John Barbirolli

14 years 10 months ago #43 by fredvogels
fredvogels created the topic: John Barbirolli
Birth: Dec. 2, 1899
London, England
Death: Jul. 29, 1970
London, England

British conductor. Sir John was born Giovanni Battista Barbirolli, Dec 2, 1899. He was born in London "within the sound of Bow-bells" and so, whilst of Italian parentage, was a true Cockney! He made his solo debut as a cellist at age 11 and joined the Queens Hall orchestra - one of London's finest at that time - in 1915. He succeeded Arturo Toscanini as conductor of the New York Philharmonic in 1937, and married the oboist Evelyn Rothwell in 1939. Despite war-time difficulties, he elected to return to England at the height of the war in 1943, to conduct - and rescue - the failing Halle Orchestra of Manchester. He conducted this orchestra for 27 years and raised it back to international standard. Sir John was one of the "discoverers" of the great Jacqueline du Pre and was the conductor for her definitive recorded performance of the Elgar Cello Concerto. He was friend of Rubinstein, Kreisler, Heifetz, Dame Janet Baker, Kathleen Ferrier, Daniel Barenboim and many other famous musicians. It was his close friend, the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams who called him "Glorious John"! Sir John also was a close friend of Sir Edward Elgar in his later years and his recordings are still fimly within the recording catalogue. There are many music lovers who regard Barbirolli as the greatest conductor of Elgar. (His biographer, Michael Kennedy wrote that Sir John was "one of the most lovable and fascinating musicians of the 20th century".) Sir John died in London, from a heart attack following a fight with cancer. He conducted and rehearsed to the last, and died, July 28, 1970. He was cremated and his ashes buried in his parents grave at Kensal Green Catholic Cemetery, which is just a few hundred yards from Kensal Green Station, a short tube-train journey from Central London. The grave is poorly marked and it is best to ask at the Cemetery office which is located about 150 yards, on the right of the main drive into the cemetery. This cemetery should not be confused with the much larger Kensel Green (General) Cemetery which adjoins the Catholic one and which shares an entrance from the main road. (Biography by Ernest Blamires, Sydney Australia, Member of the Elgar Society, .)

Please Login to join the conversation.