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Edward Downes

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Sir Edward Downes (1924-2009) – English conductor, active mainly in the field of opera. He began his career in 1952 as an assistant to Rafael Kubelik in Covent Garden, with which he associated himself for many years, leading 950 stage shows in total. He was a great admirer of Verdi, and conducted almost all of his operas. From 1970 he filled the function of musical director to the Australian Opera, and in the 1973 opening of the Sydney Opera House he conducted the Australian premiere of Prokofiev’s War and Peace. He also directed the BBC Philharmonic, with which he had particularly close working relation, and the Dutch Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. He popularized the output of British composers, such as George Lloyd, Peter Maxwell Davies, and Malcolm Arnold.

On October 14, 1970, in London, Edward Downes conducted the world premiere of Witold Lutosławski’s Cello Concerto with Mstislav Rostropovitch, the composition’s dedicatee, and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. The concert was given at the Royal Festival Hall, and in the following days was repeated in Bournemouth and Exeter.

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