Sir Thomas Beecham

Biography

Born: 1879   Died: 1961   Country: England  
Conductor Sir Thomas Beecham was born into wealth; his father, Sir Joseph Beecham, was the manufacturer of "Beecham's Pills," an all-purpose remedy very popular in Britain. More importantly, though, Sir Joseph was also a lover of music and exposed his son to it from an early age; happily, he raised no objection to Thomas' pursuit of a musical career.

After both formal and autodidactic training, Beecham made his professional debut as a Read more symphony conductor in 1905 with members of the Queen's Hall Orchestra. When he wanted an orchestra to conduct full time, he simply used the resources of the family fortune to start one, which he led for a number of years. In 1910 Beecham began producing operas as a private impresario; he brought to the stage the British premieres of Strauss' Salome and Elektra, and operas by Delius. He founded the Beecham Opera Company, mainly made of British singers, in 1915.

However, even a fortune the size of his could not keep pace with the expenses of such activities. He was declared bankrupt in 1919 and withdrew from music to put his financial affairs into order. Having recovered by 1923, he returned to the podium, and his conducting career soon flourished. In 1928 he made his American debut with the New York Philharmonic; characteristic of his championing of Delius, he founded a festival dedicated to the music of that composer in 1929.

In 1932, Beecham, dissatisfied with the standards of the orchestral scene, founded the London Philharmonic Orchestra, staffing it with the finest players. It quickly became a top-rank ensemble and successfully toured the Continent. He became artistic director at Covent Garden in 1932, and ruled there in his customary autocratic manner. When the war began, Beecham toured the United States and Australia. He was appointed music director and conductor of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra (1941-1943) and was a frequent guest conductor at the Metropolitan Opera Company until he returned to England in 1944.

Upon his arrival in England, Beecham discovered that the orchestras there weren't overly enthusiastic at the prospect of working permanently in proximity to his withering tongue and dictatorial manner. Even the London Philharmonic Orchestra, with a new charter that permitted it to make some of its own decisions, showed little interest in having him at the helm full-time. So, typically, Beecham founded a new orchestra in 1946 -- the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra -- and maintained his relationship with this group for the remainder of his career.

Beecham had already made a notable number of recordings before World War II. With the coming of the LP record after the war, and into the beginning of the stereo era, he recorded frequently. His recordings of Mozart, Haydn, Handel (he did not like Bach), Delius, Mendelssohn, Berlioz, and Sibelius are particularly esteemed; his recordings of Carmen and Madama Butterfly remain classics. Read less

