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Charles Mackerras

Charles Mackerras

Charles Mackerras


Mackerras was born in Schenectady, New York to Alan and Catherine Mackerras, Australians – his father, an electrical engineer, was doing postgraduate work in Schenectady with General Electric – and at an early age he moved with his parents to Sydney. He was the eldest of their seven children, including five brothers, the others being Malcolm, Colin, Alastair and Neil. They are descendants of the pioneer Australian musician Isaac Nathan. Mackerras attended Sydney Grammar School and The King's School, Sydney in Parramatta, a suburb of Sydney. Read more on Last.fm
Mackerras was born in Schenectady, New York to Alan and Catherine Mackerras, Australians – his father, an electrical engineer, was doing postgraduate work in Schenectady with General Electric – and at an early age he moved with his parents to Sydney. He was the eldest of their seven children, including five brothers, the others being Malcolm, Colin, Alastair and Neil. They are descendants of the pioneer Australian musician Isaac Nathan. Mackerras attended Sydney Grammar School and The King's School, Sydney in Parramatta, a suburb of Sydney. He studied oboe, piano and composition at the NSW State Conservatorium of Music in Sydney and eventually became principal oboist of the Sydney Symphony.

He settled in England in 1946. He won a British Council Scholarship in 1947, enabling him to study conducting with Václav Talich at the Prague Academy of Music. In 1947, Mackerras married the clarinetist Judy Wilkins "so that they could go to Prague together."[1]. They have two daughters, Fiona and Catherine. Mackerras is currently the President of Trinity College of Music, London. He also serves as Music Advisor to City Opera of Vancouver, a professional chamber opera company led by conductor Charles Barber.[1] [edit]Early career Returning to England from Prague in 1948, Mackerras began his life-long association with Sadler's Wells Opera, now English National Opera, conducting, among others, Janáček, Händel, Gluck, Bach, and Donizetti.

In the 1950s, well before the "authenticity" movement had come to general notice, Mackerras focused on the study and practical realization of period performance techniques, culminating in his landmark 1959 recording of Handel's Royal Fireworks Music using the original wind band instrumentation. In his 1965 performance of The Marriage of Figaro, he added the ornamentation in a historically informed style. At the same time, he gained general recognition for Janáček as one of this century's great opera composers, and established his reputation as the world's most authoritative conductor of Czech music outside of the then Czechoslovakia.[citation needed] Mackerras has performed a wide range of repertoire, but is particularly closely associated with the operas of Leoš Janáček. In 1951 he conducted the British premiere of Katya Kabanova, which had been written thirty years earlier.

He is also a noted authority on Mozart's operas (it has been said[who?] that if the scores of Mozart's operas were all somehow destroyed, Mackerras would be able to reconstruct them from memory) and those of Sir Arthur Sullivan. His Sullivan ballet arrangement Pineapple Poll (1951, just after the expiration of copyright on Sullivan's music), based on one of Gilbert's Bab Ballads, continues to be a popular light music favorite in English speaking countries. Mackerras also arranged music by Giuseppe Verdi for the ballet The Lady and the Fool. He also arranged a suite from John Ireland's score for the 1946 film The Overlanders, after Ireland's death in 1962. He became principal conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra from 1954 to 1956.

In 1963 he made his debut at London's Covent Garden conducting Shostakovich's Katerina Ismailova. He directed the Hamburg State Opera from 1965 to 1969 and English National Opera from 1970 to 1978. In 1972 he made his Metropolitan Opera debut in New York conducting Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice. Mackerras worked closely with Benjamin Britten for a time, but after he had joked about Britten's relationships with young boys, they didn't work together again.

The events are described in John Bridcut's Britten's Children. [edit]Later career Mackerras was a guest conductor of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company for The Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado during the 1975 D'Oyly Carte Centenary season at the Savoy. He later joined the D'Oyly Carte Opera Trust and later its Board of Trustees. In 1982 he was the first Australian national appointed chief conductor of the Sydney Symphony, a post he held until 1985. In 1980 he became the first non-Briton to conduct the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Last Night of the Proms. Mackerras directed the Welsh National Opera from 1987 to 1992, where his Janáček productions won particular praise. One of the highlights of the 1991 season was the reopening of the Estates Theatre in Prague, scene of the original premiere of Don Giovanni, in which Mackerras conducted a new production of that opera to mark the bicentenary of Mozart's death.

As Conductor Emeritus of Welsh National Opera, his successes have included Tristan und Isolde, The Yeomen of the Guard, and La Clemenza di Tito (all of which productions were brought to London). He was the principal guest conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, from 1992 to 1995 and of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra from 1993 to 1996. During the same period, he was also principal guest conductor of the San Francisco Opera. From 1998 to 2001 he was the music director of the Orchestra of St.

Luke's. In 2004 he became principal guest conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra. He is also principal guest conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, acknowledging his expertise with Czech music. With the Royal Opera, he has recently conducted productions of Gounod's Roméo et Juliette and Handel's Semele. Mackerras has also had a long association with the Metropolitan Opera and has recently conducted The Makropulos Case, Katya Kabanova and Die Zauberflöte with that company. In August 2008, Mackerras was announced as the new Honorary President of the Edinburgh International Festival Society[2].

