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Thomas Beecham Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (2)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (1)  | Trivia (14)  | Personal Quotes (6)

Overview (2)

Born in St. Helens, Merseyside, England, UK
Died in London, England, UK  (cerebral thrombosis)

Mini Bio (1)

Thomas Beecham was born on April 29, 1879 in St. Helens, Merseyside, England. He was married to Shirley Hudson, Betty Humby-Beecham and Utica Celestia Welles. He died on March 8, 1961 in London, England.

Family (1)

Spouse Shirley Hudson (1959 - 8 March 1961)  (his death)
Betty Humby-Beecham (19 January 1943 - 2 September 1958)  (her death)
Utica Celestia Welles (1903 - 14 January 1943)  (divorced)  (2 children)

Trivia (14)

His eldest son Adrian Welles Beecham succeeded him in the baronetcy.
The eldest son of the late Sir Joseph Beecham, the wealthy manufacturer of pills and the famous Beecham's Powders.
He was awarded Knight Bachelor of the Order of the British Empire in the 1916 King's Honours List for his services to music.
Succeeded to the baronetcy on the death of his father (who had been made a Baron in 1914) in 1916.
He was awarded a Companion of Honour in the 1957 Queen's Honours List for his services to music.
Two sons by his first marriage
He formed the Royal Philharmonic in 1947, and conducted it from 1947 until his death.
He is as famous for his dry, sarcastic witticisms as for his conducting.
He is considered the greatest English conductor.
He was a great champion of Frederick Delius.
His early stereo recording of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade" is widely considered the finest performance of the work.
In 1959, he recorded a drastically re-orchestrated stereo version of Handel's "Messiah", rescored by Sir Eugene Goossens for a huge chorus and a modern symphony orchestra, complete with cymbals and tam-tams. Purists were horrified, but today the recording has been critically re-assessed and found to be immensely entertaining.
He sincerely and honestly believed that the works of George Frideric Handel had to be re-orchestrated and edited before they were acceptable to a modern audience, and he often did exactly that. Today this attitude would be considered sacrilegious by some; however, Beecham, unlike Leopold Stokowski, never re-orchestrated just for show, and CDs of Beecham's versions of Handel's works continue to be released to great acclaim.
Met future wife Betty Humby when she was 12. She played at several of his concerts.

Personal Quotes (6)

[To lady cellist playing badly at rehearsal] "Madam, you have between your legs an instrument capable of giving pleasure to thousands - and all you can do is scratch it."
[Describing the harpsichord] "Like two skeletons copulating on a corrugated tin roof."
All the arts in America are a gigantic racket run by unscrupulous men for unhealthy women.
There are two golden rules for an orchestra: start together and finish together. The public doesn't give a damn what goes on in between.
When a horse defecated on stage during a Covent Garden performance of Verdi's "Aida": "A distressing spectacle, to be sure, but, Gad, what a critic!"
The English may not like music, but they absolutely love the noise it makes.

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