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Sir Thomas Beecham, Bt, CH</small> (29 April 1879 – 8 March 1961) was an English conductor and impresario best known for his association with the London Philharmonic and the Royal Philharmonic orchestras. He was also closely associated with the Liverpool Philharmonic and Hallé 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, 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, Drury Lane and His Majesty's Theatre with international stars, his own orchestra and a wide repertoire. Among the works he introduced to England were Richard Strauss's Elektra, Salome and Der Rosenkavalier and three operas by Frederick Delius.Together with his younger colleague Malcolm Sargent, Beecham founded the London Philharmonic, and he conducted its first performance at the Queen's Hall in 1932. In the 1940s, he worked for three years in the United States, where he was music director of the Seattle Symphony and conducted at the Metropolitan Opera. 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. Other composers with whose music he was frequently associated were Haydn, Schubert, Sibelius and the composer he revered above all others, Mozart. Wikipedia

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Soundtrack

Soundtrack

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Atonement2007performer: "O Soave Fanciulla, O Dolce Viso" - as Sir Thomas Beecham
Le mirage1992performer: "Symphonie en Ut"
The Sky at Night1957TV Series documentary performer: "At the Castle Gate" - as Sir Thomas Beecham
The Tales of Hoffmann1951as Sir Thomas Beecham Bart., "Jacques Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffmann, A Fantastic Opera" / arranger: "Jacques Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffmann, A Fantastic Opera"
The Red Shoes1948performer: "The Ballet of The Red Shoes" - as Sir Thomas Beecham, Bart.

Music Department

Music Department

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Honeymoon1959conductor
The Tales of Hoffmann1951conductor - as Sir Thomas Beecham Bart.
Affairs of a Rogue1948conductor - as Sir Thomas Beecham
The Gods Go a-Begging1946TV Movie music arranged by - as Sir Thomas Beecham
Mozart1936conductor - as Sir Thomas Beecham Bart

Self

Self

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Monitor1959TV Series documentaryHimself
Small World1959TV SeriesHimself
Person to Person1955TV Series documentaryHimself
The Tales of Hoffmann1951Himself, conductor (uncredited)
Mozart1936Himself - Conductor, London Symphony Orchestra (as Sir Thomas Beecham Bart)

Archive Footage

Archive Footage

TitleYearStatusCharacter
The South Bank Show2004TV Series documentaryHimself
Great Performances1995TV SeriesHimself
Omnibus1968TV Series documentaryHimself

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#Fact
1Met future wife Betty Humby when she was 12. She played at several of his concerts.
2He sincerely and honestly believed that the works of George Frideric Handel had to be re-orchestrated and edited before they were acceptable to a modern audience, and he often did exactly that. Today this attitude would be considered sacrilegious by some; however, Beecham, unlike Leopold Stokowski, never re-orchestrated just for show, and CDs of Beecham's versions of Handel's works continue to be released to great acclaim.
3In 1959, he recorded a drastically re-orchestrated stereo version of Handel's "Messiah", rescored by Sir Eugene Goossens for a huge chorus and a modern symphony orchestra, complete with cymbals and tam-tams. Purists were horrified, but today the recording has been critically re-assessed and found to be immensely entertaining.
4His early stereo recording of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade" is widely considered the finest performance of the work.
5He was a great champion of Frederick Delius.
6He is considered the greatest English conductor.
7He is as famous for his dry, sarcastic witticisms as for his conducting.
8He formed the Royal Philharmonic in 1947, and conducted it from 1947 until his death.
9Two sons by his first marriage
10He was awarded a Companion of Honour in the 1957 Queen's Honours List for his services to music.
11Succeeded to the baronetcy on the death of his father (who had been made a Baron in 1914) in 1916.
12He was awarded Knight Bachelor of the Order of the British Empire in the 1916 King's Honours List for his services to music.
13The eldest son of the late Sir Joseph Beecham, the wealthy manufacturer of pills and the famous Beecham's Powders.
14His eldest son Adrian Welles Beecham succeeded him in the baronetcy.

#Quote
1The English may not like music, but they absolutely love the noise it makes.
2When a horse defecated on stage during a Covent Garden performance of Verdi's "Aida": "A distressing spectacle, to be sure, but, Gad, what a critic!"
3There are two golden rules for an orchestra: start together and finish together. The public doesn't give a damn what goes on in between.
4All the arts in America are a gigantic racket run by unscrupulous men for unhealthy women.
5[Describing the harpsichord] "Like two skeletons copulating on a corrugated tin roof."
6[To lady cellist playing badly at rehearsal] "Madam, you have between your legs an instrument capable of giving pleasure to thousands - and all you can do is scratch it."


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