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John Pritchard

John Pritchard (Sir)


(5 February 1921 – 5 December 1989)


Sir John Michael Pritchard CBE (5 February 1921 – 5 December 1989) was an English conductor best known for his interpretations of Mozart operas and for his support of contemporary music.

His father, was a violinist with the London Symphony Orchestra. As a young man, he studied violin, piano, and conducting in Italy.

After a 9 year stint at the helm of the semi-professional Derby String Orchestra he joined the music staff of Glyndebourne Festival Opera in 1947 and was appointed their chorus master in 1949. He remained associated with Glyndebourne for most of his career, and became their principal conductor in 1968 and then their musical director in 1969 to 1978.

Glyndebourne aside, John Pritchard performed with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, in Edinburgh in 1952. He made his début at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in 1951 and then the Vienna State Opera in 1952.

While at Glyndebourne he conducted Mozart's "Idomeneo" and Richard Strauss's "Ariadne auf Naxos" at the Edinburgh festivals and Rossini's "La Cenerentola" at the Berlin Festival, a performance that was much praised.

In 1957, he was appointed principal conductor of the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and it is here where he launched the Musica Viva series showcasing the contemporary music he so admired.

From there he was appointed as musical director of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. As a freelancing conductor he later conducted concerts in Berlin, Leipzig, Dresden, and opera in Buenos Aires, Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Salzburg, Florence, and Munich.

In 1973 he was the first conductor to lead the London Philharmonic in a tour of China—the first visit by a Western orchestra.

Later permanent posts included; chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, musical director of the Cologne Opera, The Théâtre de la Monnaie, Brussels, and the San Francisco Opera where he died in Daly City while preparing Wagner's Ring Cycle in 1986 for the San Fransisco Opera.

John Pritchard was knighted in 1983.

His notable recording of Lucia Di Lammermoor with Joan Sutherland is still available today on CD.

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