Sir Thomas Beecham (conductor)
April 29, 1879 - March 8, 1961
A Movietone film from 1932 in which Sir Thomas Beecham talks about his newly-founded London Philharmonic Orchestra and conducts part of Tchaikovsky's Second Symphony
Apart from his podium skills – which embraced a huge amount of music in numerous different styles – Beecham was one of British music’s greatest patrons, spending a number of fortunes on orchestras and concerts. He founded both the RPO and LPO, and recorded extensively for EMI.
Beecham: a tribute by Edward Gardner
'Despite the brilliance and wit of the anecdotes, I feel a certain sadness that Sir Thomas Beecham is known foremost by the populace for his one-liners rather than for his performances. His ebullient, jovial, ‘English Gentleman’ public persona belied a musician of rare sensitivity and a unique ability to master an extraordinary range of styles. As I write this I’m listening to his 1937 recording of Tristan und Isolde and am struck by the depth of sound, voicing, beauty of line; his Carmen on the other hand shows an effervescence mere mortals find hard to capture. Beecham’s genius is brought home to me most when I’m working on pieces he recorded. His La bohème is perhaps the finest document we have. It’s full of life, and heart but, most striking of all, is his ability to phrase with peerless elegance, keeping the music buoyant for entire acts, never earthbound.'
'The Art of Beecham' (Gramophone, March 2011) by Rob Cowan