Sir Charles Groves


Sir Charles Groves ( 1915-1992) studied piano and organ at the RCM. In 1937, while still a student, he accompanied choral rehearsals of Brahms’s German Requiem under Toscanini; the following year he joined the BBC as a chorus master. In 1944 he became conductor of the BBC Northern Orchestra, a post he held until 1951, when he he left to become musical director of the Bournemouth Municipal Orchestra (Bournemouth SO from 1954). In 1961 he became musical director of the Welsh National Opera, then in 1963 was appointed musical director of the Royal Liverpool PO. From 1967 he combined that position with associate conductorship of the RPO, whom he led on a tour of the USA.

From 1978 he worked as a guest conductor with many orchestras in venues around the world. Groves achieved a high reputation as a devoted traditional conductor of a wide repertory, refusing to concentrate on any particular sub-genre. He was particularly noted for his mastery of large-scale works, and was the first English conductor to direct a complete cycle of Mahler symphonies.

Like SIr Adrian Boult, he supported British composers and made many authoritative recordings, particularly of works by Delius, Vaughan Williams, Sullivan, Jones and Mathias. Groves was twice made president of the ISM, and was president of the National Federation of Music Societies and the National Youth Orchestra. He was knighted in 1973.