as the County of Lancaster. Although Lancaster is still considered to be the county town, Lancashire County Council is based in Preston...

, in a house adjoining the Beecham's Pills
Beecham's Pills
Beecham's Pills were a laxative first marketed around 1842 in St Helens, Lancashire. They were invented by Thomas Beecham , grandfather of Thomas Beecham ....

 laxative factory founded by his grandfather, Thomas Beecham
Thomas Beecham (chemist)
Thomas Beecham was the founder of Beechams, which became one of the United Kingdom's largest pharmaceutical businesses.-Career:...

. His parents were Joseph Beecham
Sir Joseph Beecham, 1st Baronet
Sir Joseph Beecham, 1st Baronet , was a British businessman.Beecham was the eldest son of Thomas Beecham and Jane Evans. He played a large part in the growth and expansion of his father's medicinal pill business which he joined in 1866. He was responsible for Beechams' factory and office in...

, the elder son of Thomas, and Josephine, née Burnett. In 1885, with the family firm flourishing financially, Joseph Beecham moved his family to a large house in Ewanville, Huyton
Huyton
Huyton is a suburb of Liverpool within the Metropolitan Borough of Knowsley, with some parts belonging to the borough of Liverpool in Merseyside, England. It is part of the Liverpool Urban Area and has close associations with its neighbour, Roby, having both formerly been part of the Huyton with...

, near Liverpool
Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

. Their former home was demolished to make room for an extension to the pill factory.

Beecham was educated at Rossall School
Rossall School
Rossall School is a British, co-educational, independent school, between Cleveleys and Fleetwood, Lancashire. Rossall was founded in 1844 by St. Vincent Beechey as a sister school to Marlborough College which had been founded the previous year...

 between 1892 and 1897, after which he hoped to attend a music conservatoire in Germany, but his father forbade it, and instead Beecham went to Wadham College, Oxford
Wadham College, Oxford
Wadham College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, located at the southern end of Parks Road in central Oxford. It was founded by Nicholas and Dorothy Wadham, wealthy Somerset landowners, during the reign of King James I...

, to read Classics
Classics
Classics is the branch of the Humanities comprising the languages, literature, philosophy, history, art, archaeology and other culture of the ancient Mediterranean world ; especially Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome during Classical Antiquity Classics (sometimes encompassing Classical Studies or...

. He did not find university life to his taste and successfully sought his father's permission to leave Oxford in 1898. He studied composition privately with Frederic Austin
Frederic Austin
Frederic Austin was an English baritone singer, a musical teacher and composer in the period 1905–30. He is best remembered for his restoration and production of The Beggar's Opera by John Gay and Johann Christoph Pepusch, and its sequel, Polly, in 1920–23...

 in Liverpool, Charles Wood
Charles Wood (composer)
Charles Wood was an Irish composer and teacher.Born in Armagh, Ireland, he was the fifth child and third son of Charles Wood Sr. and Jemima Wood. His father was a tenor in the choir of the nearby St. Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh , and later worked as the Diocesan Registrar of the church...

 in London, and Moritz Moszkowski
Moritz Moszkowski
Moritz Moszkowski was a German Jewish composer, pianist, and teacher of Polish descent. Ignacy Paderewski said, "After Chopin, Moszkowski best understands how to write for the piano"...

 in Paris. As a conductor, he was self-taught.

First orchestras

Beecham first conducted in public in St Helens in October 1899, with an ad hoc ensemble comprising local musicians and players from the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the Hallé
The Hallé
The Hallé is a symphony orchestra based in Manchester, England. It is the UK's oldest extant symphony orchestra , supports a choir, youth choir and a youth orchestra, and releases its recordings on its own record label, though it has occasionally released recordings on Angel Records and EMI...

 in Manchester. A month later, he stood in at short notice for the celebrated conductor Hans Richter
Hans Richter (conductor)
Hans Richter was an Austrian orchestral and operatic conductor.-Biography:Richter was born in Raab , Kingdom of Hungary, Austro-Hungarian Empire. His mother was opera-singer Jozsefa Csazenszky. He studied at the Vienna Conservatory...

 at a concert by the Hallé to mark Joseph Beecham's inauguration as mayor of St Helens. Soon afterwards, Joseph Beecham secretly committed his wife to a mental hospital. Thomas and his elder sister Emily helped to secure their mother's release and to force their father to pay annual alimony of £4,500. For this, Joseph disinherited them. Beecham was estranged from his father for ten years.

Beecham's professional début as a conductor was in 1902 at the Shakespeare Theatre, Clapham
Clapham
Clapham is a district in south London, England, within the London Borough of Lambeth.Clapham covers the postcodes of SW4 and parts of SW9, SW8 and SW12. Clapham Common is shared with the London Borough of Wandsworth, although Lambeth has responsibility for running the common as a whole. According...

, with Balfe
Michael William Balfe
Michael William Balfe was an Irish composer, best-remembered for his opera The Bohemian Girl.After a short career as a violinist, Balfe pursued an operatic singing career, while he began to compose. In a career spanning more than 40 years, he composed 38 operas, almost 250 songs and other works...

's The Bohemian Girl
The Bohemian Girl
The Bohemian Girl is an opera composed by Michael William Balfe with a libretto by Alfred Bunn. The plot is loosely based on a Cervantes tale, La Gitanilla.The opera was first produced in London at the Drury Lane Theatre on November 27, 1843...

, for the Imperial Grand Opera Company. He was engaged as assistant conductor for a tour and was allotted four other operas, including Carmen
Carmen
Carmen is a French opéra comique by Georges Bizet. The libretto is by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, based on the novella of the same title by Prosper Mérimée, first published in 1845, itself possibly influenced by the narrative poem The Gypsies by Alexander Pushkin...

and Pagliacci
Pagliacci
Pagliacci , sometimes incorrectly rendered with a definite article as I Pagliacci, is an opera consisting of a prologue and two acts written and composed by Ruggero Leoncavallo. It recounts the tragedy of a jealous husband in a commedia dell'arte troupe...

. A Beecham biographer calls the company "grandly named but decidedly ramshackle", though Beecham's Carmen was Zélie de Lussan
Zélie de Lussan
Zélie de Lussan was an American opera singer of French descent who was successful in her native country but made most of her career in England. The wide range of her voice allowed her to sing both mezzo-soprano and soprano roles. Among de Lussan's most famous roles was the title role in Georges...

, a leading exponent of the title role. Beecham was also composing music in these early years, but he was not satisfied with his own efforts and instead concentrated on conducting.
In 1906 Beecham was invited to conduct the New Symphony Orchestra, a recently formed ensemble of 46 players, in a series of concerts at the Bechstein Hall
Wigmore Hall
Wigmore Hall is a leading international recital venue that specialises in hosting performances of chamber music and is best known for classical recitals of piano, song and instrumental music. It is located at 36 Wigmore Street, London, UK and was built to provide London with a venue that was both...

 in London. Throughout his career, Beecham frequently chose to programme works to suit his own tastes rather than those of the paying public. In his early discussions with his new orchestra, he proposed works by a long list of barely-known composers such as Étienne Méhul
Étienne Méhul
Etienne Nicolas Méhul was a French composer, "the most important opera composer in France during the Revolution." He was also the first composer to be called a "Romantic".-Life:...

, Nicolas Dalayrac
Nicolas Dalayrac
Nicolas-Marie d'Alayrac, known as Nicolas Dalayrac , was a French composer, best known for his opéras-comiques.- Biography :...

 and Ferdinando Paer
Ferdinando Paer
-Biography:Paer was born at Parma. His father was a trumpeter with the Ducal Bodyguards and also performed at church and court events. His name, Ferdinando, was after Duke Ferdinand of Parma and was given to him by Archduchess Maria Amalia of Austria, Duke Ferdinand's wife...

. During this period, Beecham first encountered the music of Frederick Delius
Frederick Delius
Frederick Theodore Albert Delius, CH was an English composer. Born in the north of England to a prosperous mercantile family of German extraction, he resisted attempts to recruit him to commerce...

, which he at once loved deeply and with which he became closely associated for the rest of his life.

Beecham quickly concluded that to compete with the two existing London orchestras, the Queen's Hall
Queen's Hall
The Queen's Hall was a concert hall in Langham Place, London, opened in 1893. Designed by the architect T.E. Knightley, it had room for an audience of about 2,500 people. It became London's principal concert venue. From 1895 until 1941, it was the home of the promenade concerts founded by Robert...

 Orchestra and the recently founded London Symphony Orchestra
London Symphony Orchestra
The London Symphony Orchestra is a major orchestra of the United Kingdom, as well as one of the best-known orchestras in the world. Since 1982, the LSO has been based in London's Barbican Centre.-History:...

 (LSO), his forces must be expanded to full symphonic strength and play in larger halls. For two years starting in October 1907, Beecham and the enlarged New Symphony Orchestra gave concerts at the Queen's Hall. He paid little attention to the box office: his programmes were described by a biographer as "even more certain to deter the public then than it would be in our own day". The principal pieces of his first concert with the orchestra were d'Indy
Vincent d'Indy
Vincent d'Indy was a French composer and teacher.-Life:Paul Marie Théodore Vincent d'Indy was born in Paris into an aristocratic family of royalist and Catholic persuasion. He had piano lessons from an early age from his paternal grandmother, who passed him on to Antoine François Marmontel and...

's symphonic ballad La forêt enchantée, Smetana
Bedrich Smetana
Bedřich Smetana was a Czech composer who pioneered the development of a musical style which became closely identified with his country's aspirations to independent statehood. He is thus widely regarded in his homeland as the father of Czech music...

's symphonic poem Šárka, and Lalo
Édouard Lalo
Édouard-Victoire-Antoine Lalo was a French composer.-Biography:Lalo was born in Lille , in northernmost France. He attended that city's music conservatory in his youth. Then, beginning at age 16, Lalo studied at the Paris Conservatoire under Berlioz's old enemy François Antoine Habeneck...

's little-known Symphony in G minor
Symphonie (Lalo)
The Symphony in G minor was Édouard Lalo’s final original orchestral composition. It was composed in 1885-1886....

. Beecham retained an affection for the last work: it was among the works he conducted at his final recording sessions more than fifty years later.

In 1908 Beecham and the New Symphony Orchestra parted company, disagreeing about artistic control and, in particular, the deputy system. Under this system, orchestral players, if offered a better-paid engagement elsewhere, could send a substitute to a rehearsal or a concert. The treasurer of the Royal Philharmonic Society
Royal Philharmonic Society
The Royal Philharmonic Society is a British music society, formed in 1813. It was originally formed in London to promote performances of instrumental music there. Many distinguished composers and performers have taken part in its concerts...

 described it thus: "A, whom you want, signs to play at your concert. He sends B (whom you don't mind) to the first rehearsal. B, without your knowledge or consent, sends C to the second rehearsal. Not being able to play at the concert, C sends D, whom you would have paid five shillings to stay away." Henry Wood
Henry Wood
Henry Wood was a British conductor.Henry Wood may also refer to:* Henry C. Wood , American Civil War Medal of Honor recipient* Henry Wood , English cricketer...

 had already banned the deputy system in the Queen's Hall Orchestra (provoking rebel players to found the London Symphony Orchestra), and Beecham followed suit. The New Symphony Orchestra survived without him and subsequently became the Royal Albert Hall
Royal Albert Hall
The Royal Albert Hall is a concert hall situated on the northern edge of the South Kensington area, in the City of Westminster, London, England, best known for holding the annual summer Proms concerts since 1941....

 Orchestra.

In 1909, Beecham founded the Beecham Symphony Orchestra. He did not poach from established symphony orchestras, but instead he recruited from theatre bandrooms, local symphony societies, the palm court
Palm court
A large atrium with palm trees, usually in a prestigious hotel, where functions are staged, notably tea dances. Examples include the Langham Hotel , Alexandra Palace , the Carlton Hotel , and the Ritz Hotel , all in London, and the Alexandria Hotel in Los Angeles, California.The concept of the...

s of hotels, and music colleges. The result was a youthful team – the typical age of his players was 25. They included names that would become celebrated in their fields, such as Albert Sammons
Albert Sammons
Albert Edward Sammons CBE was an English violinist, composer and later violin teacher. Almost self-taught on the violin, he had a wide repertoire as both chamber musician and soloist, although his reputation rests mainly on his association with British composers, especially Elgar...

