Artist picture of Sir Thomas Beecham

Sir Thomas Beecham

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Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op.47, IJS 120: II. Adagio di molto Isaac Stern, Sir Thomas Beecham, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra 07:42
Bizet: Carmen, WD 31, Act 1 Scene 4: Récitatif, "Quand je vous aimerai?" - No. 5, Havanaise, "L'amour est un oiseau rebelle" (Carm Victoria De Los Angeles, Orchestre national De La Radiodiffusion Francaise, Sir Thomas Beecham 04:35
Florida Suite Sir Thomas Beecham, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra 04:36
Puccini: La bohème, Act 1: "Che gelida manina" (Rodolfo) Sir Thomas Beecham, Jussi Björling 04:59
Bacchanale from "Samson and Delilah" Sir Thomas Beecham, The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra 07:15
Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op.47, IJS 120: III. Allegro ma non tanto Isaac Stern, Sir Thomas Beecham, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra 07:07
Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op.47, IJS 120: I. Allegro moderato Isaac Stern, Sir Thomas Beecham, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra 14:29
Schubert: Symphony No. 3 in D Major, D. 200: I. Adagio maestoso - Allegro con brio Sir Thomas Beecham, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra 07:38
Florida Suite: 2. By the River Sir Thomas Beecham 07:16
Schubert: Symphony No. 3 in D Major, D. 200: II. Allegretto Sir Thomas Beecham, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra 05:08

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Biography

Once described by the BBC as 'Britain's first international conductor', Sir Thomas Beecham's legend stands high in the annals of classical music. He came from a wealthy family, his father Sir Joseph Beecham had made his fortune from manufacturing Beecham pills and the young Thomas was spared no expense in his early life growing up in St Helens, Lancashire in the 1890s. He had his first music lessons from a local organist and went on to attend the Rossall School in Lancashire before going to Oxford, continuing his studies in London and Paris.

In 1899 he conducted a performance by Manchester's famous Halle Orchestra and went on to become conductor with K Truemans Travelling Opera Company and gave his first symphonic concert in London with members of the Queens Orchestra in 1905. The following year he became conductor of the New Symphony Orchestra before forming the Beecham Symphony Orchestra.

Backed by the family fortune he took over the creative and business management of London's Covent Garden and regularly conducted there and at other prestigious venues, becoming famed particularly for his work on Wagner and Richard Strauss, introducing music that had been rarely heard before to the capital's arts scene. He was knighted in 1916 and on the death of his father acquired the title of Baronet, although he was overstretched by his expansive productions and his operatic enterprise went bankrupt. However, he soon bounced back, travelling extensively to seal his reputation in America and went on to launch a Delius Festival in London, attended by Delius himself, who was by then blind and in poor health.

In 1946 he founded the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and continued to manage them until his health began to fail and he passed the baton to Rudolf Kempe. He was a somewhat controversial character - charismatic and with a sharp sense of humour, but ruthless in his criticism and attitude to others, feared by some and famously unsparing in his words if he felt a member of his orchestra wasn't performing to his standard. He wrote his autobiography 'A Mingled Chime' in 1943 and also wrote a biography of one of his great heroes, Delius. He died in 1961 at the age of 81.