R.I.P. Charles Mackerras

Sir Charles Mackerras
Sir Charles Mackerras

I’m not sure how I missed this, but the New York Times published an obituary for the great conductor (Australian/British, but born in the U.S.) Sir Charles Mackerras, who died in London on July 14, 2010, at the age of 84.  He was going strong right up to his death, with fine recordings of Mozart symphonies for the company Linn Records.

Charles Mackerras conducted everything, from Gilbert and Sullivan to Mozart to Britten, but it is probably his brilliant championing of the works of Leoš Janáček that will be his greatest legacy.  He promoted them when they were still exotic.  He made recordings of them in the 1970s and are still acknowledged as authoritative.  In recent years he has re-recorded several of them in English translation from performances at English National Opera. I am especially fond of the English version of The Makropulos Case with Cheryl Barker in the title role.  He had also conducted an English-language version of Richard Strauss’s shocker Salome.

There are few conductors that have matched the breadth of his repertoire and the depth and tastefulness of his interpretations.  His musicianship will be missed.

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