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 212 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    100 Hits: Classical Greats
    Label: 100 Hits   Catalog: 1017490 Release Date: 02/25/2014   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Myra Hess,  Antonio Vivaldi  ... 
    Performer:  Geraint Jones,  Karl Münchinger,  Yehudi Menuhin,  Myra Hess  ... 
    Conductor:  Geraint Jones,  Karl Münchinger,  Yehudi Menuhin,  Leopold Stokowski  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Musici,  Members of the Vienna Octet (Members)
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  • 2.
    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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    CD: $24.99
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  • 3.
    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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  • 4.
    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
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  • 5.
    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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  • 6.
    The Very Best Of Jascha Heifetz
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 164862 Release Date: 02/05/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Henri Vieuxtemps,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Jean Sibelius,  César Franck  ... 
    Performer:  Jascha Heifetz,  Artur Rubinstein,  Arok Sandor,  Emanuel Bay
    Conductor:  Sir Malcolm Sargent,  Sir John Barbirolli,  Sir Thomas Beecham
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  • 7.
    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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  • 8.
    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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  • 9.
    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
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  • 10.
    Essential Encores
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 05149 Release Date: 10/09/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Antonio Bazzini,  Niccolò Paganini,  Fritz Kreisler,  Jules Massenet  ... 
    Performer:  Maxim Vengerov,  Vag Papian,  Michael Rabin,  Tasmin Little  ... 
    Conductor:  Wolfgang Sawallisch,  Rudolf Kempe,  Sir Thomas Beecham,  Mariss Jansons  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Virtuosi,  Nash Ensemble
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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  ... 
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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.
    Voices Of German Opera
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 40497 Release Date: 07/31/2012   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Carl Maria von Weber,  Heinrich Marschner  ... 
    Performer:  Natalie Dessay,  Edda Moser,  Kurt Moll,  Walter Berry  ... 
    Conductor:  Louis Langrée,  Wolfgang Sawallisch,  Berislav Klobucar,  Rudolf Moralt  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment,  Bavarian State Opera Orchestra,  Berlin Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 14.
    Voices Of Italian Opera
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 40509 Release Date: 07/31/2012   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Vincenzo Bellini,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Gioachino Rossini,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  Maria Callas,  Edita Gruberova,  Margherita Carosio,  Francesco Meli  ... 
    Conductor:  Tullio Serafin,  Kurt Eichhorn,  Anatole Fistoulari,  Evelino Pidò  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,  Munich Radio Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $19.99
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  • 15.
    Essential Ballroom Classics
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 27856 Release Date: 06/05/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Aram Khachaturian,  Johann Strauss Jr.,  Charles Danvers,  Ernie Erdman / Billy Meye  ... 
    Performer:  Jose Alberto Giaimo,  Raul Garello,  Julio Pane,  Gareth Morris  ... 
    Conductor:  Efrem Kurtz,  Herbert von Karajan,  Willi Boskovsky,  Simon Rattle  ... 
    CD: $12.99
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  • 16.
    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  ... 
    CD: $12.99
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  • 17.
    Best Overtures 100
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 27333 Release Date: 05/22/2012   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Gioachino Rossini,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Vincenzo Bellini  ... 
    Conductor:  Carlo Maria Giulini,  Gianluigi Gelmetti,  Lamberto Gardelli,  Sir Colin Davis  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 18.
    French Ballet Music  / Beecham
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 6790012 Release Date: 03/26/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Hector Berlioz,  Jules Massenet  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
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  • 19.
    Grieg: Peer Gynt / Beecham, Royal Philharmonic
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 6787632 Release Date: 03/26/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Edvard Grieg
    Conductor:  Sir Thomas Beecham
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 20.
    Dreams Of Nature - Symbolism From Van Gogh To Kandinsky
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 4630782 Release Date: 03/20/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Erik Satie,  Jean Sibelius,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Anne Queffélec,  Vytautas Landsbergis
    Conductor:  Mariss Jansons,  Paavo Berglund,  Michel Plasson,  Sir Thomas Beecham  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra,  Bournemouth Sinfonietta Orchestra,  Toulouse Capitole Orchestra  ... 
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  • 21.
    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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  • 22.
    The Very Best Of Jussi Bjorling
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 6789972 Release Date: 03/13/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Gioachino Rossini,  Gaetano Donizetti,  Amilcare Ponchielli  ... 
    Performer:  Jussi Björling,  Robert Merrill,  Victoria de los Angeles,  Paul Franke  ... 
    Conductor:  Nils Grevillius,  Sir Thomas Beecham,  Renato Cellini
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  • 23.
    The Very Best Of Victoria De Los Angeles
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 679002 Release Date: 03/13/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Pietro Mascagni,  Ruggero Leoncavallo,  Alfredo Catalani  ... 
    Performer:  Victoria de los Angeles,  Jussi Björling,  Carlo del Monte,  Gerald Moore  ... 
    Conductor:  Gabriele Santini,  Sir Thomas Beecham,  Tullio Serafin,  Giuseppe Morelli  ... 
    CD: $17.99
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  • 24.
    Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique / Beecham, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
    Label: Emi 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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  • 25.
    Delius - 150th Anniversary Edition [18-CDs]
    Label: Emi 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  ... 
    Recommendation
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