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Sir Julius Benedict (1804–1885) by Lock & Whitfield, pubd 1881 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Benedict, Sir Julius (1804–1885), conductor and composer, was born at Stuttgart, Germany, on 27 November 1804 (in some nineteenth-century reference works the date was given incorrectly as 24 December 1804), the son of Moses Benedict, a rich German Jewish banker. At the Stuttgart Gymnasium...

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Harry Blech (1909–1999) by Elliott & Fry, 1958 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Blech, Harry [formerly Hirsch] (1909–1999), conductor and violinist, was born in the East End of London in June 1909, the son of Henri Blech, provisions merchant and commercial traveller, and his wife, Sophie Stock. Shortly after he was born his father went to ...

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Cowen, Sir Frederic Hymen [Hyman Frederick] (1852–1935), conductor and composer, was born on 29 January 1852 in Kingston, Jamaica, the younger son of Frederick Augustus Cowen (d. 1876) and his wife, Emily, the second daughter of James Davis of Kingston. Back in ...

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Goehr, Walter (1903–1960), composer and conductor, was born on 28 May 1903 in Berlin, the elder of the two sons of Julius Goehr (1872–1948), factory owner, and his wife, Thekla Mendelsohn (d. 1931). His parents were both Jewish. His early musical talent showed itself in the fact that, even preceding his formal education in the composition class of ...

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Goldschmidt, Berthold (1903–1996), composer and conductor, was born on 18 January 1903 at Steinstrasse 12, Hamburg, Germany, the second of the five children (three died in infancy) of Adolf Michael Goldschmidt (1864–1937), merchant, and his wife, Henriette, née Wiesner (1873–1953). His was a cultured, musical Jewish family: his mother was an amateur soprano, his father a lover of opera who had attended all ...

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Sir George Henschel (1850–1934) by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, 1879 Christie's Images Ltd. (2004)

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Henschel, Sir George [formerly Isidor Georg] (1850–1934), singer and conductor, was born on 18 February 1850 in Breslau, Silesia, the only son of Polish Jews, Moritz Jacob Henschel, a wool and coal merchant, and his second wife, Henriette, the daughter of Joseph Frankenstein...

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Norman René Del Mar (1919–1994) by Derek Allen, 1954 © Derek Allen; collection National Portrait Gallery, London

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Mar, Norman René Del (1919–1994), conductor and writer on music, was born on 31 July 1919 at 12 Kidderpore Gardens, London, the youngest of the three sons of Max Levi (1876–1963), a brush manufacturer, and his wife, Vera, née Del Mar (1891–1964). Max...

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Yehudi Menuhin, Baron Menuhin (1916–1999) by Myfanwy Pavelic, 1982 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Menuhin, Yehudi, Baron Menuhin (1916–1999), violinist and conductor, was born on 22 April 1916 at the Mount Lebanon Hospital in the Bronx district of New York city, the only son and first among the three children of Moshe Menuhin (1893–1982), teacher, and his wife, ...

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Ronald, Sir Landon (1873–1938), conductor and composer, was born on 7 June 1873 at 19 Lancaster Road, Kensington, London, the second son of Henry Russell (1812?–1900), singer, song writer, and merchant, and his common-law wife, Emma Ronald (1844–1922), also known as Hannah de Lara...

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Sir Landon Ronald (1873–1938) by Bassano, 1920 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Solti, Sir Georg (1912–1997), conductor, was born György Stern in Vérmezö utca, in the Buda district of Budapest, on 21 October 1912, the younger of the two children of Moricz (later Móric) Stern, a businessman originally from Balatonfökajár in southern Hungary, and his wife, ...

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Sir Georg Solti (1912–1997) by Anne-Katrin Purkiss, 1987 © Anne-Katrin Purkiss; collection National Portrait Gallery, London

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Tauský, Vilém (1910–2004), conductor and composer, was born in Přerov, Moravia, on 20 July 1910, the younger son and youngest of four children of Emil Tauský, a doctor caring for railway employees, and his Vienna-born wife, Josefine, née Ascher (d. 1937)...

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Vilém Tauský (1910–2004) by Derek Allen, 1952 © Derek Allen; collection National Portrait Gallery, London

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Williams, Charles [formerly Isaac Cozerbreit] (1893–1978), composer and conductor, was born Isaac Cozerbreit on 8 May 1893 at 16 Lower Chapman Street, Shadwell, east London, the son of Wolf Cozerbreit, vocalist, and his wife, Sarah Boys. The father had used the name ...