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Music Pages

Sir Charles Mackerras dies, aged 84

15 July 2010, London, UK

Sir Charles Mackerras
Sir Charles Mackerras(Photo: Z Chrapek)

Sir Charles Mackerras has died at the age of 84 following a battle with cancer.

The Australian conductor, who enjoyed a career spanning some 60 years, was recognised internationally for his performances and recordings of opera and orchestral repertoire. His numerous appointments included conductor laureate of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, conductor emeritus at Welsh National Opera, principal guest conductor emeritus at San Francisco Opera, conductor emeritus of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and principal guest conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra.

Speaking about the news, Roy McEwan, managing director of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra said: "We learned this morning with great sadness of the death of Sir Charles Mackerras. Sir Charles was one of the most distinguished conductors of his generation and it has been an enormous privilege for all of us at the SCO to have had such a special relationship with him over the last twenty years or so. Apart from being a great musician, Charles was a man of enormous warmth, wit and personal generosity. For him, the music always came first, which gave him a humility in the way he approached his craft and an integrity in all the work he undertook."

A specialist of the Czech repertoire - especially Janáček - and regarded as one of the foremost interpreters of Mozart, Mackerras conducted in opera houses and concert halls worldwide and remained in high demand right up until the end of his life.

Future plans included making a guest appearance at next month’s BBC Proms and a concert performance of Idomeneo at the Edinburgh Festival later this year – a festival for which he was recently named honorary president.

Sir Charles also had a long-standing relationship with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, conducting 26 operas there in total. A statement released yesterday by the company's music director, Antonio Pappano, said: "Charlie Mackerras’s impact on the development of musical performance practice over the last 60 years has been enormous.  He was a force of nature, a true man of the theatre, who grappled with how to honour a composer’s intentions with the utmost rhythmic flair, drama and enthusiasm."

A full news story and obituary will appear in the September/October issue of Opera Now


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