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Delian subtlety

The inspired Sir Thomas Beecham -
admired by

'... no better than expected ...'

Delius: Arabesk; Songs of Sunset. © 2000 Lady Beecham and Somm Recordings

I hope I yield to none in my admiration for Sir Thomas Beecham, who bestrode the musical world with a nonchalant ease that combined genius with an unusually healthy bank balance. If he could afford to disdain the importation into this country of so many third-rate conductors when we had an endless supply of second-rate ones already here, and could compliment the Arabs on their musicianship when they took a pot-shot at Sir Malcolm Sargent during a tour of Palestine, he was for at least half a century easily our greatest conductor, and possibly the most inspired the world has ever seen. I first observed that magisterial stroll towards the rostrum and the rapier thrust of that magic baton when he returned from the United States to conduct the Bartered Bride overture at the Albert Hall as the Second World War neared its end. From then I missed as few Beecham concerts as possible, knowing such musicianship would not come my way again; nor has it.

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Copyright © 5 March 2003 Robert Anderson, London, UK


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