, Lionel Tertis
Lionel Tertis
Lionel Tertis, CBE was an English violist and one of the first viola players to find international fame.Tertis was born in West Hartlepool, the son of Polish-Jewish immigrants, and initially studied the violin in Leipzig and at the Royal Academy of Music in London...

, Eric Coates
Eric Coates
Eric Coates was an English composer of light music and a viola player.-Life:Eric was born in Hucknall in Nottinghamshire to William Harrison Coates , a surgeon, and his wife, Mary Jane Gwynne, hailing from Usk in Monmouthshire...

 and Eugene Cruft
Eugene Cruft
Eugene John Cruft was a British double bass player. He has been called the "leading double-bass player of his generation"....

.

Because he persistently programmed works that did not attract the public, Beecham's musical activities at this time consistently lost money. As a result of his estrangement from his father between 1899 and 1909, his access to the Beecham family fortune was strictly limited. From 1907 he had an annuity of £700 left to him in his grandfather's will, and his mother subsidised some of his loss-making concerts, but it was not until father and son were reconciled in 1909 that Beecham was able to draw on the family fortune to promote opera.

1910–1920

From 1910, subsidised by his father, Beecham realised his ambition to mount opera seasons at Covent Garden
Royal Opera House
The Royal Opera House is an opera house and major performing arts venue in Covent Garden, central London. The large building is often referred to as simply "Covent Garden", after a previous use of the site of the opera house's original construction in 1732. It is the home of The Royal Opera, The...

 and other houses. In the Edwardian opera house, the star singers were regarded as all-important, and conductors were seen as ancillary. Between 1910 and 1939 Beecham did much to change the balance of power.
In 1910, Beecham either conducted or was responsible as impresario
Impresario
An impresario is a person who organizes and often finances concerts, plays or operas; analogous to a film producer in filmmaking, television production and an angel investor in business...

 for 190 performances at Covent Garden and His Majesty's Theatre
Her Majesty's Theatre
Her Majesty's Theatre is a West End theatre, in Haymarket, City of Westminster, London. The present building was designed by Charles J. Phipps and was constructed in 1897 for actor-manager Herbert Beerbohm Tree, who established the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art at the theatre...

. His assistant conductors were Bruno Walter
Bruno Walter
Bruno Walter was a German-born conductor. He is considered one of the best known conductors of the 20th century. Walter was born in Berlin, but is known to have lived in several countries between 1933 and 1939, before finally settling in the United States in 1939...

 and Percy Pitt
Percy Pitt
Percy Pitt was an English organist and conductor.A native of London, Pitt studied music at the conservatory in Leipzig, also working in Munich with Josef Rheinberger...

. During the year, he mounted 34 different operas, most of them either new to London or almost unknown there. Beecham later acknowledged that in his early years the operas he chose to present were too obscure to attract the public. During his 1910 season at His Majesty's, the rival Grand Opera Syndicate put on a concurrent season of its own at Covent Garden; London's total opera performances for the year amounted to 273 performances, far more than the box-office demand could support. Of the 34 operas that Beecham staged in 1910, only four made money: Richard Strauss
Richard Strauss
Richard Georg Strauss was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, which include Der Rosenkavalier and Salome; his Lieder, especially his Four Last Songs; and his tone poems and orchestral works, such as Death and Transfiguration, Till...

's new operas Elektra
Elektra (opera)
Elektra is a one-act opera by Richard Strauss, to a German-language libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal, which he adapted from his 1903 drama Elektra. The opera was the first of many collaborations between Strauss and Hofmannsthal...

and Salome
Salome (opera)
Salome is an opera in one act by Richard Strauss to a German libretto by the composer, based on Hedwig Lachmann’s German translation of the French play Salomé by Oscar Wilde. Strauss dedicated the opera to his friend Sir Edgar Speyer....

,
receiving their first, and highly-publicised, performances in Britain, and The Tales of Hoffmann and Die Fledermaus
Die Fledermaus
Die Fledermaus is an operetta composed by Johann Strauss II to a German libretto by Karl Haffner and Richard Genée.- Literary sources :...

.

In 1911 and 1912, the Beecham Symphony Orchestra played for Sergei Diaghilev
Sergei Diaghilev
Sergei Pavlovich Diaghilev , usually referred to outside of Russia as Serge, was a Russian art critic, patron, ballet impresario and founder of the Ballets Russes, from which many famous dancers and choreographers would arise.-Early life and career:...

's Ballets Russes
Ballets Russes
The Ballets Russes was an itinerant ballet company from Russia which performed between 1909 and 1929 in many countries. Directed by Sergei Diaghilev, it is regarded as the greatest ballet company of the 20th century. Many of its dancers originated from the Imperial Ballet of Saint Petersburg...

, both at Covent Garden and at the Krolloper in Berlin, under the batons of Beecham and Pierre Monteux
Pierre Monteux
Pierre Monteux was an orchestra conductor. Born in Paris, France, Monteux later became an American citizen.-Life and career:Monteux was born in Paris in 1875. His family was descended from Sephardi Jews who came to France in the wake of the Spanish Inquisition. He studied violin from an early age,...

, Diaghilev's chief conductor. Beecham was much admired for conducting the complicated new score of Stravinsky
Igor Stravinsky
Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky ; 6 April 1971) was a Russian, later naturalized French, and then naturalized American composer, pianist, and conductor....

's Petrushka
Petrushka
Petrouchka or Petrushka is a ballet with music by Russian composer Igor Stravinsky, composed in 1910–11 and revised in 1947....

, at two days' notice and without rehearsal, when Monteux became unavailable. While in Berlin, Beecham and his orchestra, in Beecham's words, caused a "mild stir", scoring a triumph: the orchestra was agreed by the Berlin press to be an elite body, one of the best in the world. The principal Berlin musical weekly, Die Signale, asked, "Where does London find such magnificent young instrumentalists?" The violins were credited with rich, noble tone, the woodwinds with lustre, the brass, "which has not quite the dignity and amplitude of our best German brass", with uncommon delicacy of execution.
Beecham's 1913 seasons included the British premiere of Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier
Der Rosenkavalier
Der Rosenkavalier is a comic opera in three acts by Richard Strauss to an original German libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. It is loosely adapted from the novel Les amours du chevalier de Faublas by Louvet de Couvrai and Molière’s comedy Monsieur de Pourceaugnac...

at Covent Garden, and a "Grand Season of Russian Opera and Ballet" at Drury Lane
Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane is a West End theatre in Covent Garden, in the City of Westminster, a borough of London. The building faces Catherine Street and backs onto Drury Lane. The building standing today is the most recent in a line of four theatres at the same location dating back to 1663,...

. At the latter there were three operas, all starring Feodor Chaliapin
Feodor Chaliapin
Feodor Ivanovich Chaliapin was a Russian opera singer. The possessor of a large and expressive bass voice, he enjoyed an important international career at major opera houses and is often credited with establishing the tradition of naturalistic acting in his chosen art form.During the first phase...

, and all new to Britain: Mussorgsky
Modest Mussorgsky
Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky was a Russian composer, one of the group known as 'The Five'. He was an innovator of Russian music in the romantic period...

's Boris Godunov
Boris Godunov (opera)
Boris Godunov is an opera by Modest Mussorgsky . The work was composed between 1868 and 1873 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. It is Mussorgsky's only completed opera and is considered his masterpiece. Its subjects are the Russian ruler Boris Godunov, who reigned as Tsar during the Time of Troubles,...

and Khovanshchina
Khovanshchina
Khovanshchina is an opera in five acts by Modest Mussorgsky. The work was written between 1872 and 1880 in St. Petersburg, Russia. The composer wrote the libretto based on historical sources...

, and Rimsky-Korsakov
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov was a Russian composer, and a member of the group of composers known as The Five.The Five, also known as The Mighty Handful or The Mighty Coterie, refers to a circle of composers who met in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in the years 1856–1870: Mily Balakirev , César...

's Ivan the Terrible. There were also 15 ballets, with leading dancers including Vaslav Nijinsky
Vaslav Nijinsky
Vaslav Nijinsky was a Russian ballet dancer and choreographer of Polish descent, cited as the greatest male dancer of the 20th century. He grew to be celebrated for his virtuosity and for the depth and intensity of his characterizations...

 and Tamara Karsavina
Tamara Karsavina
Tamara Platonovna Karsavina was a famous Russian ballerina, renowned for her beauty, who was most noted as a Principal Artist of the Imperial Russian Ballet and later the Ballets Russes of Serge Diaghilev...

. The ballets included Debussy
Claude Debussy
Claude-Achille Debussy was a French composer. Along with Maurice Ravel, he was one of the most prominent figures working within the field of impressionist music, though he himself intensely disliked the term when applied to his compositions...

's Jeux
Jeux
Jeux is the last work for orchestra written by Claude Debussy. Described as a "poème dansé" , it was originally intended to accompany a ballet, and was written for the Ballets Russes of Serge Diaghilev to choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky. Debussy initially objected to the scenario, but...

and his controversially erotic L'après-midi d'un faune, and the British premiere of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring
The Rite of Spring
The Rite of Spring, original French title Le sacre du printemps , is a ballet with music by Igor Stravinsky; choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky; and concept, set design and costumes by Nicholas Roerich...

,
six weeks after its first performance in Paris. Beecham shared Monteux's private dislike of the piece, much preferring Petrushka. Beecham did not conduct during this season; Monteux and others conducted the Beecham Symphony Orchestra. The following year, Beecham and his father presented Rimsky-Korsakov's The Maid of Pskov
The Maid of Pskov
The Maid of Pskov , is an opera in three acts and six scenes by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. The libretto was written by the composer, and is based on the drama of the same name by Lev Mei. The story concerns the Tsar Ivan the Terrible and his efforts to subject the cities of Pskov and Novgorod to his...

and Borodin
Alexander Borodin
Alexander Porfiryevich Borodin was a Russian Romantic composer and chemist of Georgian–Russian parentage. He was a member of the group of composers called The Five , who were dedicated to producing a specifically Russian kind of art music...

's Prince Igor
Prince Igor
Prince Igor is an opera in four acts with a prologue. It was composed by Alexander Borodin. The composer adapted the libretto from the East Slavic epic The Lay of Igor's Host, which recounts the campaign of Russian prince Igor Svyatoslavich against the invading Polovtsian tribes in 1185...

, with Chaliapin, and Stravinsky's The Nightingale
The Nightingale (opera)
The Nightingale is a Russian conte lyrique in three acts by Igor Stravinsky. It is generally known by its French name...

.


During the First World War, Beecham strove, often without a fee, to keep music alive in London, Liverpool, Manchester and other British cities. He conducted for, and gave financial support to, three institutions with which he was connected at various times: the Hallé Orchestra, the LSO and the Royal Philharmonic Society. In 1915 he formed the Beecham Opera Company, with mainly British singers, performing in London and throughout the country. In 1916, he received a knighthood
Knight Bachelor
The rank of Knight Bachelor is a part of the British honours system. It is the most basic rank of a man who has been knighted by the monarch but not as a member of one of the organised Orders of Chivalry...

 in the New Year's Honours and succeeded to the baronet
Baronet
A baronet or the rare female equivalent, a baronetess , is the holder of a hereditary baronetcy awarded by the British Crown...

cy on his father's death later that year.

After the war, there were joint Covent Garden seasons with the Grand Opera Syndicate in 1919 and 1920, but these were, according to a biographer, pale confused echoes of the years before 1914. These seasons included forty productions, of which Beecham conducted only nine. After the 1920 season, Beecham temporarily withdrew from conducting to deal with a financial problem that he described as "the most trying and unpleasant experience of my life".

