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Sir Adrian Boult (1889-1983) was one of the greatest English conductors. He had a long association with the BBC, as director of music, and, more famously, as the permanent conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. When forced to retire from the BBC at sixty (the BBC’s retirement age) in 1949, Boult’s career entered a long, productive Indian Summer. He was the principal conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra for six years, he conducted the music for the 1953 Coronation and he recorded prolifically, his final recording being in 1978 when he was eighty-nine.
Sir Adrian’s conducting and recording repertoire was formidable but he will be forever associated with English music. He conducted the first performance of Holst’s suite ‘The Planets’. Elgar said to him in 1920, ‘I feel that my reputation in the future is safe in your hands’. His recordings of Butterworth, Elgar, Holst, Parry and Vaughan Williams, where not definitive, still provide a benchmark.
It is fitting this biography is written by Michael Kennedy for, through his extensive writings, he has made a comparable contribution to the cause of English music. This biography, for which Michael Kennedy had unrestricted access to Sir Adrian’s diaries, notebooks and a large number of letters, was first published in 1987.
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