He is only the second person to hold this role, after Yehudi Menuhin. As the original part of the largest arts festival in the world, the Edinburgh International Festival has featured performances from Mackerras throughout six decades since his first in 1952. Mackerras's strategy for working with an orchestra is to come prepared. He has said, I believe it's very important to edit orchestral parts explicitly and as thoroughly as possible, so that the musicians can play them without too much rehearsal. For instance, the other day I did all the Schumann symphonies with very little rehearsal at all.

Because the parts were clearly marked, particularly with regard to dynamics, we were able to play them without needing to do that much preliminary work, focusing our attention on the interpretation rather than the technical business of who plays too loud or too soft.[3] [edit]Recordings Mackerras's earliest recordings were for EMI, in the dying days of 78 rpm records, and he has lived to release compact discs in the multi-channel Super Audio CD format. He began in 1952 with the first of his recordings of his own Pineapple Poll ballet, which was issued on twelve sides, and subsequently transferred to LP. Some of his early recording sessions were for Walter Legge, standing in when Otto Klemperer and other eminent conductors were ill.[4] A smaller UK record company, Pye, asked Mackerras to record Handel’s Fireworks Music. ‘We had to do that in the middle of the night, in order to get our twenty-six oboes together.’[4] The recording, issued in 1959, was received with critical acclaim for attempting to reproduce the sound Handel would have heard rather than the smoother orchestral arrangements usually played until then. In the 1960s Mackerras made the first recording of the Italian version of Gluck’s Orfeo.

For DG he conducted Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, and for EMI a ‘new-look’ Messiah, with scholarly texts, small forces and sprightly tempi. He followed that up with Handel’s Saul and Israel in Egypt for DG. In 1986, he conducted the London Symphony Orchestra in the soundtrack to Carroll Ballard's film Nutcracker: The Motion Picture, the first full-length film version of Tchaikovsky's great ballet to be given a major release in theatres. It is performed by Pacific Northwest Ballet and features sets and costumes by Maurice Sendak. Mackerras's recordings of the complete symphonies of Mozart (Telarc), Brahms (Telarc), Beethoven (EMI), and Mahler, as well as the Mozart operas, continue to attract critical acclaim, as do his recordings of the operas of Janáček (Decca, Supraphon, and Chandos), and major works of Handel, Dvořák, Bohuslav Martinů, Richard Strauss, Shostakovich, Sibelius, Donizetti, Elgar, Delius, Walton, Gustav Holst, and Haydn, among many others. For Telarc he has also conducted Gilbert and Sullivan’s Trial by Jury, H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado, and The Yeomen of the Guard.

In collaboration with David Mackie he reconstructed Arthur Sullivan's "lost" cello concerto, conducting its first performance with cellist Julian Lloyd Webber and the London Symphony Orchestra at Barbican Hall, London, in April 1986, and a recording for EMI shortly afterwards.[5] In 1997 Mackerras recorded Le delizie dell'amor, with the soprano Andrea Rost, for Sony Classical. His most recent release for that label was Lucia di Lammermoor with the Hanover Band (S2K 63174). Other recent recordings for Sony Classical include Chopin's two piano concertos with Emanuel Ax (SK 60771) and (SK 63371). He has also recently recorded Dvořák's Rusalka (Decca) and Slavonic Dances (Supraphon), Josef Suk's A Summer Tale (Decca), Mozart's Piano Concertos Nos.

20 and 24 with Alfred Brendel (Philips), and Brahms's two orchestral serenades (Telarc). For Linn Records he recorded a two-SACD set of Mozart's last four symphonies with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in August 2007.[6] [edit]Honours Charles Mackerras was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1974 and was knighted for his services to music in 1979. In 1996 he received the Medal of Merit from the Czech Republic, and in 1997 he was made a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC). In 2003 he was made a Companion of Honour (CH) in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

In 2005, he was presented with the Royal Philharmonic Society Gold Medal and he was also the first recipient of the Queen’s Medal for Music. [edit]References ^ www.cityoperavancouver.com ^ "Edinburgh International Festival Society Announces Sir Charles Mackerras as New Honorary President" (2008). Retrieved on 2008-08-24. ^ David Hurwitz (2000). "A Talk With Sir Charles Mackerras", Classics Today. Retrieved on 2007-04-15. ^ a b Alan Blyth (March 1975).

"Charles Mackerras", The Gramophone, pp. 1,626. ^ David Stone (2002). "D'Oyly Carte Opera Company: Charles Mackerras". The Gilbert and Sullivan Archive.

Retrieved on 2007-06-11. ^ "Entry for Mozart Symphonies 38-41". SA-CD.net. Retrieved on 2008-06-05. Phelan, Nancy (1987). Charles Mackerras: A Musician's Musician.

London: Victor Gollancz. ISBN 0575036206. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..

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