Covent Garden estate

Influenced by an ambitious financier, James White
James White (financier)
James White was an English financier, property developer and speculator. From a working class family in Lancashire, he worked at a number of jobs before becoming well known in the years before the First World War as a boxing promoter. From that, he moved into property and other transactions,...

, Sir Joseph Beecham had agreed, in July 1914, to buy the Covent Garden estate from the Duke of Bedford
Herbrand Russell, 11th Duke of Bedford
Herbrand Arthur Russell, 11th Duke of Bedford KG KBE DL LLD FRS FSA was the son of Francis Russell, 9th Duke of Bedford.-Family:...

 and float a limited company
Limited company
A limited company is a company in which the liability of the members or subscribers of the company is limited to what they have invested or guaranteed to the company. Limited companies may be limited by shares or by guarantee. And the former of these, a limited company limited by shares, may be...

 to manage the estate commercially. The deal was described by The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

as "one of the largest ever carried out in real estate in London". Sir Joseph paid an initial deposit of £200,000 and covenanted to pay the balance of the £2 million purchase price on 11 November. Within a month, however, the First World War broke out, and new official restrictions on the use of capital prevented the completion of the contract. The estate and market continued to be managed by the Duke's staff, and in October 1916, Joseph Beecham died suddenly, with the transaction still uncompleted. The matter was brought before the civil courts with the aim of disentangling Sir Joseph's affairs; the court and all parties agreed that a private company should be formed, with his two sons as directors, to complete the Covent Garden contract. In July 1918, the Duke and his trustees conveyed the estate to the new company, subject to a mortgage of the balance of the purchase price still outstanding: £1.25 million.

Beecham and his brother Henry had to sell enough of their father's estate to discharge this mortgage. For more than three years, Beecham was absent from the musical scene, working to sell property worth over £1 million. By 1923 enough money had been raised. The mortgage was discharged, and Beecham's personal liabilities, amounting to £41,558, were paid in full. In 1924 the Covent Garden property and the pill-making business at St Helens were united in one company, Beecham Estates and Pills. The nominal capital was £1,850,000, of which Beecham had a substantial share.

London Philharmonic

After his absence, Beecham first reappeared on the rostrum conducting the Hallé in Manchester in March 1923, in a programme including works by Berlioz
Hector Berlioz
Hector Berlioz was a French Romantic composer, best known for his compositions Symphonie fantastique and Grande messe des morts . Berlioz made significant contributions to the modern orchestra with his Treatise on Instrumentation. He specified huge orchestral forces for some of his works; as a...

, Bizet
Georges Bizet
Georges Bizet formally Alexandre César Léopold Bizet, was a French composer, mainly of operas. In a career cut short by his early death, he achieved few successes before his final work, Carmen, became one of the most popular and frequently performed works in the entire opera repertory.During a...

, Delius and Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , baptismal name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart , was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. He composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music...

. He returned to London the following month, conducting the combined Royal Albert Hall
Royal Albert Hall
The Royal Albert Hall is a concert hall situated on the northern edge of the South Kensington area, in the City of Westminster, London, England, best known for holding the annual summer Proms concerts since 1941....

 Orchestra (the renamed New Symphony Orchestra) and London Symphony Orchestra in April 1923. The main work on the programme was Richard Strauss's Ein Heldenleben
Ein Heldenleben
Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40, is a tone poem by Richard Strauss. The work was completed in 1898, and heralds the composer's more mature period in this genre...

. No longer with an orchestra of his own, Beecham established a relationship with the London Symphony Orchestra that lasted for the rest of the 1920s. Towards the end of the decade, he negotiated inconclusively with the BBC over the possibility of establishing a permanent radio orchestra.

In 1931, Beecham was approached by the rising young conductor Malcolm Sargent
Malcolm Sargent
Sir Harold Malcolm Watts Sargent was an English conductor, organist and composer widely regarded as Britain's leading conductor of choral works...

 with a proposal to set up a permanent, salaried orchestra with a subsidy guaranteed by Sargent's patrons, the Courtauld family. Originally Sargent and Beecham envisaged a reshuffled version of the London Symphony Orchestra, but the LSO, a self-governing co-operative, balked at weeding out and replacing underperforming players. In 1932 Beecham lost patience and agreed with Sargent to set up a new orchestra from scratch. The London Philharmonic Orchestra
London Philharmonic Orchestra
The London Philharmonic Orchestra , based in London, is one of the major orchestras of the United Kingdom, and is based in the Royal Festival Hall. In addition, the LPO is the main resident orchestra of the Glyndebourne Festival Opera...

 (LPO), as it was named, consisted of 106 players including a few young musicians straight from music college, many established players from provincial orchestras, and 17 of the LSO's leading members. The principals included Paul Beard, George Stratton, Anthony Pini, Gerald Jackson, Léon Goossens
Léon Goossens
Léon Jean Goossens CBE, FRCM was a British oboist.He was born in Liverpool and studied at the Royal College of Music...

, Reginald Kell
Reginald Kell
Reginald Clifford Kell was a British clarinetist.-Career:Born in York, England, Kell was the first prominent player to apply vibrato consciously and consistently to his tone, in which respect he modelled himself on his colleague the oboist Léon Goossens...

, James Bradshaw and Marie Goossens.
The orchestra made its debut at the Queen's Hall on 7 October 1932, conducted by Beecham. After the first item, Berlioz's Roman Carnival Overture, the audience went wild, some of them standing on their seats to clap and shout. During the next eight years, the LPO appeared nearly a hundred times at the Queen's Hall for the Royal Philharmonic Society alone, played for Beecham's opera seasons at Covent Garden, and made more than 300 gramophone records.

By the early 1930s, Beecham had secured substantial control of the Covent Garden opera seasons. Wishing to concentrate on music-making rather than management, he assumed the role of artistic director, and Geoffrey Toye
Geoffrey Toye
Edward Geoffrey Toye , better known as Geoffrey Toye, was an English conductor, composer and opera producer....

 was recruited as managing director. In 1933, Tristan und Isolde
Tristan und Isolde
Tristan und Isolde is an opera, or music drama, in three acts by Richard Wagner to a German libretto by the composer, based largely on the romance by Gottfried von Straßburg. It was composed between 1857 and 1859 and premiered in Munich on 10 June 1865 with Hans von Bülow conducting...

with Frida Leider
Frida Leider
Frida Leider was a German opera singer.Leider was one of the most important dramatic sopranos of the 20th century. Her most famous roles were Wagner's Isolde and Brünnhilde, Beethoven's Fidelio, Mozart's Donna Anna, and Verdi's Aida and Leonora...

 and Lauritz Melchior
Lauritz Melchior
Lauritz Melchior was a Danish and later American opera singer. He was the pre-eminent Wagnerian tenor of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, and has since come to be considered the quintessence of his voice type.-Biography:...

 was a success, and the season continued with the Ring
Der Ring des Nibelungen
Der Ring des Nibelungen is a cycle of four epic operas by the German composer Richard Wagner . The works are based loosely on characters from the Norse sagas and the Nibelungenlied...

cycle and nine other operas. The 1934 season featured Conchita Supervía
Conchita Supervia
Conchita Supervía was a highly popular Spanish mezzo-soprano singer who appeared in opera in Europe and America and also gave recitals....

 in La Cenerentola
La Cenerentola
La Cenerentola, ossia La bontà in trionfo is an operatic dramma giocoso in two acts by Gioachino Rossini. The libretto was written by Jacopo Ferretti, based on the fairy tale Cinderella...

,
and Lotte Lehmann
Lotte Lehmann
Charlotte "Lotte" Lehmann was a German soprano who was especially associated with German repertory. She gave memorable performances in the operas of Richard Strauss, Richard Wagner, Ludwig van Beethoven, Puccini, Mozart and Massenet. The Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier was considered her greatest...

 and Alexander Kipnis
Alexander Kipnis
Alexander Kipnis , was a Ukrainian-born operatic bass of great artistry and vocal endowment.Having initially established his artistic reputation in Europe, Kipnis became an American citizen in 1931, following his marriage to an American...

 in the Ring. Clemens Krauss
Clemens Krauss
Clemens Heinrich Krauss was an Austrian conductor and opera impresario, particularly associated with the music of Richard Strauss.-Biography:...

 conducted the British première of Strauss's Arabella
Arabella
Arabella is a lyric comedy or opera in 3 acts by Richard Strauss to a German libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal, their sixth and last operatic collaboration. It was first performed on 1 July 1933, at the Dresden Sächsisches Staatstheater....

. During 1933 and 1934, Beecham repelled attempts by John Christie to form a link between Christie's new Glyndebourne Festival
Glyndebourne Festival Opera
Glyndebourne Festival Opera is an English opera festival held at Glyndebourne, an English country house near Lewes, in East Sussex, England.-History:...

 and the Royal Opera House. Beecham and Toye fell out over the latter's insistence on bringing in a popular film star, Grace Moore
Grace Moore
Grace Moore was an American operatic soprano and actress in musical theatre and film. She was nicknamed the "Tennessee Nightingale." Her films helped to popularize opera by bringing it to a larger audience.-Early life:...

, to sing Mimi in La bohème
La bohème
La bohème is an opera in four acts,Puccini called the divisions quadro, a tableau or "image", rather than atto . by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, based on Scènes de la vie de bohème by Henri Murger...

. The production was a box-office success, but an artistic failure. Beecham manoeuvred Toye out of the managing directorship in what their fellow conductor Sir Adrian Boult
Adrian Boult
Sir Adrian Cedric Boult CH was an English conductor. Brought up in a prosperous mercantile family he followed musical studies in England and at Leipzig, Germany, with early conducting work in London for the Royal Opera House and Sergei Diaghilev's ballet company. His first prominent post was...

 described as an "absolutely beastly" manner.

From 1935 to 1939, Beecham, now in sole control, presented international seasons with eminent guest singers and conductors. Beecham conducted between a third and half of the performances each season. He intended the 1940 season to include the first complete performances of Berlioz's Les Troyens
Les Troyens
Les Troyens is a French opera in five acts by Hector Berlioz. The libretto was written by Berlioz himself, based on Virgil's epic poem The Aeneid...

, but the outbreak of the Second World War caused the season to be abandoned. Beecham did not conduct again at Covent Garden until 1951, and by then it was no longer under his control.

Beecham took the London Philharmonic on a controversial tour of Germany in 1936. There were complaints that he was being used by Nazi propagandists, and Beecham complied with a Nazi request not to play the Scottish Symphony of Mendelssohn
Felix Mendelssohn
Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Barthóldy , use the form 'Mendelssohn' and not 'Mendelssohn Bartholdy'. The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians gives ' Felix Mendelssohn' as the entry, with 'Mendelssohn' used in the body text...

, who was a Christian by faith but a Jew by birth. In Berlin, Beecham's concert was attended by Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

, whose lack of punctuality caused Beecham to remark very audibly, "The old bugger's late." After this tour, Beecham refused renewed invitations to give concerts in Germany, although he honoured contractual commitments to conduct at the Berlin State Opera
Berlin State Opera
The Staatsoper Unter den Linden is a German opera company. Its permanent home is the opera house on the Unter den Linden boulevard in the Mitte district of Berlin, which also hosts the Staatskapelle Berlin orchestra.-Early years:...

, in 1937 and 1938, and recorded The Magic Flute for EMI
EMI Records
EMI Records is the flagship record label founded by the EMI company in 1972 and launched in January 1973 as the successor to its Columbia label. The EMI label was launched worldwide...

 in the Beethovensaal in Berlin in the same years.

As his sixtieth birthday approached, Beecham was advised by his doctors to take a year's complete break from music, and he planned to go abroad to rest in a warm climate. The Australian Broadcasting Commission
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, commonly referred to as "the ABC" , is Australia's national public broadcaster...

 had been seeking for several years to get him to conduct in Australia. The outbreak of war on 3 September 1939 obliged him to postpone his plans for several months, striving instead to secure the future of the London Philharmonic, whose financial guarantees had been withdrawn by its backers when war was declared. Before leaving, Beecham raised large sums of money for the orchestra and helped its members to form themselves into a self-governing company.

