Title graphic: Encyclopedia Entries
Conductors: 2

Following the Second World War the outstanding British choral conductor was Sir Malcolm Sargent (1895-1967), whose sense of occasion and unfailing panache won him great popularity. He conducted the Royal Choral Society for nearly twenty-five years and the Huddersfield Choral Society for even longer. As the principal conductor of the Proms from 1948 until his death, he could demonstrate his talents as a fluent speaker during his address to the Promenaders on the last night of the Proms each year. Another "Prom hero" was Sir Colin Davis (1927- ), who, as conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra (1967-71), brought a freshness and dynamism to the music of, in particular, Berlioz, most of whose works he recorded, Stravinsky and Tippett, his performance of Tippett's The Midsummer Marriage, at Covent Garden in 1970, acting as a revelation. Two years earlier, David Atherton (1941- ) became the youngest conductor to appear at that house, but his most influential work has been as a promotor of twentieth-century music, directing the London Sinfonietta in many first performances and premiere recordings, for instance, his recording of Tippett's opera, The Ice Break (1991). Sir Simon Rattle (1955- ), too, has given considerable support to contemporary British music, while his association with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (principal conductor since 1979) has led to many recordings of the standard repertoire, in particular works by Mahler, Sibelius and Stravinsky.

Other conductors have specialized in the British "late romantics". Sir Charles Groves (1915-92), following Beecham's death, took over his mantle as a champion of Delius' music, and, early in the Frank Bridge revival, Groves conducted an important recording of Bridge's orchestral works (1976). Bryden Thomson (1928-91) recorded all of Bax's symphonies as did Vernon Handley (1930-2008), who recorded all of Stanford's as well. Richard Hickox (1948-2008), at one time considered a Baroque specialist, latterly produced several notable recordings of British twentieth-century choral music, in particular Elgar's The Apostles (1990) and Britten's War Requiem (1991).