Sir Malcolm Sargent, one of the world's greatest conductors, died at London home today (Tuesday).?
Sir Malcolm Sargent, one of the world's greatest conductors, died at London home today (Tuesday). He was 72.
Sir Malcolm had been ill for several months. he had a gall-bladder operation last August and missed conducting London's popular "Promenade" concert series this summer. He had been conductor for 20 previous "Prom" seasons. But he forced himself to attend the last night of this season's Concerts and he received the loudest ovation of his career.
Sir Malcolm addressed the audience at what was to be his past public appearance.
Sir Malcolm was a cultural hero to millions of young music-lovers. They called him "Flash Harry" because of his immaculate appearance. The carnation that Sir Malcolm wore in his buttonhole became his trade mark. The story goes that he wore it in memory of an orphan boy who, when dying at the age of 17, asked that a carnation be sent to Sir Malcolm for all public appearances in London. He was loved by people of all ages but the teenagers worshipped him as their own. Then queued night and day to see him conduct the "Prom" concerns at London's Albert Hall. Scenes at the concerts often rivalled those for top pop artists like the Beatles.
During the second world war, Sir Malcolm was on the rostrum in a Northern English town when air raid sirens sounded. He refused to take cover, raised his baton and the orchestra started playing Beethoven's Fifth symphony.
Born in Leicestershire in 1896, he showed an early aptitude for music and at the age of 13, he could play the complete piano score of Handel's Messiah. After the second world war the famous British conductor, Sir Henry Wood, advised him to concentrate on conducting. Sir Malcolm followed his advice and in the years that followed, he became Britain's best known and most-travelled conductor. He toured the United States, South America, Australia, South Africa and many European and Asian countries. Sir Malcolm was due to go to the United States at the end of this month to conduct the New York Philharmonic orchestra.