1940s

Beecham left Britain in the spring of 1940, going first to Australia and then to North America. He became music director of the Seattle Symphony
Seattle Symphony
The Seattle Symphony is an American orchestra based in Seattle, Washington. Since 1998, the orchestra is resident at Benaroya Hall. The orchestra's season runs from September through July, and serves as the pit orchestra for most productions of the Seattle Opera in addition to its own concerts...

 in 1941. In 1942 he joined the Metropolitan Opera
Metropolitan Opera
The Metropolitan Opera is an opera company, located in New York City. Originally founded in 1880, the company gave its first performance on October 22, 1883. The company is operated by the non-profit Metropolitan Opera Association, with Peter Gelb as general manager...

 as joint senior conductor with his former assistant Bruno Walter. He began with his own adaptation of Bach's
Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra, and solo instruments drew together the strands of the Baroque period and brought it to its ultimate maturity...

 comic cantata, Phoebus and Pan, followed by Le Coq d'Or
The Golden Cockerel
The Golden Cockerel is an opera in three acts, with short prologue and even shorter epilogue, by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Its libretto, by Vladimir Belsky, derives from Alexander Pushkin's 1834 poem The Tale of the Golden Cockerel, which in turn is based on two chapters of Tales of the Alhambra by...

. His main repertoire was French: Carmen, Louise (with Grace Moore), Manon, Faust
Faust (opera)
Faust is a drame lyrique in five acts by Charles Gounod to a French libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré from Carré's play Faust et Marguerite, in turn loosely based on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust, Part 1...

, Mignon
Mignon
Mignon is an opéra comique in three acts by Ambroise Thomas. The original French libretto was by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré, based on Goethe's novel Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre. The Italian version was translated by Giuseppe Zaffira. The opera is mentioned in James Joyce's The Dead,...

and The Tales of Hoffmann. In addition to his Seattle and New York posts, Beecham was guest conductor with 18 American orchestras.

In 1944, Beecham returned to Britain. Musically his reunion with the London Philharmonic was triumphant, but the orchestra, now (after his help in 1939) a self-governing co-operative
Cooperative
A cooperative is a business organization owned and operated by a group of individuals for their mutual benefit...

, attempted to hire him on its own terms as its salaried artistic director. "I emphatically refuse", concluded Beecham, "to be wagged by any orchestra ... I am going to found one more great orchestra to round off my career." When Walter Legge
Walter Legge
Harry Walter Legge was an influential English classical record producer, most notably for EMI. His recordings include many sets later regarded as classics and reissued by EMI as "Great Recordings of the Century". He worked in the recording industry from 1927, combining this with the post of junior...

 founded the Philharmonia Orchestra
Philharmonia Orchestra
The Philharmonia Orchestra is one of the leading orchestras in Great Britain, based in London. Since 1995, it has been based in the Royal Festival Hall. In Britain it is also the resident orchestra at De Montfort Hall, Leicester and the Corn Exchange, Bedford, as well as The Anvil, Basingstoke...

 in 1945, Beecham conducted its first concert. But he was not disposed to accept a salaried position from Legge, his former assistant, any more than from his former players in the LPO.

In 1946, Beecham founded the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is a British orchestra based in London. It tours widely, and is sometimes referred to as "Britain's national orchestra"...

 (RPO), securing an agreement with the Royal Philharmonic Society that the new orchestra should replace the LPO at all the Society's concerts. Beecham later agreed with the Glyndebourne Festival that the RPO should be the resident orchestra at Glyndebourne each summer. He secured backing, including that of record companies in the U.S. as well as Britain, with whom lucrative recording contracts were negotiated. As in 1909 and in 1932, Beecham's assistants recruited in the freelance pool and elsewhere. Original members of the RPO included James Bradshaw, Dennis Brain
Dennis Brain
Dennis Brain was a British virtuoso horn player and was largely credited for popularizing the horn as a solo classical instrument with the post-war British public...

, Leonard Brain, Archie Camden
Archie Camden
Archie Camden was a British bassoonist; he was a pedagogue and soloist of international acclaim. His career began in 1906 when he joined the Hallé Orchestra where he became principal bassoonist in 1914. In 1933 he moved to the BBC Symphony Orchestra, where he stayed until 1946 when he took up...

, Gerald Jackson and Reginald Kell. The orchestra later became celebrated for its regular team of woodwind principals, often referred to as "The Royal Family", consisting of Jack Brymer
Jack Brymer
John Alexander Brymer OBE , was a British clarinettist, born in South Shields.-Biography:The son of a builder, Jack Brymer started his working life as a teacher, being at Heath Clark School, Thornton Heath, Surrey in the late 1940s...

 (clarinet), Gwydion Brooke (bassoon), Terence McDonagh (oboe) and Gerald Jackson (flute).

Beecham's long association with the Hallé Orchestra as a guest conductor ceased after John Barbirolli
John Barbirolli
Sir John Barbirolli, CH was an English conductor and cellist. Born in London, of Italian and French parentage, he grew up in a family of professional musicians. His father and grandfather were violinists...

 became the orchestra's chief conductor in 1944. Beecham was, to his great indignation, ousted from the honorary presidency of the Hallé Concerts Society, and Barbirolli refused to "let that man near my orchestra". Beecham's relationship with the Liverpool Philharmonic, which he had first conducted in 1911, was resumed harmoniously after the war. A manager of the orchestra recalled, "It was an unwritten law in Liverpool that first choice of dates offered to guest conductors was given to Beecham. ... In Liverpool there was one over-riding factor – he was adored."

1950s and later years

Beecham, whom the BBC called "Britain's first international conductor", took the RPO on a strenuous tour through the United States, Canada and South Africa in 1950. During the North American tour, Beecham conducted 49 concerts in almost daily succession. In 1951, he was invited to conduct at Covent Garden after a 12-year absence. State-funded for the first time, the opera company operated quite differently from his pre-war regime. Instead of short, star-studded seasons, with a major symphony orchestra, the new director David Webster
David Webster (opera manager)
Sir David Webster was the chief executive of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, from 1945 to 1970. He played a key part in the establishment of the Royal Ballet and Royal Opera companies....

 was attempting to build up a permanent ensemble of home-grown talent performing all the year round, in English translations. Extreme economy in productions and great attention to the box-office were essential, and Beecham, though he had been hurt and furious at his exclusion, was not suited to participate in such an undertaking. When offered a chorus of eighty singers for his return, conducting Die Meistersinger
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg is an opera in three acts, written and composed by Richard Wagner. It is among the longest operas still commonly performed today, usually taking around four and a half hours. It was first performed at the Königliches Hof- und National-Theater in Munich, on June 21,...

, he insisted on augmenting their number to 200. He also, contrary to Webster's policy, insisted on performing the piece in German. In 1953 at Oxford
Oxford
The city of Oxford is the county town of Oxfordshire, England. The city, made prominent by its medieval university, has a population of just under 165,000, with 153,900 living within the district boundary. It lies about 50 miles north-west of London. The rivers Cherwell and Thames run through...

, Beecham presented the world premiere of Delius's first opera, Irmelin, and his last operatic performances in Britain were in 1955 at Bath, with Grétry's Zémire et Azor.

Between 1951 and 1960, Beecham conducted 92 concerts at the Royal Festival Hall
Royal Festival Hall
The Royal Festival Hall is a 2,900-seat concert, dance and talks venue within Southbank Centre in London. It is situated on the South Bank of the River Thames, not far from Hungerford Bridge. It is a Grade I listed building - the first post-war building to become so protected...

. Characteristic Beecham programmes of the RPO years included symphonies by Bizet, Franck
César Franck
César-Auguste-Jean-Guillaume-Hubert Franck was a composer, pianist, organist, and music teacher who worked in Paris during his adult life....

, Haydn
Joseph Haydn
Franz Joseph Haydn , known as Joseph Haydn , was an Austrian composer, one of the most prolific and prominent composers of the Classical period. He is often called the "Father of the Symphony" and "Father of the String Quartet" because of his important contributions to these forms...

, Schubert
Franz Schubert
Franz Peter Schubert was an Austrian composer.Although he died at an early age, Schubert was tremendously prolific. He wrote some 600 Lieder, nine symphonies , liturgical music, operas, some incidental music, and a large body of chamber and solo piano music...

 and Tchaikovsky
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Russian: Пётр Ильи́ч Чайко́вский ; often "Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky" in English. His names are also transliterated "Piotr" or "Petr"; "Ilitsch", "Il'ich" or "Illyich"; and "Tschaikowski", "Tschaikowsky", "Chajkovskij"...

; Richard Strauss's Ein Heldenleben; concertos by Mozart and Saint-Saëns
Camille Saint-Saëns
Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns was a French Late-Romantic composer, organist, conductor, and pianist. He is known especially for The Carnival of the Animals, Danse macabre, Samson and Delilah, Piano Concerto No. 2, Cello Concerto No. 1, Havanaise, Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, and his Symphony...

; a Delius and Sibelius
Jean Sibelius
Jean Sibelius was a Finnish composer of the later Romantic period whose music played an important role in the formation of the Finnish national identity. His mastery of the orchestra has been described as "prodigious."...

 programme; and many of his favoured shorter pieces. He did not stick uncompromisingly to his familiar repertoire. After the sudden death of the German conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler
Wilhelm Furtwängler
Wilhelm Furtwängler was a German conductor and composer. He is widely considered to have been one of the greatest symphonic and operatic conductors of the 20th century. By the 1930s he had built a reputation as one of the leading conductors in Europe, and he was the leading conductor who remained...

, Beecham in tribute conducted the two programmes his colleague had been due to present at the Festival Hall; these included Bach's Third Brandenburg Concerto
Brandenburg concertos
The Brandenburg concertos by Johann Sebastian Bach are a collection of six instrumental works presented by Bach to Christian Ludwig, margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt, in 1721 . They are widely regarded as among the finest musical compositions of the Baroque era...

, Ravel
Maurice Ravel
Joseph-Maurice Ravel was a French composer known especially for his melodies, orchestral and instrumental textures and effects...

's Rapsodie espagnole
Rapsodie espagnole
Rapsodie espagnole is an orchestral rhapsody written by Maurice Ravel. Composed between 1907 and 1908, the Rapsodie represents one of Ravel's first major works for orchestra....

, Brahms
Johannes Brahms
Johannes Brahms was a German composer and pianist, and one of the leading musicians of the Romantic period. Born in Hamburg, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna, Austria, where he was a leader of the musical scene...

's Symphony No. 1
Symphony No. 1 (Brahms)
The Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68, is a symphony written by Johannes Brahms. Brahms spent at least fourteen years completing this work, whose sketches date from 1854. Brahms himself declared that the symphony, from sketches to finishing touches, took 21 years, from 1855 to 1876...

, and Barber
Samuel Barber
Samuel Osborne Barber II was an American composer of orchestral, opera, choral, and piano music. His Adagio for Strings is his most popular composition and widely considered a masterpiece of modern classical music...

's Second Essay for Orchestra.

In the summer of 1958, Beecham conducted a season at the Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city of Argentina, and the second-largest metropolitan area in South America, after São Paulo. It is located on the western shore of the estuary of the Río de la Plata, on the southeastern coast of the South American continent...

, Argentina, consisting of Verdi's Otello
Otello
Otello is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Arrigo Boito, based on Shakespeare's play Othello. It was Verdi's penultimate opera, and was first performed at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan, on February 5, 1887....

,
Bizet's Carmen, Beethoven's Fidelio
Fidelio
Fidelio is a German opera in two acts by Ludwig van Beethoven. It is Beethoven's only opera. The German libretto is by Joseph Sonnleithner from the French of Jean-Nicolas Bouilly which had been used for the 1798 opera Léonore, ou L’amour conjugal by Pierre Gaveaux, and for the 1804 opera Leonora...

