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Biography

Sir Thomas Beecham, 2nd Baronet, CH (29 April 1879 – 8 March 1961) was a British conductor and impresario. From the early twentieth century until his death, Beecham was a major influence on the musical life of Britain and, according to Neville Cardus, was the first British conductor to have a regular international career.

From a wealthy industrial family, Beecham used the money at his disposal to transform the operatic scene in England from the 1910s until the start of World War II, staging seasons at Covent Garden, Drury Lane and His Majesty's Theatre with international stars, his own hand-picked orchestra and a wide range of repertoire.

In the concert hall, London still has two orchestras founded by Beecham: the London Philharmonic and the Royal Philharmonic. He also maintained close links with the Liverpool Philharmonic and Hallé Orchestras in his native county of Lancashire. His repertoire was eclectic, sometimes favouring lesser-known composers over famous ones. His specialities included composers whose works were rarely played in Britain before Beecham became their advocate, such as Frederick Delius and Hector Berlioz.

He was known for his wit, and many "Beecham stories" are still told nearly fifty years after his death.

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