Opera Scotland

Bryan Balkwill Suggest updates

Born London, 2 July 1922.

Died Beaconsfield, 25 February 2007.

English conductor.

Bryan Balkwill studied at the Royal Academy of Music then became repetiteur for the New London Opera Company's 1947 season at the Cambridge Theatre. His debut as a conductor was with them in a performance of Rigoletto, in a production directed by Carl Ebert.

The connection with Ebert led to his employment as a repetiteur at Glyndebourne from 1950. During the next decade he worked there as chorus master and assistant conductor. As assistant to Vittorio Gui he worked particularly on the series of Rossini revivals.

He was principal conductor of the Wexford Festival from 1953 to 1959, during which time there was a notable revival of Rossini's Thieving Magpie (with Janet Baker as Pippo). During this period he also worked extensively with Sir Thomas Beecham.

He made his first appearance at Covent Garden conducting for the visit of American Ballet Theatre in 1953, and became resident conductor there in 1959. Between then and 1965 he led over 200 performances of a wide repertoire.

He worked with the English Opera Group, conducting Albert Herring and A Midsummer Night's Dream on its 1964 visit to the Soviet Union. He was music director of Welsh National Opera from 1963 to 1967.

His first appearance at Sadler's Wells came in 1957, conducting Don Pasquale. He was joint music director from 1966 to 1969 and conducted a varied repertoire in London and on tour, including several Rossini productions such as Count Ory and The Thieving Magpie. He continued to conduct regularly after the move to the Coliseum, his repertoire including The Force of Destiny, Manon and Der Rosenkavalier. At Sadler's Wells he conducted the premiere of A Penny for a Song (Bennett 1967).

In the 1970s he worked extensively with Canadian companies (Montreal, Edmonton and Vancouver). From 1979 to 1992 he taught at the University Music School at Bloomington, Indiana.

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