,
Saint-Saëns's Samson and Delilah
Samson and Delilah (opera)
Samson and Delilah , Op. 47, is a grand opera in three acts and four scenes by Camille Saint-Saëns to a French libretto by Ferdinand Lemaire...

and Mozart's The Magic Flute. These were his last operatic performances. His last illness prevented his operatic debut at Glyndebourne in a planned Magic Flute and a final appearance at Covent Garden conducting Berlioz's The Trojans.

Sixty-six years after his first visit to America, Beecham made his last, beginning in late 1959, conducting in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago and Washington. During this tour, he also conducted in Canada. He flew back to London on 12 April 1960 and did not leave England again. His final concert was at Portsmouth
Portsmouth
Portsmouth is the second largest city in the ceremonial county of Hampshire on the south coast of England. Portsmouth is notable for being the United Kingdom's only island city; it is located mainly on Portsea Island...

 on 7 May 1960. The programme, all characteristic choices, comprised the Magic Flute Overture, Haydn's Symphony No. 100
Symphony No. 100 (Haydn)
The Symphony No. 100 in G major, Hoboken I/100, is the eighth of the twelve so-called London Symphonies written by Joseph Haydn and completed in 1793 or 1794. It is popularly known as the Military Symphony.-Nickname :...

 (the Military), Beecham's own Handel arrangement, Love in Bath, Schubert's Symphony No. 5
Symphony No. 5 (Schubert)
The Symphony No. 5 in B flat major, D.485, written in 1816 by Franz Schubert is a work in four movements:#Allegro in B, in divided cut time.#Andante con moto in E, in 6:8 time.#Menuetto...

, On the River by Delius, and the Bacchanale from Samson and Delilah.

Beecham died of a coronary thrombosis
Coronary thrombosis
Coronary thrombosis is a form of thrombosis affecting the coronary circulation. It is associated with stenosis subsequent to clotting. The condition is considered as a type of ischaemic heart disease.It can lead to a myocardial infarction...

 at his London flat, aged 81, on 8 March 1961. He was buried two days later in Brookwood Cemetery
Brookwood Cemetery
Brookwood Cemetery is a burial ground in Brookwood, Surrey, England. It is the largest cemetery in the United Kingdom and one of the largest in western Europe.-History:...

, Surrey. Owing to changes at Brookwood, his remains were exhumed in 1991 and reburied in St Peter's Churchyard at Limpsfield
Limpsfield
Limpsfield is a village and parish in the east of the county of Surrey, England near Oxted at the foot of the North Downs. It lies between the A25 to the south and the M25 motorway to the north, near the Clackett Lane service station...

, Surrey, close to the grave of Delius.

Personal life

Beecham was married three times. In 1903 he married Utica Celestina Welles, daughter of Dr Charles S. Welles, of New York, and his wife Ella Celeste, née Miles. Beecham and his wife had two sons: Adrian, born in 1904, who became a composer and achieved some celebrity in the 1920s and 1930s, and Thomas, born in 1909. After the birth of his second child, Beecham began to drift away from the marriage. By 1911, no longer living with his wife and family, he was involved as co-respondent in a much-publicised divorce case. Utica ignored advice that she should divorce him and secure substantial alimony; she did not believe in divorce. She never remarried after Beecham divorced her (in 1943), and she outlived her former husband by sixteen years, dying in 1977.

In 1909 or early 1910, Beecham began an affair with Maud Alice (known as Emerald), Lady Cunard
Maud Cunard
Maud Alice Burke , later Lady Cunard, known as Emerald, was an American-born, London-based society hostess. She had long relationships with the novelist George Moore and the conductor Thomas Beecham, and was the muse of the former and a champion of and fund-raiser for the latter...

. Although they never lived together, it continued, despite other relationships on his part, until his remarriage in 1943. She was a tireless fund-raiser for his musical enterprises. Beecham's biographers are agreed that she was in love with him, but that his feelings for her were less strong. During the 1920s and 1930s, Beecham also had an affair with Dora Labbette
Dora Labbette
Dora Labbette was an English soprano. Her career spanned the concert hall and the opera house. She conspired with Sir Thomas Beecham to appear at the Royal Opera House masquerading as an Italian singer by the name of Lisa Perli...

, a soprano sometimes known as Lisa Perli, with whom he had a son, Paul Strang, born in March 1933.

In 1943 Lady Cunard was devastated to learn (not from Beecham) that he intended to divorce Utica to marry Betty Humby
Betty Humby Beecham
Betty Humby Beecham, Lady Beecham was a British pianist, who married the English conductor and impresario Sir Thomas Beecham in February 1943. She was 29 years his junior....

, a concert pianist 29 years his junior. Beecham married Betty in 1943, and they were a devoted couple until her death in 1958. In 1959, two years before his death, he married his former secretary, Shirley Hudson, who had worked for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra's administration since 1950.

Handel, Haydn, and Mozart

The earliest composer whose music Beecham regularly performed was Handel
George Frideric Handel
George Frideric Handel was a German-British Baroque composer, famous for his operas, oratorios, anthems and organ concertos. Handel was born in 1685, in a family indifferent to music...

, whom he called, "the great international master of all time. ... He wrote Italian music better than any Italian; French music better than any Frenchman; English music better than any Englishman; and, with the exception of Bach, outrivalled all other Germans." In his performances of Handel, Beecham ignored what he called the "professors, pedants, pedagogues". He followed Mendelssohn and Mozart in editing and reorchestrating Handel's scores to suit contemporary tastes. At a time when Handel's operas were scarcely known, Beecham knew them so well that he was able to arrange three ballets, two other suites and a piano concerto from them. He gave Handel's oratorio Solomon
Solomon (Handel)
Solomon, HWV 67, is an oratorio by George Frideric Handel. Its libretto is based on the biblical stories of wise king Solomon and is attributed to Newburgh Hamilton...

its first performance since the 18th century, with a text edited by the conductor.

With Haydn
Joseph Haydn
Franz Joseph Haydn , known as Joseph Haydn , was an Austrian composer, one of the most prolific and prominent composers of the Classical period. He is often called the "Father of the Symphony" and "Father of the String Quartet" because of his important contributions to these forms...

, too, Beecham was far from an authenticist, using unscholarly 19th-century versions of the scores, avoiding the use of the harpsichord
Harpsichord
A harpsichord is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It produces sound by plucking a string when a key is pressed.In the narrow sense, "harpsichord" designates only the large wing-shaped instruments in which the strings are perpendicular to the keyboard...

, and phrasing the music romantically. He recorded the twelve "London
London symphonies
The London symphonies, sometimes called the Salomon symphonies after the man who introduced London to Joseph Haydn, were composed by Joseph Haydn between 1791 and 1795...

" symphonies, and regularly programmed some of them in his concerts. Earlier Haydn works were unfamiliar in the first half of the 20th century, but Beecham conducted several of them, including the Symphony No. 40
Symphony No. 40 (Haydn)
The Symphony No. 40 in F major, Hoboken I/40, is a symphony by Joseph Haydn. Despite its number, Haydn had composed this symphony by 1763, long before the other symphonies numbered in the 30s and 40s in Hoboken's catalog Chronologically, the symphony belongs with no...

 and an early piano concerto. He programmed The Seasons
The Seasons (Haydn)
The Seasons is an oratorio by Joseph Haydn .-Composition, premiere, and reception:Haydn was led to write The Seasons by the great success of his previous oratorio The Creation , which had become very popular and was in the course of being performed all over Europe...

regularly throughout his career, recording it for EMI
EMI
The EMI Group, also known as EMI Music or simply EMI, is a multinational music company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the fourth-largest business group and family of record labels in the recording industry and one of the "big four" record companies. EMI Group also has a major...

 in 1956, and in 1944 added The Creation to his repertoire.

For Beecham, Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , baptismal name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart , was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. He composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music...

 was "the central point of European music," and he treated the composer's scores with more deference than he gave most others. He edited the incomplete Requiem
Requiem (Mozart)
The Requiem Mass in D minor by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was composed in Vienna in 1791 and left unfinished at the composer's death. A completion by Franz Xaver Süssmayr was delivered to Count Franz von Walsegg, who had anonymously commissioned the piece for a requiem Mass to commemorate the...

, made English translations of at least two of the great operas, and introduced Covent Garden audiences who had rarely if ever heard them to Così fan tutte
Così fan tutte
Così fan tutte, ossia La scuola degli amanti K. 588, is an opera buffa by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart first performed in 1790. The libretto was written by Lorenzo Da Ponte....

, Der Schauspieldirektor
Der Schauspieldirektor
Der Schauspieldirektor , K. 486, is a comic Singspiel written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to a German libretto by Gottlieb Stephanie, an Austrian Schauspieldirektor....

and Die Entführung aus dem Serail
Die Entführung aus dem Serail
Die Entführung aus dem Serail is an opera Singspiel in three acts by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The German libretto is by Christoph Friedrich Bretzner with adaptations by Gottlieb Stephanie...

; he also regularly programmed The Magic Flute
The Magic Flute
The Magic Flute is an opera in two acts composed in 1791 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to a German libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder. The work is in the form of a Singspiel, a popular form that included both singing and spoken dialogue....

, Don Giovanni
Don Giovanni
Don Giovanni is an opera in two acts with music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and with an Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte. It was premiered by the Prague Italian opera at the Teatro di Praga on October 29, 1787...

and The Marriage of Figaro
The Marriage of Figaro
Le nozze di Figaro, ossia la folle giornata , K. 492, is an opera buffa composed in 1786 in four acts by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, with Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte, based on a stage comedy by Pierre Beaumarchais, La folle journée, ou le Mariage de Figaro .Although the play by...

. He considered the best of Mozart's piano concertos to be "the most beautiful compositions of their kind in the world", and he played them many times with Betty Humby-Beecham and others.

German music

Beecham's attitude towards 19th-century German repertoire was equivocal. He frequently disparaged Beethoven, Wagner and others, but regularly conducted their works, often with great success. He observed, "Wagner, though a tremendous genius, gorged music like a German who overeats. And Bruckner
Anton Bruckner
Anton Bruckner was an Austrian composer known for his symphonies, masses, and motets. The first are considered emblematic of the final stage of Austro-German Romanticism because of their rich harmonic language, complex polyphony, and considerable length...

 was a hobbledehoy who had no style at all ... Even Beethoven thumped the tub; the Ninth symphony
Symphony No. 9 (Beethoven)
The Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125, is the final complete symphony of Ludwig van Beethoven. Completed in 1824, the symphony is one of the best known works of the Western classical repertoire, and has been adapted for use as the European Anthem...

 was composed by a kind of Mr. Gladstone
William Ewart Gladstone
William Ewart Gladstone FRS FSS was a British Liberal statesman. In a career lasting over sixty years, he served as Prime Minister four separate times , more than any other person. Gladstone was also Britain's oldest Prime Minister, 84 years old when he resigned for the last time...

 of music." Despite his criticisms, Beecham conducted all the Beethoven symphonies during his career, and he made studio recordings of Nos. 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8, and live recordings of No. 9 and Missa Solemnis
Missa Solemnis (Beethoven)
The Missa solemnis in D Major, Op. 123 was composed by Ludwig van Beethoven from 1819-1823. It was first performed on April 7, 1824 in St. Petersburg, under the auspices of Beethoven's patron Prince Nikolai Galitzin; an incomplete performance was given in Vienna on 7 May 1824, when the Kyrie,...

. He conducted the Fourth Piano Concerto
Piano Concerto No. 4 (Beethoven)
Ludwig van Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58, was composed in 1805–1806, although no autograph copy survives.-Musical forces and movements:...

 with pleasure (recording it with Arthur Rubinstein
Arthur Rubinstein
Arthur Rubinstein KBE was a Polish-American pianist. He received international acclaim for his performances of the music of a variety of composers...

 and the LPO) but avoided the Emperor Concerto
Piano Concerto No. 5 (Beethoven)
The Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 73, by Ludwig van Beethoven, popularly known as the Emperor Concerto, was his last piano concerto. It was written between 1809 and 1811 in Vienna, and was dedicated to Archduke Rudolf, Beethoven's patron and pupil...

when possible.

