Barbirolli, Sir John

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Renowned British conductor, led Manchester’s Hallé Orchestra, succeded Toscanini in New York



Sir John Barbirolli (1899-1970, b. Giovanni Battista Barbirolli), British conductor and cellist, best remembered as conductor of Manchester’s The Hallé Orchestra which he helped save from dissolution in 1943 and conducted for the rest of his life.

Earlier in his career he was Toscanini’s successor as New York Philharmonic music director 1936-43. He was also chief conductor of the Houston Symphony 1961-67, and a guest conductor of many other orchestras, including the BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia, the Berlin Philharmonic and the Vienna Philharmonic, with all of which he made recordings.

Born in London of Italian and French parentage, he grew up in a family of professional musicians. After starting out as a cellist, he was given the chance to conduct, from 1926 with the British National Opera Company, and then with Covent Garden’s touring company. On taking up the conductorship of the Hallé he had less opportunity to work in the opera house, but in the 1950s he conducted productions of works by Verdi, Wagner, Gluck, and Puccini at Covent Garden with much success, but declined an invitation to become 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. He was particularly associated with the music of English composers such as Elgar, Delius, and Vaughn Williams. His interpretations of other late romantic composers, such as Mahler and Sibelius and earlier classical composers, including Schubert, are still admired.


Signed 4 x 4 3/4 tan  autograph album page (signed in person), undated.

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