Joseph Horovitz at 90

Joseph Horovitz at 90
BBC Radio 3’s 'In Tune' programme is broadcasting a live interview with Joseph Horovitz on his 90th birthday on 26 May. Later that day Austrian Radio ORF will present a two-hour programme about his life and works, focusing in part on his String Quartet No 5 and the Clarinet Sonatina. His birthday is also being marked on the day by Bayerischer Rundfunk’s classical music channel with a one-hour programme also covering his life and music.

On 27 June his Clarinet Sonatina is being broadcast in the BBC Radio 3 Lunchtime Concert from Wigmore Hall, played by Daniel Ottensamer with pianist Christopher Traxler. The Sonatina, premiered at the Wigmore Hall in 1981 by Gervase de Peyer and Gwenneth Pryor, has become a standard repertoire work with over thirty recordings. The most recent is by Jonathan Parkin and Sebastian Stanley, who are performing it at St-Martin-in-the-Fields on 10 June.

The Park Lane Group is celebrating Horovitz’s birthday at London’s Wigmore Hall on 13 June with a performance of his scena Lady Macbeth, sung by soprano Susanna Fairbairn with pianist Matthew Schellhorn. Other concerts include Horovitz’s oratorio Samson, composed for a rare combination of chorus and brass band, which will be performed at the Cadogan Hall on July 9 by the Addison Singers and East London Brass.

International performances of his works include two recent productions of his one-act opera Gentleman’s Island in Sydney and Singapore, and his ever-popular Captain Noah and his Floating Zoo has performances this summer in UK, Sweden, Germany, New Zealand, and USA.

Joseph Horovitz was born in Vienna in 1926 and emigrated to England in 1938. He studied music at New College, Oxford, with Gordon Jacob at the Royal College of Music where he won the Farrar Prize, and for a further year with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. The Festival of Britain in 1951 brought him to London as conductor of ballet and concerts at the Festival Amphitheatre. He then held positions as conductor to the Ballet Russes, associate director of the Intimate Opera Company, on the music staff at Glyndebourne, and as guest composer at the Tanglewood Festival, USA.

His compositions number sixteen ballets, nine concertos, two one-act operas, chamber music, works for brass band, television and radio, and a number of choral cantatas - most famously Captain Noah and His Floating Zoo. Since 1961 he has taught at the Royal College of Music, where he is now a Fellow. He has also won two Ivor Novello Awards, and in 1996 he was awarded the Gold Order of Merit of the City of Vienna. In 2007 he was awarded the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Arts First Class, and was made an honorary member of the Austrian Composers’ Society. The Worshipful Company of Musicians awarded him the Cobbett Medal in 2008 for services to chamber music.

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