Beecham was not known for his Bach but nonetheless chose Bach (arranged by Beecham) for his debut at the Metropolitan Opera. He later gave the Third Brandenburg Concerto
Brandenburg concertos
The Brandenburg concertos by Johann Sebastian Bach are a collection of six instrumental works presented by Bach to Christian Ludwig, margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt, in 1721 . They are widely regarded as among the finest musical compositions of the Baroque era...

 in one of his memorial concerts for Wilhelm Furtwängler
Wilhelm Furtwängler
Wilhelm Furtwängler was a German conductor and composer. He is widely considered to have been one of the greatest symphonic and operatic conductors of the 20th century. By the 1930s he had built a reputation as one of the leading conductors in Europe, and he was the leading conductor who remained...

 (a performance described by The Times as "a travesty, albeit an invigorating one"). In Brahms's
Johannes Brahms
Johannes Brahms was a German composer and pianist, and one of the leading musicians of the Romantic period. Born in Hamburg, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna, Austria, where he was a leader of the musical scene...

 music, Beecham was selective. He made a speciality of the Second Symphony
Symphony No. 2 (Brahms)
The Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73, was composed by Johannes Brahms in the summer of 1877 during a visit to Pörtschach am Wörthersee, a town in the Austrian province of Carinthia. Its composition was brief in comparison with the fifteen years it took Brahms to complete his First Symphony...

 but conducted the Third
Symphony No. 3 (Brahms)
The Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 90, is a symphony written by Johannes Brahms. The work was written in the summer of 1883 at Wiesbaden, nearly six years after he completed his Second Symphony...

 only occasionally, the First
Symphony No. 1 (Brahms)
The Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68, is a symphony written by Johannes Brahms. Brahms spent at least fourteen years completing this work, whose sketches date from 1854. Brahms himself declared that the symphony, from sketches to finishing touches, took 21 years, from 1855 to 1876...

 rarely, and the Fourth
Symphony No. 4 (Brahms)
The Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98 by Johannes Brahms is the last of his symphonies. Brahms began working on the piece in 1884, just a year after completing his Symphony No...

 never. In his memoirs he made no mention of any Brahms performance after the year 1909.

Beecham was a great Wagnerian
Richard Wagner
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...

, despite his frequent expostulation about the composer's length and repetitiousness: "We've been rehearsing for two hours – and we're still playing the same bloody tune!" Beecham conducted all the works in the regular Wagner canon with the exception of Parsifal
Parsifal
Parsifal is an opera in three acts by Richard Wagner. It is loosely based on Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival, the 13th century epic poem of the Arthurian knight Parzival and his quest for the Holy Grail, and on Chrétien de Troyes' Perceval, the Story of the Grail.Wagner first conceived the work...

, which he presented at Covent Garden but never with himself in the pit. The chief music critic of The Times observed: "Beecham's Lohengrin
Lohengrin (opera)
Lohengrin is a romantic opera in three acts composed and written by Richard Wagner, first performed in 1850. The story of the eponymous character is taken from medieval German romance, notably the Parzival of Wolfram von Eschenbach and its sequel, Lohengrin, written by a different author, itself...

was almost Italian in its lyricism; his Ring
Der Ring des Nibelungen
Der Ring des Nibelungen is a cycle of four epic operas by the German composer Richard Wagner . The works are based loosely on characters from the Norse sagas and the Nibelungenlied...

was less heroic than Bruno Walter's or Furtwängler's, but it sang from beginning to end".

Richard Strauss
Richard Strauss
Richard Georg Strauss was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, which include Der Rosenkavalier and Salome; his Lieder, especially his Four Last Songs; and his tone poems and orchestral works, such as Death and Transfiguration, Till...

 had a lifelong champion in Beecham, who introduced Elektra, Salome, Der Rosenkavalier and other operas to England. Beecham programmed Ein Heldenleben from 1910 until his last year; his final recording of it was released shortly after his death. Don Quixote
Don Quixote (Strauss)
Don Quixote, Op. 35, is a composition by Richard Strauss for cello, viola and large orchestra. Subtitled Phantastische Variationen über ein Thema ritterlichen Charakters , the work is based on the novel Don Quixote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes. Strauss composed this work in Munich in 1897...

, Till Eulenspiegel
, the Bourgeois Gentilhomme music and Don Juan
Don Juan (Strauss)
Don Juan, Op. 20 is a tone poem for large orchestra by the German composer Richard Strauss, written in 1888. The composer conducted its premiere on 11 November 1889 with the orchestra of the Weimar Opera, where he served as Court Kapellmeister....

also featured in his repertory, but not Also Sprach Zarathustra
Also sprach Zarathustra (Richard Strauss)
Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30 is a tone poem by Richard Strauss, composed in 1896 and inspired by Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophical treatise of the same name. The composer conducted its first performance on 27 November 1896 in Frankfurt...

or Tod und Verklärung. Strauss had the first and last pages of the manuscript of Elektra framed and presented them to "my highly honoured friend ... and distinguished conductor of my work."

French and Italian music

In the opinion of the jury of the Académie du Disque Français, "Sir Thomas Beecham has done more for French music abroad than any French conductor". Berlioz
Hector Berlioz
Hector Berlioz was a French Romantic composer, best known for his compositions Symphonie fantastique and Grande messe des morts . Berlioz made significant contributions to the modern orchestra with his Treatise on Instrumentation. He specified huge orchestral forces for some of his works; as a...

 featured prominently in Beecham's repertoire throughout his career, and in an age when the composer's works received little exposure, Beecham presented most of them and recorded many. Along with Sir Colin Davis
Colin Davis
Sir Colin Rex Davis, CH, CBE is an English conductor. His repertoire is broad, but among the composers with whom he is particularly associated are Mozart, Berlioz, Elgar, Sibelius, Stravinsky and Tippett....

, Beecham has been described as one of the two "foremost modern interpreters" of Berlioz's music. Both in concert and the recording studio, Beecham's choices of French music were characteristically eclectic. He avoided Ravel but regularly programmed Debussy. Fauré
Gabriel Fauré
Gabriel Urbain Fauré was a French composer, organist, pianist and teacher. He was one of the foremost French composers of his generation, and his musical style influenced many 20th century composers...

 did not feature often, although his orchestral Pavane
Pavane (Fauré)
The Pavane in F-sharp minor, Op. 50, is a composition by the French composer Gabriel Fauré, written in 1887. It was originally a piano piece, but is better known in Fauré's version for orchestra and optional chorus...

was an exception; Beecham's final recording sessions in 1959 included the Pavane and the Dolly Suite
Dolly (Fauré)
The Dolly Suite, Op. 56, is a collection of pieces for piano four-hands by Gabriel Fauré. It consists of short pieces written or revised between 1893 and 1896, to mark the birthdays and other events in the life of the daughter of the composer's mistress....

. Bizet was among Beecham's favourites, and other French composers favoured by him included Gustave Charpentier
Gustave Charpentier
Gustave Charpentier, , born in Dieuze, Moselle on 25 June 1860, died Paris, 18 February 1956) was a French composer, best known for his opera Louise.-Life and career:...

, Delibes
Léo Delibes
Clément Philibert Léo Delibes was a French composer of ballets, operas, and other works for the stage...

, Duparc, Grétry, Lalo, Lully
Jean-Baptiste Lully
Jean-Baptiste de Lully was an Italian-born French composer who spent most of his life working in the court of Louis XIV of France. He is considered the chief master of the French Baroque style. Lully disavowed any Italian influence in French music of the period. He became a French subject in...

, Offenbach, Saint-Saëns and Ambroise Thomas
Ambroise Thomas
Charles Louis Ambroise Thomas was a French composer, best known for his operas Mignon and Hamlet and as Director of the Conservatoire de Paris from 1871 till his death.-Biography:"There is good music, there is bad music, and then there is Ambroise Thomas."- Emmanuel Chabrier-Early life...

. Many of Beecham's later recordings of French music were made in Paris with the Orchestre National de la Radiodiffusion Française
Orchestre National de France
The Orchestre national de France is a symphony orchestra run by Radio France. It has also been known as the Orchestre national de la Radiodiffusion française and Orchestre national de l'Office de Radiodiffusion Télévision Française .Since 1944, the orchestra has been based in the Théâtre...

. "C'est un dieu", their concertmaster said of Beecham in 1957.

Of the more than two dozen operas in the Verdi canon, Beecham conducted eight during his long career: Il trovatore
Il trovatore
Il trovatore is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Salvadore Cammarano, based on the play El Trovador by Antonio García Gutiérrez. Cammarano died in mid-1852 before completing the libretto...

, La traviata
La traviata
La traviata is an opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi set to an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave. It is based on La dame aux Camélias , a play adapted from the novel by Alexandre Dumas, fils. The title La traviata means literally The Fallen Woman, or perhaps more figuratively, The Woman...

, Aida
Aida
Aida sometimes spelled Aïda, is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni, based on a scenario written by French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette...

, Don Carlos
Don Carlos
Don Carlos is a five-act grand opera composed by Giuseppe Verdi to a French language libretto by Camille du Locle and Joseph Méry, based on the dramatic play Don Carlos, Infant von Spanien by Friedrich Schiller...

, Rigoletto
Rigoletto
Rigoletto is an opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi. The Italian libretto was written by Francesco Maria Piave based on the play Le roi s'amuse by Victor Hugo. It was first performed at La Fenice in Venice on March 11, 1851...

, Un ballo in maschera
Un ballo in maschera
Un ballo in maschera , is an opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi with text by Antonio Somma. The libretto is loosely based on an 1833 play, Gustave III, by French playwright Eugène Scribe who wrote about the historical assassination of King Gustav III of Sweden...

, Otello
Otello
Otello is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Arrigo Boito, based on Shakespeare's play Othello. It was Verdi's penultimate opera, and was first performed at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan, on February 5, 1887....

and Falstaff
Falstaff (opera)
Falstaff is an operatic commedia lirica in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi, adapted by Arrigo Boito from Shakespeare's plays The Merry Wives of Windsor and scenes from Henry IV. It was Verdi's last opera, written in the composer's ninth decade, and only the second of his 26 operas to be a comedy...

. As early as 1904, Beecham met Puccini
Giacomo Puccini
Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini was an Italian composer whose operas, including La bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, and Turandot, are among the most frequently performed in the standard repertoire...

 through the librettist Luigi Illica
Luigi Illica
Luigi Illica was an Italian librettist who wrote for Giacomo Puccini , Alfredo Catalani, Umberto Giordano, Baron Alberto Franchetti and other important Italian composers. His most famous opera librettos are those for La bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly and Andrea Chénier.Illica was born at...

, who had written the libretto for Beecham's youthful attempt at composing an Italian opera. At the time of their meeting, Puccini and Illica were revising Madama Butterfly
Madama Butterfly
Madama Butterfly is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini, with an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. Puccini based his opera in part on the short story "Madame Butterfly" by John Luther Long, which was dramatized by David Belasco...

after its disastrous première. Beecham rarely conducted that work, but he conducted Tosca
Tosca
Tosca is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. It premiered at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome on 14 January 1900...

, Turandot
Turandot
Turandot is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini, set to a libretto in Italian by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni.Though Puccini's first interest in the subject was based on his reading of Friedrich Schiller's adaptation of the play, his work is most nearly based on the earlier text Turandot...

and La bohème
La bohème
La bohème is an opera in four acts,Puccini called the divisions quadro, a tableau or "image", rather than atto . by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, based on Scènes de la vie de bohème by Henri Murger...

. His 1956 recording of La bohème, with Victoria de los Ángeles
Victoria de los Ángeles
Victoria de los Ángeles was a Spanish Catalan operatic soprano and recitalist whose career began in the early 1940s and reached its height in the years from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s. Her obituary in The Times noted that she must be counted “among the finest singers of the second half...

 and Jussi Björling
Jussi Björling
Johan Jonatan "Jussi" Björling was a Swedish tenor. One of the leading operatic singers of the 20th Century, Björling appeared frequently at the Royal Opera House in London, La Scala in Milan, and the Metropolitan Opera in New York City as well as at other major European opera...

