Although he was of Australian nationality Sir Charles Mackerras was actually born in Schenectady, New York in 1925. The family moved to Sydney when Mackerras was just three-years-old. In 1947 Sir Charles sailed for England with the intention of becoming a conductor and joined the Sadler's Wells orchestra as a wind player. He soon won a British Council scholarship to study conducting with Vaclav Talich in Prague and it was whilst there that he discovered and fell in love with the music of Janácek.
Returning to London Sir Charles began his life-long association with Sadler's Wells Opera (now English National Opera), developing his reputation as a significant conductor of the works of Janácek, Handel, Gluck, Mozart, Britten, Sullivan and many others.
As well as Sir Charles's first recording of Janácek's Sinfonietta, this 5-CD set also showcases him performing the music of other composers whose music he was particularly famed for the world over.
Sir Charles died on 14 July 2010 at the age of 84. He remained active right up until his illness took over and, at the time of his death, he was scheduled to conduct at the 2010 Proms and the Edinburgh Festival.