Browse 1-25 of 132 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Sibelius: Histoical Recordings and Rarities 1928-48
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 552772 Release Date: 10/02/2015   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  Jean Sibelius
    Performer:  Helmi [Soprano Vocal] Liukkonen,  Jascha Heifetz,  Gerald Moore,  Emil Telmányi  ... 
    Conductor:  Robert Kajanus,  Sir Thomas Beecham,  Jean Sibelius,  Sir Adrian Boult  ... 
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  • 2.
    Richard Wagner: Tristan Und Isolde
    Label: Andromeda   Catalog: 5164 Release Date: 06/10/2014   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
    CD: $14.99
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  • 3.
    Haydn: London Symphonies, The Seasons / Beecham
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 846032 Release Date: 01/14/2014   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn
    Performer:  Elsie Morison,  Alexander Young,  Michael Langdon
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Beecham Choral Society
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  • 4.
    BBC Legends - Great Recordings from the Archive
    Label: Ica Classics   Catalog: 5113 Release Date: 10/29/2013   Number of Discs: 20
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler,  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Robert Schumann,  Johann Sebastian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Beryl Hatt,  Agnes Giebel,  Joyce Barker,  Kerstin Meyer  ... 
    Conductor:  Jascha Horenstein,  Yevgeny Mravinsky,  Arturo Toscanini,  Kiril Kondrashin  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Orpington Junior Singers,  Goldsmiths' Choral Union  ... 
    CD: $98.99
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  • 5.
    Puccini: La Boheme / Bjorling, De Los Angeles, Beecham
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 2075 Release Date: 07/12/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Victoria de los Angeles,  Jussi Björling,  Robert Merrill,  John Reardon  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra,  Columbus Boychoir,  RCA Victor Chorus
    CD: $21.99
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  • 6.
    Puccini: Suor Angelica / De Los Angeles, Barbieri, Serafin
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 1306 Release Date: 07/12/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Victoria de los Angeles,  Fedora Barbieri,  Mina Doro,  Jussi Björling
    Conductor:  Tullio Serafin,  Sir Thomas Beecham
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra,  Rome Opera House Chorus,  RCA Victor Orchestra
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  • 7.
    Label: Zyx Records   Catalog: 4645596 Release Date: 02/05/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Jacques Offenbach
    Performer:  Anneliese Muller,  Josef Metternich,  Anny Schlemm,  Rudolf Schock  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
    CD: $12.99
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  • 8.
    Puccini: The Great Operas [13-CD Set]
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 9011 Release Date: 01/22/2013   Number of Discs: 13
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Victoria de los Angeles,  Jussi Björling,  Robert Merrill,  John Reardon  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham,  Victor De Sabata,  Gianandrea Gavazzeni,  Giuseppe Morelli  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra,  Columbus Boychoir,  RCA Victor Chorus  ... 
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  • 9.
    Grieg: Music For Peer Gynt / Beecham, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
    Label: Hiq Records   Catalog: 2 Release Date: 01/15/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Edvard Grieg
    Performer:  Ilse Hollweg
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Beecham Choral Society
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  • 10.
    Label: Bongiovanni   Catalog: 723 Release Date: 11/27/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi
    Performer:  Maria Caniglia,  Beniamino Gigli,  Ebe Stignani,  Armando Borgioli
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra
    CD: $17.99
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  • 11.
    The Greatest Classical Music Ever!: The Best Classical Music In The Movies Ever!
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 04105 Release Date: 09/18/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Edvard Grieg,  Stanley Myers,  James Horner,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Steve Morse,  Manuel Barrueco,  James Horner,  David Abel  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham,  Riccardo Muti,  Iain Sutherland,  Eugene Ormandy  ... 
    CD: $7.99
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  • 12.
    Beecham Conducts Berlioz, Grieg, D'indy, Saint-saens
    Label: Somm   Catalog: 3200 Release Date: 08/14/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Edvard Grieg,  Vincent D'Indy,  Camille Saint-Saëns
    Performer:  Denis Vaughan
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  BBC Symphony Orchestra
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  • 13.
    Label: Zyx Records   Catalog: 10132 Release Date: 05/25/2012   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Jascha Heifetz,  Rudolf Serkin,  Rita Streich  ... 
    Conductor:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Sir Thomas Beecham,  Alfred Scholz,  Eugene Ormandy  ... 
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  • 14.
    Handel: Concerto Grosso; R. Strauss: Til Eulenspiegels; Don Juan; Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 3; Ravel: Rhapsodie Espagnole
    Label: Somm   Catalog: 3100 Release Date: 03/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Richard Strauss,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
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  • 15.
    Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique / Beecham, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 85182 Release Date: 01/24/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  ORTF National Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Beecham Choral Society
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    CD: $15.99
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  • 16.
    Delius - 150th Anniversary Edition [18-CDs]
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 0841752 Release Date: 01/10/2012   Number of Discs: 18
    Composer:  Frederick Delius
    Performer:  Piers Lane,  John Noble,  John Shirley-Quirk,  Yehudi Menuhin  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham,  Sir John Barbirolli,  Vernon Handley,  Sir Charles Mackerras  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Hallé Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 17.
    Best Schubert 100
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 80429 Release Date: 11/01/2011   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  Elmar Schloter,  Sir Philip Ledger,  Alfredo Dallapozza,  Lucia Popp  ... 
    Conductor:  Riccardo Muti,  Sir Thomas Beecham,  Herbert von Karajan,  Yehudi Menuhin  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $21.99
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  • 18.
    Beecham In Toronto
    Label: Music & Arts   Catalog: 1255 Release Date: 10/11/2011   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  George Frideric Handel,  Richard Strauss  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  CBC Symphony Orchestra,  Toronto Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $44.49
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  • 19.
    Wagner: Rienzi Overture; Delius: In A Summer Garden; Schubert: Symphony No. 9
    Label: Somm   Catalog: 29 Release Date: 10/11/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner,  Frederick Delius,  Franz Schubert
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
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  • 20.
    Bizet: Carmen / De Los Angeles, Gedda, Beecham
    Label: Musical Concepts   Catalog: 2503 Release Date: 03/08/2011   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Georges Bizet
    Performer:  Bernard Plantey,  Michel Hamel,  Xavier Depraz,  Victoria de los Angeles  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  French National Radio Orchestra,  French National Radio Chorus,  Les Petits Chanteurs de St. François de Versailles
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  • 21.
    Balanchine Ballets: Jewels; Serenade; Allegro Brillante; Symphony In C
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 48625 Release Date: 01/11/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Gabriel Fauré,  Igor Stravinsky,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Georges Bizet
    Performer:  Michel Béroff,  Peter Donohoe
    Conductor:  Michel Plasson,  Seiji Ozawa,  Riccardo Muti,  Richard Hickox  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toulouse Capitole Orchestra,  Paris Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
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  • 22.
    Gretry: Zemire Et Azor / Lefort, Hamel, Beecham
    Label: Somm   Catalog: 3000 Release Date: 01/10/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  André Modeste Grétry
    Performer:  Bernard Lefort,  Michel Hamel,  Arda Mandikian,  Huguette Boulangeot  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
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  • 23.
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 648500 Release Date: 11/16/2010   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Sergei Prokofiev,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Gioachino Rossini  ... 
    Performer:  Itzhak Perlman,  Katia Labèque,  Marielle Labèque,  Moura Lympany  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta,  Sir Neville Marriner,  Riccardo Muti,  Simon Rattle  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Israel Philharmonic Orchestra,  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $18.99
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  • 24.
    Liszt: A Faust Symphony
    Label: Somm   Catalog: 25 Release Date: 11/09/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Liszt
    Performer:  Alexander Young
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
    CD: $18.99
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  • 25.
    Georges Thill Vol 3 - Gounod
    Label: Hafg   Catalog: 10248 Release Date: 10/15/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Gounod
    Performer:  Marthe Nespoulous,  Fred Bordon,  Georges Thill,  Germaine Feraldy  ... 
    Conductor:  Eugène Bigot,  Sir Thomas Beecham,  Philippe Gaubert
    ArkivCD $16.99
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