, has seldom been out of the catalogues since its release and received more votes than any other operatic set in a 1967 symposium of prominent critics.

Delius, Sibelius and "Lollipops"

Except for Delius
Frederick Delius
Frederick Theodore Albert Delius, CH was an English composer. Born in the north of England to a prosperous mercantile family of German extraction, he resisted attempts to recruit him to commerce...

, Beecham was generally antipathetic to, or at best lukewarm about, the music of his native land and its most acclaimed composers. Beecham's championship of Delius promoted the composer from relative obscurity. Delius's amanuensis, Eric Fenby
Eric Fenby
Eric William Fenby OBE was an English composer and teacher who is best known for being Frederick Delius's amanuensis from 1928 to 1934. He helped Delius realise a number of works that would not otherwise have been forthcoming....

, referred to Beecham as "excelling all others in the music of Delius ... Groves
Charles Groves
Sir Charles Barnard Groves CBE was an English conductor. He was known for the breadth of his repertoire and for encouraging contemporary composers and young conductors....

 and Sargent may have matched him in the great choruses of A Mass of Life, but in all else Beecham was matchless, especially with the orchestra." Beecham put on Delius Festivals in 1929 and 1946 and presented his concert works throughout his career. He conducted the British premieres of the operas A Village Romeo and Juliet
A Village Romeo and Juliet
A Village Romeo and Juliet is an opera by Frederick Delius, the fourth of his six operas. The composer himself, with his wife Jelka, wrote the English-language libretto based on the short story Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe by the Swiss author Gottfried Keller. The first performance was at the...

in 1910 and Koanga
Koanga
Koanga is an opera with music by Frederick Delius, his third opera, written between 1896 and 1897, and a libretto by Charles F. Keary, inspired partly by The Grandissimes of George Washington Cable. Inspiration also came from Delius' own experiences as a young man when his family sent him to work...

in 1935, and the world premiere of Irmelin in 1953.

Another major 20th-century composer who engaged Beecham's sympathies was Sibelius
Jean Sibelius
Jean Sibelius was a Finnish composer of the later Romantic period whose music played an important role in the formation of the Finnish national identity. His mastery of the orchestra has been described as "prodigious."...

, who recognised him as a fine conductor of his music (although Sibelius tended to be lavish with praise of anybody who conducted his music). In a live recording of a December 1954 concert performance of Sibelius's Second Symphony
Symphony No. 2 (Sibelius)
Jean Sibelius's Symphony No. 2 in D major, Opus 43 was started in Winter 1900 in Rapallo, Italy, and finished in 1902 in Finland. It was first performed by the Helsinki Philharmonic Society on 8 March 1902, with the composer conducting...

 with the BBC Symphony Orchestra
BBC Symphony Orchestra
The BBC Symphony Orchestra is the principal broadcast orchestra of the British Broadcasting Corporation and one of the leading orchestras in Britain.-History:...

 in the Royal Festival Hall
Royal Festival Hall
The Royal Festival Hall is a 2,900-seat concert, dance and talks venue within Southbank Centre in London. It is situated on the South Bank of the River Thames, not far from Hungerford Bridge. It is a Grade I listed building - the first post-war building to become so protected...

, Beecham can be heard uttering encouraging shouts at the orchestra at climactic moments.

Beecham was dismissive of some of the established classics, saying for example, "I would give the whole of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos
Brandenburg concertos
The Brandenburg concertos by Johann Sebastian Bach are a collection of six instrumental works presented by Bach to Christian Ludwig, margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt, in 1721 . They are widely regarded as among the finest musical compositions of the Baroque era...

for Massenet
Jules Massenet
Jules Émile Frédéric Massenet was a French composer best known for his operas. His compositions were very popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and he ranks as one of the greatest melodists of his era. Soon after his death, Massenet's style went out of fashion, and many of his operas...

's Manon
Manon
Manon is an opéra comique in five acts by Jules Massenet to a French libretto by Henri Meilhac and Philippe Gille, based on the 1731 novel L’histoire du chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut by the Abbé Prévost...

, and would think I had vastly profited by the exchange". He was, by contrast, famous for presenting slight pieces as encores, which he called "lollipops". Some of the best-known were Berlioz's Danse des sylphes; Chabrier
Emmanuel Chabrier
Emmanuel Chabrier was a French Romantic composer and pianist. Although known primarily for two of his orchestral works, España and Joyeuse marche, he left an important corpus of operas , songs, and piano music as well...

's Joyeuse Marche and Gounod
Charles Gounod
Charles-François Gounod was a French composer, known for his Ave Maria as well as his operas Faust and Roméo et Juliette.-Biography:...

's Le Sommeil de Juliette.

Recordings

The composer Richard Arnell
Richard Arnell
Richard Anthony Sayer Arnell was an English composer of classical music. Arnell composed in all the established genres for the concert stage, and his list of works includes six completed symphonies and six string quartets.-Biography:Arnell was born in Hampstead, London...

 wrote that Beecham preferred making records to giving concerts: "He told me that audiences got in the way of music-making – he was apt to catch someone's eye in the front row." The conductor and critic Trevor Harvey wrote in The Gramophone, however, that studio recordings could never recapture the thrill of Beecham performing live in the concert hall.
Beecham began making recordings in 1910, when the acoustical process obliged orchestras to use only principal instruments, placed as close to the recording horn as possible. His first recordings, for His Master's Voice (HMV
HMV
His Master's Voice is a trademark in the music business, and for many years was the name of a large record label. The name was coined in 1899 as the title of a painting of the dog Nipper listening to a wind-up gramophone...

), were of excerpts from Offenbach
Jacques Offenbach
Jacques Offenbach was a Prussian-born French composer, cellist and impresario. He is remembered for his nearly 100 operettas of the 1850s–1870s and his uncompleted opera The Tales of Hoffmann. He was a powerful influence on later composers of the operetta genre, particularly Johann Strauss, Jr....

's The Tales of Hoffmann and Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss II
Johann Strauss II , also known as Johann Baptist Strauss or Johann Strauss, Jr., the Younger, or the Son , was an Austrian composer of light music, particularly dance music and operettas. He composed over 500 waltzes, polkas, quadrilles, and other types of dance music, as well as several operettas...

's Die Fledermaus
Die Fledermaus
Die Fledermaus is an operetta composed by Johann Strauss II to a German libretto by Karl Haffner and Richard Genée.- Literary sources :...

. In 1915, Beecham began recording for the Columbia Graphophone Company
Columbia Graphophone Company
The Columbia Graphophone Company was one of the earliest gramophone companies in the United Kingdom. Under EMI, as Columbia Records, it became a very successful label in the 1950s and 1960s...

. Electrical recording technology (introduced in 1925–26) made it possible to record a full orchestra with much greater frequency range, and Beecham quickly embraced the new medium. Longer scores had to be broken into four-minute segments to fit on 12-inch 78-rpm discs, but Beecham was not averse to recording piecemeal – his well-known 1932 disc of Chabrier's España was recorded in two sessions three weeks apart. Beecham recorded many of his favourite works several times, taking advantage of improved technology over the decades.

From 1926 to 1932, Beecham made more than 70 discs, including an English version of Gounod
Charles Gounod
Charles-François Gounod was a French composer, known for his Ave Maria as well as his operas Faust and Roméo et Juliette.-Biography:...

's Faust
Faust (opera)
Faust is a drame lyrique in five acts by Charles Gounod to a French libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré from Carré's play Faust et Marguerite, in turn loosely based on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust, Part 1...

and the first of three recordings of Handel
George Frideric Handel
George Frideric Handel was a German-British Baroque composer, famous for his operas, oratorios, anthems and organ concertos. Handel was born in 1685, in a family indifferent to music...

's Messiah
Messiah (Handel)
Messiah is an English-language oratorio composed in 1741 by George Frideric Handel, with a scriptural text compiled by Charles Jennens from the King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer. It was first performed in Dublin on 13 April 1742, and received its London premiere nearly a year later...

. He began recording with the London Philharmonic Orchestra in 1933, making more than 150 discs for Columbia, including music by Mozart, Rossini, Berlioz, Wagner, Handel, Beethoven, Brahms, Debussy and Delius. Among the most prominent of these was the first complete recording of Mozart's The Magic Flute
The Magic Flute
The Magic Flute is an opera in two acts composed in 1791 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to a German libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder. The work is in the form of a Singspiel, a popular form that included both singing and spoken dialogue....

, supervised by Walter Legge
Walter Legge
Harry Walter Legge was an influential English classical record producer, most notably for EMI. His recordings include many sets later regarded as classics and reissued by EMI as "Great Recordings of the Century". He worked in the recording industry from 1927, combining this with the post of junior...

 in Berlin in 1937–38, a set described by Alan Blyth
Alan Blyth
Geoffrey Alan Blyth was an English music critic, author, and musicologist who was particularly known for his writings within the field of opera. He graduated from the Rugby School before attending the University of Oxford where he studied with Jack Westrup...

 in Gramophone magazine in 2006 as having "a legendary status". In 1936, during his German tour with the LPO, Beecham conducted the world's first orchestral recording on magnetic tape, made at Ludwigshafen, the home of BASF
BASF
BASF SE is the largest chemical company in the world and is headquartered in Germany. BASF originally stood for Badische Anilin- und Soda-Fabrik . Today, the four letters are a registered trademark and the company is listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, London Stock Exchange, and Zurich Stock...

, the company that developed the process.

During his stay in the U.S. and afterwards, Beecham recorded for American Columbia
Columbia Records
Columbia Records is an American record label, owned by Japan's Sony Music Entertainment, operating under the Columbia Music Group with Aware Records. It was founded in 1888, evolving from an earlier enterprise, the American Graphophone Company — successor to the Volta Graphophone Company...

 Records and RCA Victor. His RCA recordings include major works that he did not subsequently re-record for the gramophone, including Beethoven's Fourth
Symphony No. 4 (Beethoven)
Symphony No. 4 in B Flat Major , is a symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven, written in the summer of 1806. It was premiered in March of 1807 at a private concert of the home of Prince Franz Joseph von Lobkowitz...

, Sibelius's Sixth
Symphony No. 6 (Sibelius)
Jean Sibelius's Symphony No. 6 in D minor, Op. 104, was completed in 1923. Although the symphony is usually described as being "in D minor" the score does not contain a key attribution. Much of the symphony is in fact in the Dorian mode....

 and Mendelssohn's Reformation
Symphony No. 5 (Mendelssohn)
The Symphony No. 5 in D major/D minor, Op. 107, called the Reformation Symphony, was composed by Felix Mendelssohn in 1830 in honor of the 300th anniversary of the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession. This Confession was a key document of Lutheranism and its Presentation to Emperor Charles V in...

 Symphonies. Some of his RCA recordings were issued only in the U.S., including Mozart's Symphony No. 27
Symphony No. 27 (Mozart)
Symphony No. 27 in G major, K. 199/161b, is a symphony composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in April, 1773. The symphony has the scoring of two flutes, two horns, and strings.He wrote the symphony in three movements:#Allegro, 3/4#Andantino grazioso, 2/4...

, K199, the overtures to Smetana's The Bartered Bride and Mozart's La clemenza di Tito
La clemenza di Tito
La clemenza di Tito , K. 621, is an opera seria in two acts composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to an Italian libretto by Caterino Mazzolà, after Metastasio...

, the Sinfonia from Bach's Christmas Oratorio
Christmas Oratorio
The Christmas Oratorio BWV 248, is an oratorio by Johann Sebastian Bach intended for performance in church during the Christmas season. It was written for the Christmas season of 1734 incorporating music from earlier compositions, including three secular cantatas written during 1733 and 1734 and a...

, a 1947–48 complete recording of Gounod's Faust, and an RPO studio version of Sibelius's Symphony No. 2
Symphony No. 2 (Sibelius)
Jean Sibelius's Symphony No. 2 in D major, Opus 43 was started in Winter 1900 in Rapallo, Italy, and finished in 1902 in Finland. It was first performed by the Helsinki Philharmonic Society on 8 March 1902, with the composer conducting...

