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- Albert Coates, Basil Cameron, Maurice Miles, Sir Adrian Boult -


   LINKS to other pages in this site and to other sites in the Travelling Days series:

Autographs Home Page:      Bedford 1939 onwards:      BBC in Bedford:
BBC Symphony Orchestra Personalities:      Bedford Miscellany:       Bedford School (1940s):
Composers:      Conductors Part 2:       David Gentleman:      Glenn Miller:       Instrumentalists:
Personalities of the 1940s:       Pianists:       The RAEC in Cornwall:
Religion and Drama:       Singers:       BBC in Cornwall 1949:      Colin Day's List-O-Links:
America West Home Page:      Guest Book:

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ALBERT COATES was born in St. Petersburg, Russia in April 1882, the son of English parents. Coates entered the Leipzig Conservatorium in 1902 to study cello and piano. While at the conservatorium he was greatly inspired by the famous conductor Nikisch.

    At the end of his training Coates started his professional career as a conductor first in Elberfeld then in Dresden and later in Mannheim. He became principal conductor at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg and stayed there for five years before becoming taking up a post at Covent Garden in 1914.

    As a visiting conductor he was much in demand throughout the world between the two world wars but often returned to Covent Garden for Sir Thomas Beecham's opera seasons. He conducted the BBC orchestras on a regular basis in the 1930s and 40s and in 1946 made his home in South Africa.AutographCoates1.jpg - 30851 Bytes

    Coates wrote two operas, 'Samuel Pepys' and 'Pickwick'. The latter was the first opera to be seen on television - several sections of it were shown in November 1936 by the BBC's recently opened TV service. He died in Milnerton, near Cape Town, on 11 December 1953.


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BASIL CAMERON was born in 1884. His early conducting career took him to orchestras in Torquay, Harrogate and Hastings and, during the 1930s, to America. He became a popular conductor at the Promenade Concerts and was appointed as an Assistant Conductor under Henry Wood in 1940. Although not the extrovert, energetic conductor like Beecham he could nevertheless conjure up exciting and memorable performances much to the delight of the Promenaders. He also conducted the BBC Symphony Orchestra on many other occasions when it was stationed in Bedford during the war. Together with Sir Malcolm Sargent and Sir John Barbirolli, Basil Cameron regularly appeared in ‘The Conductor Speaks’, a weekly television programme. He later worked with most of the famous London and provincial orchestras and recorded with them on numerous occasions. AutographCameron.jpg - 31101 BytesIn 1964 he conducted the London Symphony Orchestra in his favourite symphony, the Brahms 4th, at his final concert (also the occasion of his 80th birthday) for the Proms. Also included in the programme was a Mozart Horn Concerto and Stravinsky's 'Symphony of Psalms'. Basil Cameron died in 1975 at the age of 91.


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MAURICE MILES won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music in London where he came under under the tutellage of conductors such as Sir Henry Wood and Julius Harrison. He later conducted orchestras throughout the world including the BBC orchestras while they were stationed in Bedford.

    The Promenade Concerts, choral festivals and schools' concerts came within his conducting ambit and he also delighted in running classes in conducting at the Royal Academy of Music and at the Royal Military School of Music. In 1977 he produced a guide to conducting (published by Novello) with the title 'Are you beating Two or Four?' - and subtitled 'Some hints to help you make up your mind'!


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SIR ADRIAN BOULT was born in Chester, England on 8 April 1889. He was educated at Westminster School and at Christ Church, Oxford.

    He continued his training in Leipzig under Max Reger and was able there to observe the work of the conductor Arthur Nikisch, which greatly influenced Boult’s later career. Back in Britain, he gained his D.Mus. and became a member of the staff at Covent Garden. In 1919 he conducted the first performance of part 'The Planets' by Gustav Holst a work with which he became famously associated.

    In 1924 Boult became the director of the Birmingham Festival Chorus and the City of Birmingham Symphonic Orchestra. He became conductor and first permanent music director of the BBC Symphony Orchestra in 1930, a post that brought him international fame and which he held until 1950. During his twenty years with the BBC orchestra, he visited many venues in Britain, Europe and America (see here the report on the concert held in Truro Cathedral in 1949). In 1936 he conducted the specially formed orchestra at the coronation of George VI in Westminster Abbey.   He was knighted in 1937. From 1942 to 1950 he was the deputy director of the Promenade Concerts.

    During the war Sir Adrian Boult became a familiar figure in Bedford, where he conducted many concerts which were transmitted by the BBC from the Corn Exchange and Bedford School.   From 1950 to 1957 he was the director of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, following which he returned to conducting the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. He taught at the Royal College of Music from 1962 to 1966. Boult was made a Companion of Honour (CH) in 1969. In 1979 he retired fully from conducting. Sir Adrian wrote an autobiography, 'My Own Trumpet', which was published in 1973, and two textbooks on conducting.

    Sir Adrian Boult was a prominent figure in English music and a strong advocate of contemporary music, both British and European.   His recordings, with various orchestras, of the works of Elgar, Holst and Vaughan Williams still hold an important place in the catalogues. Ralph Vaughan Williams' 'Job - a Masque for Dancing', Malcolm Williamson's Concerto for organ and orchestra and Herbert Howells' Concerto for strings are all dedicated to him.

    What is deemed by many to be the definitive version of Elgar’s Second Symphony was recorded with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in the Great Hall of Bedford School on 3,4 and 25 August 1944 under Walter Legge’s supervision.
(The author of this website was fortunate to be present while this recording was being made and was allowed to visit the temporary recording 'studio' in a classroom on the first floor in the east end of the school building!)
The recording on 78rpm discs was transferred first to LP and then to CD (Beaulah 5PD15) several years ago. The CD is still available. Legge had earlier supervised a recording of Holst’s Planets Suite in the Corn Exchange, Bedford on 2-5 January 1945.

    Sir Adrian died on 22 February 1983.

See also: Sir Adrian Boult in Bedford (click here) and Sir Adrian Boult in Truro (click here).



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