Sir Thomas Beecham - A sort of Musical Graham Norton.

Sir Thomas Beecham And The Royal Philharmonic In Concert – 1947 – Past Daily Weekend Gramophone

Sir Thomas Beecham – A sort of Musical Graham Norton.

To the heavy, cumbersome, oversized and thoroughly enjoyable BBC Transcriptions this week for a concert by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra led by the legendary and amiable Sir Thomas Beecham in an all-Mozart program, recorded on April 28, 1947.

Starting off with the Overture to The Magic Flute and then to the Divertimento Number 2 and the Piano concerto Number 19 featuring Betty Humby Beecham, piano and ending with the Overture to The Marriage of Figaro.

In 1946, Beecham founded the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO), securing an agreement with the Royal Philharmonic Society that the new orchestra should replace the LPO at all the Society’s concerts. Beecham later agreed with the Glyndebourne Festival that the RPO should be the resident orchestra at Glyndebourne each summer. He secured backing, including that of record companies in the US as well as Britain, with whom lucrative recording contracts were negotiated.[80] As in 1909 and in 1932, Beecham’s assistants recruited in the freelance pool and elsewhere. Original members of the RPO included James Bradshaw, Dennis Brain, Leonard Brain, Archie Camden, Gerald Jackson and Reginald Kell. The orchestra later became celebrated for its regular team of woodwind principals, often referred to as “The Royal Family”, consisting of Jack Brymer (clarinet), Gwydion Brooke (bassoon), Terence MacDonagh (oboe) and Gerald Jackson (flute).

Beecham’s long association with the Hallé Orchestra as a guest conductor ceased after John Barbirolli became the orchestra’s chief conductor in 1944. Beecham was, to his great indignation, ousted from the honorary presidency of the Hallé Concerts Society, and Barbirolli refused to “let that man near my orchestra”. Beecham’s relationship with the Liverpool Philharmonic, which he had first conducted in 1911, was resumed harmoniously after the war. A manager of the orchestra recalled, “It was an unwritten law in Liverpool that first choice of dates offered to guest conductors was given to Beecham. … In Liverpool there was one over-riding factor – he was adored.”

All peppered with witty asides, insights and observations by Sir Thomas himself. So even if you aren’t a particularly big fan of Mozart, or old recordings, just knowing the Marriage of Figaro Overture was known as “The Egg Boiler” is worth the price of admission alone.

The rest is historic icing on the cake.

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6 thoughts on “Sir Thomas Beecham And The Royal Philharmonic In Concert – 1947 – Past Daily Weekend Gramophone

  1. …well, I was wondering where you’d gone…! (Found out in the comments of the last Newstalgia.) Glad to see you’re still plying your trade!

    And any Beecham’s more than welcome (though I think I may have this one). I turn to his Schubert quite a bit; both the old 40’s versions and his swansong versions of the 3rd, 5th, and 8th from the early 60’s. I know I’m supposed to like Abbado more (or whoever the latest greatest reinterpreter is), but there’s something about Sir Thomas’ versions that keep me coming back. (Same with lots of 30’s/40’s types–Koussevitsky’s Prokofiev, *anything* by the Busch Quartet, and I could go on for days.)

    Beecham’s “bonbons” (short, light encore pieces) are marvelous as well. His Faure is beautiful.

    1. Yes, I found a new home, and we’ll be having a lot more of these in the coming weeks! I always use the Sunday “Gramophone” feature to run some of the legendary performers, and I’ll keep doing that until I run out of material (which, with any luck will be sometime about 30 years from now, or if I drop dead, which ever happens first). I keep meaning to put up all the 78-era recordings (since I do bill it as “Weekend Gramophone”), but I keep getting distracted with all the transcription discs. Anything by the Busch Quartet is memorable and I hope to get some of those up in the coming months. We have a lot of stuff, and a lot of history. So I’m glad you found me. I was going to make an announcement in the next week, but I’ve been so busy with getting this new site going that it’s been difficult to tear myself away. Thanks for all your support in the past and, thanks to people like you, we’ll keep it going long into the future!


  2. Hopefully you are here now !! I would have definitly missed your posts if not…….

  3. Great concert! Unfortunately, no cadenza at the end of the first movement of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 19 (in F major, KV 459)… Very strange!

    1. I suspect this may have been due to a time constraint, but I will double check the original discs to make sure the problem wasn’t on this end.

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