Summary #1
Sir Edward Downes: a life in music

A word from the editor (Noëlle Mann)

Sviatoslav Prokofiev, Valery Gergiev, Sir Edward Downes

"An Incredible country": Prokofiev and America. (Harlow Robinson)
Prokofiev in St Petersburg.
(Larissa Danko)
The inexorable journey towards France (Noëlle Mann)
Listening to Prokofiev: memories from a Soviet classroom.
(Marina Frolova-Walker)
Back in the USSR (Natalia Savkina)

Lina Prokofiev
. (Lady Joan Downes)
Oleg Prokofiev: traces left behind. (Frances Prokofiev)
About the Prokofiev family
(Noëlle Mann)
Little-known facts about people close to Prokofiev. (Sviatoslav Prokofiev)

A friendship in Terioki.
(Serge Prokofiev Jr.)

Live and on disc: the last decade of Prokofiev performances. (David Nice)

Getting it right!

Boosey & Hawkes.

Sir Edward Downes: a life in music. (Noëlle Mann)

Noëlle MANN (From an interview with Sir Edward, 30 May 2000)

   Of all British conductors of his generation, Sir Edward Downes is the foremost proponent of Prokofiev’s music, and of Russian music in general. He performed Prokofiev widely around the world as well as completing the scores of Maddalena and Eugene Onegin, which he was first to perform. His creative relationship with Prokofiev’s music started early and has occupied a major place in his life and career.
   Born in Birmingham, he started the piano and violin when he was five and sang as a boy chorister. At the age of sixteen he won a scholarship to Birmingham University where he studied English and music, and took up the horn. Having graduated at the early age of nineteen, he went on to postgraduate studies at the Royal College of Music in London. There, his professor helped him gain experience as a horn player, sending him to perform with the London Symphony Orchestra, and other major London orchestras. He thus acquired a unique experience of orchestral music, and also started a lifelong involvement with opera. “In 1945, I played in the first performance of Peter Grimes at Sadler’s Wells Theatre and in 1946, in the opening performance of the Royal Opera House after the war. But I soon decided that playing the horn was not enough for me, as I wanted to be a composer and a conductor. At that time there were no conducting courses at all in Britain, so I left London.”
   Edward Downes’ determination to become a conductor helped him win a two year Carnegie scholarship from Aberdeen, to study conducting with Herman Scherchen. Mainly a self-taught musician, Scherchen was a pioneer in terms of repertoire and technique and had devoted his life to modern music. By the time Edward Downes met him, he had become the leading conducting teacher in the world and was much in demand: “Although Scherchen was based in Zurich, he travelled all over the world and for two years, I accompanied him everywhere as his assistant and répétiteur.”
   When Edward Downes returned to England, he was determined to become a conductor. He first worked as a répétiteur with the Carl Rosa Opera, the touring opera company. Soon after, chance came his way in the form of Maria Callas who was coming to Covent Garden for the first time, and who insisted on having an Italian souffleur. At that time, however, there was no prompter at the Royal Opera House but, knowing that Edward Downes had worked in Rome with Scherchen, Covent Garden engaged him: “I joined on the same day as Joan Sutherland and at the end of my first season, I was asked to conduct. My first opera was La Bohème, and I have conducted every season ever since that occasion, which was forty-nine years ago.”   Next