Edward Downes

Biography

Born: June 17, 1924; Birmingham, England   Died: July 10, 2009; Zurich, Switzerland  
Sir Edward (Thomas) Downes was a well-known and highly respected British conductor. (He was not related to the American music critic, lecturer, and Metropolitan Opera Broadcast intermission commentator Edward (Olin Davenport) Downes, [b. 1911].)

As a boy, he learned to play the violin and piano and sang in a choir. He studied at the University of Birmington (1941 - 1944) and the Royal College of Music (1944 - 1946). His instrument was the
Read more horn, but he also studied theory and composition. He took a position as a lecturer at Aberdeen University. In 1948 he won the Carnegie Scholarship, which enabled him to study with conductor Herman Scherchen. His first conducting job was with the Carl Rosa Opera Company, beginning in 1950. In 1952 he moved over to Covent Garden. He first attracted wide attention with a performance of Der Freischütz in April 1954. Later that year he had an even more dramatic performance when he took over at the last minute (and without an orchestral rehearsal) a new production of Les contes d'Hoffmann.

In 1963 he was selected to lead the first Western performances in nearly 30 years of Shostakovich's once-banned opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, in its new edition renamed Katerina Ismaîlova. Moreover, he prepared the English translation used in that production. He went on to make performing translations of other Russian operas such as Mussorgsky's Khovanschina and Prokofiev's War and Peace. In 1966 he was appointed assistant to the music director, Sir Georg Solti, at Covent Garden. In 1967 he conducted a full cycle of Wagner's Ring, the first British conductor to do so since Beecham. He officially resigned his staff position at Covent Garden at the end of the 1968 - 1969 season, but frequently conducted there, including premieres of Richard Rodney Bennett's Victory in 1970 and Peter Maxwell Davies' Taverner in 1972.

In 1969 he was appointed musical director of the Australian Opera. There he conducted the first opera performed in the new Sydney Opera House on September 28, 1973, War and Peace. His first appearance with the Welsh National Opera was in 1975. He gave up his Sydney position in 1976. He also conducted the Netherlands Radio Orchestra until 1983. In 1980 he was appointed principal conductor of the BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra in Manchester, which later the same year was renamed the BBC Philharmonic. When he left the orchestra in 1991, he was given the title Conductor Emeritus. He was knighted in the same year.

His scholarship in the field of Russian music has resulted in a completion of Prokofiev's opera Maddalena from the composer's manuscript sketches, and the preparation and premiere recording of incidental music by Prokofiev to Pushkin's Eugene Onegin. He regularly recorded for the Chandos Records label.

Downes and his terminally ill wife, a former ballet dancer whom he had married in 1955, died in Zurich, Switzerland, in July, 2009. Read less

There are 97 Edward Downes recordings available.

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Formats & Featured

Biography

Born: June 17, 1924; Birmingham, England   Died: July 10, 2009; Zurich, Switzerland  
Sir Edward (Thomas) Downes was a well-known and highly respected British conductor. (He was not related to the American music critic, lecturer, and Metropolitan Opera Broadcast intermission commentator Edward (Olin Davenport) Downes, [b. 1911].)

As a boy, he learned to play the violin and piano and sang in a choir. He studied at the University of Birmington (1941 - 1944) and the Royal College of Music (1944 - 1946). His instrument was the
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WORKS ALBUMS
TITLE/COMPOSER
LABEL
I. Sterbelied. Sehr ruhig und gefasst, mit verhaltener tiefer Empfindung
II. Dies eine kann mein Schnen nimmer fassen. Mit leidenschaftlichem Schmerz, massig schnell, erregt im Ausdruck
III. Mond, so gehst du wieder auf. Mit grosster, schmerzlichster Ruhe, ganz langsam, stets ausserst gebunden, ausdrucksvoll
IV. Gefasster Abschied. Mit liebenswurdigen, heitergemutvollem Ausdruck
I. Moderato, ma energico
II. Scherzo. Allegro molto - Trio. Molto meno (Tranquillo)
III. Adagio. Lento
IV. Finale. Allegro
1. Allegro
2. Adagio
3. Allegro agitato
1. Allegro
2. Adagio
3. Allegro agitato
I. Introduction
I. On the Senate Square
I. Dance on the Square
II. Eugene
II. Parasha
II. Lyric Scene
III. Dancing Scene
IV. Fortune-telling
IV. Dancing in a Ring with Dancing
V. Meeting (second lyric scene)
VI. Waltz
VII. Anticipation (Beginning of the Storm)
VIII. Hymn to the Great City
I. Allegro
II. Andante
III. Moderato - Allegro vivace
I. Allegro vivace e nobilmente
II. Larghetto
III. Rondo
IV. Moderato e maestoso
No. 1. Sterblied (Requiem)
No. 2. Dies eine kann mein Sehnen nimmer fassen (The one thing my longing can never grasp)
No. 3. Mond, so gehst du wieder auf (Moon, you rise again)
No. 4. Gefasster Abschied (Calm Farewell)
I. Moderato, ma energico
II. Scherzo: Allegro molto - Trio: Molto meno [tranquillo]
III. Adagio: Lento
IV. Finale: Allegro
I. Moderato - Allegro moderato -
II. Adagio molto -
III. Presto - Andante - Tempo I
I. Moderato
II. Lento - Andante con moto -
III. Passacaglia: Allegro energico
I. Allegro energico
II. Andante sostenuto
III. Allegro impetuoso - Tempo de marcia triste
I. Andante - Allegro moderato - Andante
II. Allegro molto vivace
III. Andante
IV. Finale: Allegro
I. Andante tranquillo - Allegro molto moderato - Calmo, tempo I
II. Andante espressivo e sostenuto
III. Finale [Alleluja]: Allegro energico
I. Wandering Pilgrims - Ilya Muromets and Svyagotor -
I. Wandering Pilgrims - Ilya Muromets and Svyagotor
II. Nightingale the Robber
III. At the Court of Vladimir the Mighty Sun
IV. The Heroic Deeds and Petrification of Ilya Muromets
IV. The Heroic Deeds and Petrification of Ilya Muromets
I. Allegro pesante
II. Allegro giocoso
III. Andante con variazioni
IV. Allegro vivace
Introduction
The Cossacks write the letter then read it
They laugh
They dance and rejoice
Finale


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