. Beecham's RCA records that were released on both sides of the Atlantic were his celebrated 1956 complete recording of Puccini's La bohème and an extravagantly rescored set of Handel's Messiah. The former remains a top recommendation among reviewers, and the latter was described by Gramophone as "an irresistible outrage … huge fun".

For the Columbia label, Beecham recorded his last, or only, versions of many works by Delius, including A Mass of Life, Appalachia, North Country Sketches, An Arabesque, Paris and Eventyr
Eventyr (Once Upon a Time)
Eventyr or Once Upon a Time is a tone poem for orchestra composed by Frederick Delius in 1917. It was given its premiere in London on 11 January 1919, under the direction of Henry J. Wood. "Eventyr" means "adventure", and the inspiration for the piece was a fairy tale from Norway...

. Other Columbia recordings from the early 1950s include Beethoven's Eroica
Symphony No. 3 (Beethoven)
Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 in E flat major , also known as the Eroica , is a landmark musical work marking the full arrival of the composer's "middle-period," a series of unprecedented large scale works of emotional depth and structural rigor.The symphony is widely regarded as a mature...

, Pastoral
Symphony No. 6 (Beethoven)
Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68, also known as the Pastoral Symphony , is a symphony composed by Ludwig van Beethoven, and was completed in 1808...

and Eighth
Symphony No. 8 (Beethoven)
Symphony No. 8 in F Major, Op. 93 is a symphony in four movements composed by Ludwig van Beethoven in 1812. Beethoven fondly referred to it as "my little Symphony in F," distinguishing it from his Sixth Symphony, a longer work also in F....

 symphonies, Mendelssohn's Italian
Symphony No. 4 (Mendelssohn)
The Symphony No. 4 in A major, Op. 90, commonly known as the Italian, is an orchestral symphony written by German composer Felix Mendelssohn ....

symphony, and the Brahms Violin Concerto
Violin Concerto (Brahms)
Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 77 is a violin concerto in three movements composed by Johannes Brahms in 1878 and dedicated to his friend, the violinist Joseph Joachim...

 with Isaac Stern
Isaac Stern
Isaac Stern was a Ukrainian-born violinist. He was renowned for his recordings and for discovering new musical talent.-Biography:Isaac Stern was born into a Jewish family in Kremenets, Ukraine. He was fourteen months old when his family moved to San Francisco...

.

From his return to England at the end of the Second World War until his final recordings in 1959, Beecham continued his early association with HMV and British Columbia, who had merged to form EMI
EMI Records
EMI Records is the flagship record label founded by the EMI company in 1972 and launched in January 1973 as the successor to its Columbia label. The EMI label was launched worldwide...

. From 1955, his EMI recordings made in London were recorded in stereo. He also recorded in Paris, with his own RPO and with the Orchestra National de la Radiodiffusion Française
Orchestre National de France
The Orchestre national de France is a symphony orchestra run by Radio France. It has also been known as the Orchestre national de la Radiodiffusion française and Orchestre national de l'Office de Radiodiffusion Télévision Française .Since 1944, the orchestra has been based in the Théâtre...

, though the Paris recordings were in mono until 1958. For EMI, Beecham recorded two complete operas in stereo, Die Entführung aus dem Serail
Die Entführung aus dem Serail
Die Entführung aus dem Serail is an opera Singspiel in three acts by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The German libretto is by Christoph Friedrich Bretzner with adaptations by Gottlieb Stephanie...

and Carmen
Carmen
Carmen is a French opéra comique by Georges Bizet. The libretto is by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, based on the novella of the same title by Prosper Mérimée, first published in 1845, itself possibly influenced by the narrative poem The Gypsies by Alexander Pushkin...

. His last recordings were made in Paris in December 1959. Beecham's EMI recordings have been continually reissued on LP and CD. In 2011, to mark the 50th anniversary of Beecham's death, EMI released 34 CDs of his recordings of music from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, including works by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Wagner, Richard Strauss and Delius, and many of the French "lollipops" with which he was associated.

Relations with others

Beecham's relations with fellow British conductors were not always cordial. Sir Henry Wood
Henry Wood
Henry Wood was a British conductor.Henry Wood may also refer to:* Henry C. Wood , American Civil War Medal of Honor recipient* Henry Wood , English cricketer...

 regarded him as an upstart and was envious of his success; the scrupulous Sir Adrian Boult
Adrian Boult
Sir Adrian Cedric Boult CH was an English conductor. Brought up in a prosperous mercantile family he followed musical studies in England and at Leipzig, Germany, with early conducting work in London for the Royal Opera House and Sergei Diaghilev's ballet company. His first prominent post was...

 found him "repulsive" as a man and a musician; and Sir John Barbirolli
John Barbirolli
Sir John Barbirolli, CH was an English conductor and cellist. Born in London, of Italian and French parentage, he grew up in a family of professional musicians. His father and grandfather were violinists...

 mistrusted him. Sir Malcolm Sargent
Malcolm Sargent
Sir Harold Malcolm Watts Sargent was an English conductor, organist and composer widely regarded as Britain's leading conductor of choral works...

 worked with him in founding the London Philharmonic and was a friend and ally, but he was the subject of unkind, though witty, digs from Beecham who, for example, described the image-conscious Herbert von Karajan
Herbert von Karajan
Herbert von Karajan was an Austrian orchestra and opera conductor. To the wider world he was perhaps most famously associated with the Berlin Philharmonic, of which he was principal conductor for 35 years...

 as "a kind of musical Malcolm Sargent." Beecham's relations with foreign conductors were often excellent. He did not get on well with Arturo Toscanini
Arturo Toscanini
Arturo Toscanini was an Italian conductor. One of the most acclaimed musicians of the late 19th and 20th century, he was renowned for his intensity, his perfectionism, his ear for orchestral detail and sonority, and his photographic memory...

, but he liked and encouraged Wilhelm Furtwängler
Wilhelm Furtwängler
Wilhelm Furtwängler was a German conductor and composer. He is widely considered to have been one of the greatest symphonic and operatic conductors of the 20th century. By the 1930s he had built a reputation as one of the leading conductors in Europe, and he was the leading conductor who remained...

, admired Pierre Monteux
Pierre Monteux
Pierre Monteux was an orchestra conductor. Born in Paris, France, Monteux later became an American citizen.-Life and career:Monteux was born in Paris in 1875. His family was descended from Sephardi Jews who came to France in the wake of the Spanish Inquisition. He studied violin from an early age,...

, fostered Rudolf Kempe
Rudolf Kempe
Rudolf Kempe was a German conductor.- Biography :Kempe was born in Dresden, where from the age of fourteen he studied at the Dresden State Opera School. He played oboe in the opera orchestra of Dortmund and then in the Leipzig Gewandhaus orchestra, from 1929...

 as his successor with the RPO, and was admired by Fritz Reiner
Fritz Reiner
Frederick Martin “Fritz” Reiner was a prominent conductor of opera and symphonic music in the twentieth century.-Biography:...

, Otto Klemperer
Otto Klemperer
Otto Klemperer was a German conductor and composer. He is widely regarded as one of the leading conductors of the 20th century.-Biography:Otto Klemperer was born in Breslau, Silesia Province, then in Germany...

 and Herbert von Karajan.

Despite his lordly drawl, Beecham remained a Lancastrian at heart. "In my county, where I come from, we're all a bit vulgar, you know, but there is a certain heartiness – a sort of bonhomie about our vulgarity – which tides you over a lot of rough spots in the path. But in Yorkshire, in a spot of bother, they're so damn-set-in-their-ways that there's no doing anything with them!"

Beecham has been much quoted. In 1929, the editor of a music journal wrote, "The stories gathered around Sir Thomas Beecham are innumerable. Wherever musicians come together, he is likely to be one of the topics of conversation. Everyone telling a Beecham story tries to imitate his manner and his tone of voice." A book, Beecham Stories, was published in 1978 consisting entirely of his bons mots and anecdotes about him. Some are variously attributed to Beecham or one or more other people, including Arnold Bax
Arnold Bax
Sir Arnold Edward Trevor Bax, KCVO was an English composer and poet. His musical style blended elements of romanticism and impressionism, often with influences from Irish literature and landscape. His orchestral scores are noted for their complexity and colourful instrumentation...

 and Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

; Neville Cardus
Neville Cardus
Sir John Frederick Neville Cardus CBE was an English writer and critic, best known for his writing on music and cricket. For many years, he wrote for The Manchester Guardian. He was untrained in music, and his style of criticism was subjective, romantic and personal, in contrast with his critical...

 admitted to inventing some himself. Among the Beecham lines that are reliably attributed are, "A musicologist is a man who can read music but can't hear it"; his maxim, "There are only two things requisite so far as the public is concerned for a good performance: that is for the orchestra to begin together and end together; in between it doesn't matter much"; and his remark at his 70th birthday celebrations after telegrams were read out from Strauss, Stravinsky and Sibelius: "Nothing from Mozart?"

Honours and commemorations

Beecham was knighted in 1916 and succeeded to the baronetcy on the death of his father later that year. In 1938 the President of France, Albert Lebrun, invested him with the Légion d'honneur. Beecham was a Commendatore of the Order of the Crown of Italy and was made a Companion of Honour in the 1957 Queen's Birthday Honours
Queen's Birthday Honours
The Queen's Birthday Honours is a part of the British honours system, being a civic occasion on the celebration of the Queen's Official Birthday in which new members of most Commonwealth Realms honours are named. The awards are presented by the reigning monarch or head of state, currently Queen...

. He was an honorary Doctor of Music
Doctor of Music
The Doctor of Music degree , like other doctorates, is an academic degree of the highest level. The D.Mus. is intended for musicians and composers who wish to combine the highest attainments in their area of specialization with doctoral-level academic study in music...

 of the universities of Oxford, London
University of London
-20th century:Shortly after 6 Burlington Gardens was vacated, the University went through a period of rapid expansion. Bedford College, Royal Holloway and the London School of Economics all joined in 1900, Regent's Park College, which had affiliated in 1841 became an official divinity school of the...

, Manchester
University of Manchester
The University of Manchester is a public research university located in Manchester, United Kingdom. It is a "red brick" university and a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive British universities and the N8 Group...

 and Montreal
Université de Montréal
The Université de Montréal is a public francophone research university in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It comprises thirteen faculties, more than sixty departments and two affiliated schools: the École Polytechnique and HEC Montréal...

.

Beecham, by Caryl Brahms
Caryl Brahms
Caryl Brahms, born Doris Caroline Abrahams was an English critic, novelist, and journalist specialising in the theatre and ballet. She also wrote film, radio and television scripts....

 and Ned Sherrin
Ned Sherrin
Edward George "Ned" Sherrin CBE was an English broadcaster, author and stage director. He qualified as a barrister and then worked in independent television before joining the BBC...

, is a play celebrating the conductor and drawing on a large number of Beecham stories for its material. Its first production, in 1979, starred Timothy West
Timothy West
Timothy Lancaster West, CBE is an English film, stage and television actor.-Career:West's craggy looks ensured a career as a character actor rather than a leading man. He began his career as an Assistant Stage Manager at the Wimbledon Theatre in 1956, and followed this with several seasons of...

 in the title role. It was later adapted for television, starring West, with members of the Hallé Orchestra taking part in the action and playing pieces associated with Beecham.

In 1980 the Royal Mail put Beecham's image on the 13½p postage stamp in a series portraying British conductors; the other three in the series depicted Wood, Sargent and Barbirolli. The Sir Thomas Beecham Society preserves Beecham's legacy through its website and release of historic recordings.

Sources

RCA CD 09026-61266-2 EMI CD CDM 7-63374-2 EMI CD 5-67231-2 EMI CD CDM 7 63401 2 EMI CD CDM 7-63412-2 EMI CD 5-67231-2 Sony CD SMK87780 Sony CD SMK89889 EMI CD CDM-7-63396-2

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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