John Barbirolli : 1899 - 1970

John Barbirolli, CH, 2 December 2020 – 29 July 2020) was an English conductor and cellist. He was particularly associated with the Hallé Orchestra, Manchester, which he helped save from dissolution in 1943 and conducted for the rest of his life. Earlier in his career he was Arturo Toscanini's successor as music director of the New York Philharmonic, serving there from 1936 to 1943. He was also chief conductor of the Houston Symphony from 1961 to 1967, and was a guest conductor of many other orchestras including the BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia, the Berlin Philharmonic and the Vienna Philharmonic, making recordings with all these orchestras.

Barbirolli's early career was principally in opera, as conductor of the British National Opera Company and Covent Garden's touring company. After taking up the conductorship of the Hallé he had less opportunity to work in the opera house, but he conducted productions of works by Verdi, Wagner, Gluck, and Puccini at Covent Garden with such success, in the 1950s, that he was obliged to disclaim the prospect of becoming the company's permanent musical director. Late in his career he made several recordings of operas, of which his 1967 set of Puccini's Madama Butterfly for EMI is probably the best known.
In the concert hall, Barbirolli was particularly associated with the music of English composers such as Elgar, Delius and Vaughan Williams. He was known for his performances of late 19th- and early 20th-century music by composers such as Mahler and Sibelius, but he was also admired for his interpretations of earlier classical composers, including Schubert.

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