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Sir Adrian Boult was born on 8th April, 1889 in Chester and died on 22nd February 1983 in London and hence next year we mark 30 years since his passing. From an early age he was attending concerts, firstly in Liverpool, primarily with Hans Richter, and then in London, whilst a pupil at Westminster School, by Sir Henry Wood, Claude Debussy, Arthur Nikisch and Richard Strauss; he also met Elgar for whose music he was to do so much during his life. He started studying History at Christ Church, Oxford but changed to music graduating in 1912. Among musical friends at Oxford was Ralph Vaughan Williams with whose compositions he is much associated.
He spent a year studying in Leipzig where Arthur Nikisch had the greatest influence on him. He gained experience conducting for both the Royal Opera House, where he assisted in the first production there of Wagner’s Parsifal , and Serge Diaghilev’s ballet company. He was appointed conductor of the City of Birmingham Orchestra in 1924 and six years later the BBC made him director of music where he established the BBC Symphony Orchestra and became its chief conductor. During these years he introduced works by Bartók, Stravinsky and the Second Viennese School composers – Schönberg, Webern and Berg including his opera Wozzeck.
Forced to leave the BBC when he reached their retirement age, he became chief conductor of the LPO retiring in 1957. Although he worked with the other London Orchestras he was generally associated with them and this set of recordings bears this out. He became a champion of British music, giving numerous performances of Bliss, Britten, Delius, Tippett, Walton and Holst, whose Planets he had premiered, and the aforementioned Elgar and Vaughan Williams that he was primarily associated. His repertoire was wide from Baroque through to modern but it was the main period of Mozart to Brahms where he was pre-eminent. He continued conducting concerts and recordings until 1978.
7th October 2012
“a fine collection of his late, ripe performances of mainstream classics, mostly with the LPO in the 1970s. A fascinating picture emerges of performance styles in transition: from Bach's Brandenburgs with jolly recorders to Wagner extracts full of fire and energy...but the pearl is Boult's unbeatably powerful and perfectly paced Schubert Ninth, thrilling and full-bodied.”
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