Symphony No. 2
John Barbirolli in Rehearsal and Performance
of this century’s most important conductors, Sir John rehearses the
Vancouver Symphony Orchestra in the Oboe Concerto in C (attributed
to Haydn), with Evelyn Rothwell (Lady Barbirolli) as oboe soloist.
The program concludes with a complete performance of the work. 57
Sir John Barbirolli (1899-1970) was one of the most important English conductors of the century. He began his musical career as a cellist, playing with various ensembles, before forming a chamber orchestra in Chelsea, for which he served as conductor. His reputation as a conductor of note was established when he substituted for Sir Thomas Beecham at a London Symphony Concert in 1927. He led performances at Covent Garden from 1929-1933, after which he was named conductor of the Scottish Orchestra, Glasgow, and the Leeds Symphony Orchestra.
After a successful U.S. debut with the New York Philharmonic in 1936, Barbirolli was appointed the Philharmonic’s principal conductor, a position he held until 1943. Then, back in England, he took charge of the Hallé Orchestra of Manchester, and, despite other engagements, remained that orchestra’s conductor-in-chief until 1968, when he retired with the title of Conductor Laureate for Life. Barbirolli was knighted in 1949 and made a Companion of Honour in 1969.
Among the players in the Scottish Orchestra during Barbirolli’s tenure was one of the foremost oboists of the century, Evelyn Rothwell (b.1911), whom the conductor married in 1939. Rothwell studied with Eugene Goosens at the Royal College of Music in London and went on to play with the London Symphony Orchestra and the Glyndebourne Festival Orchestra in its early years (1934–1939). In 1971, she became a professor of oboe at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and in 1984, she was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire.
57 minutes, CANADA, 1963, Black & White
Photos courtesy of Lady Barbirolli