Thomas Beecham

Thomas Beecham

An Obsession with Music

John Lucas


Hardback out of stock

eBook for Handhelds

Boydell Press



Drawing on significant new research, this life of one of Britain's most influential musicians corrects many of the myths surrounding the often controversial Thomas Beecham.
Thomas Beecham was one of Britain's greatest conductors of orchestral music and opera as well as an entrepreneur and impresario of exceptional energy and brilliant wit. This new life places him - musically, politically and socially - in the troubled times in which he lived and corrects the stories and myths, many of them Beecham's own making, that have grown up around this uniquely gifted and controversial figure.
Drawing upon extensive research, Lucas presents new material on his early years, his complicated private life, his father's catastrophic attempt to buy a large part of Covent Garden - which brought the family to its knees financially - and the orchestras and opera companies that Beecham founded. New light is shed on his visits to Nazi Germany and his view of its leaders, as well as the much misunderstood and previously unchronicled years of the Second World War, which he spent in Australia and America.
Thomas Beecham: An Obsession with Music will change the way we view this complex personality and remain the standard biography for years to come.
JOHN LUCAS was on the staff of the Observer for 25 years, completed Peter Heyworth's monumental biography of Otto Klemperer, wrote the biography of Reginald Goodall, and is responsible for the current entries on Beecham and Klemperer in the New Grove.

BEECHAM IN REHEARSAL: This book will include a full-length CD of Beecham rehearsing the RPO. It features music by Haydn, Mozart, Handel, Liszt and a remarkable movement from Beethoven's 5th Symphony.


40 black and white illustrations
416 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Paperback, 9781843836261, February 2011
Hardback, 9781843834021, September 2008
eBook for Handhelds, 9781782043997, September 2008
Boydell Press
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Table of Contents

The Birth of the Pill
The Mecca of Globules
Orchestral Fireworks
Elektra and the Baptist
Guilty - or Not Guilty?
Towards the Abyss
Battle for Music
A Mountain of Debts
The Bull of Bashan
The Twopenny Opera
'Just Listen to This'
The Shadows Lengthen
Adventures in Australia
Enter Miss Humby
Divorce in Boise


Thomas Beecham: An Obsession with Music changes the way we view this complex personality and will remain the standard biography for years to come. For anyone at all interested in a genuine human enigma and who cares about British music, I cannot recommend it highly enough. THE LIGHT MUSIC SOCIETY MAGAZINE

This is the best biography of a musician I have read for a very long time... one which all genuine music lovers should possess. INTERNATIONAL RECORD REVIEW

Beecham's insensitivities... have to be seen in the context of his kindnesses, which were numerous and generous. Lucas holds the two in balance, which is an asset of his enthralling book. GLASGOW HERALD

John Lucas's brimming biography... reminds us just how much... we owe him. SUNDAY TIMES

Lucas has excelled himself: this is in every way a magnificent achievement. CLASSIC FM MAGAZINR

Impeccably researched... Lucas is excellent on the visits to Australia and America. SPECTATOR

[Beecham's] rackety private life makes for many an entertaining page in... [this] thorough study of a man who changed the face of British music for ever. MAIL ON SUNDAY

Ein faszinierendes Buch... unbedingt empfehlenswert. ORPHEUS

Not only a very good biography, it is, in the circumstances, an extraordinarily concise one. THE OLDIE

[Beecham] meets his match in his engaging and erudite biographer. OPERA

Lucas' thorough, exhaustive and often highly amusing biography will... re-establish Beecham as one of the foremost musical personalities of the last hundred years. CLASSICAL MUSIC

Remarkably thorough... A good read... and a solidly informative biography. BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE

Lucas [expands upon Beecham's international reputation] with the sort of balanced judgments and care for detail that bring fresh perspective. FINANCIAL TIMES

A fully comprehensive chronicle of... an extraordinary life... in a wealth of mesmerising detail, whole swathes of which have previously been completely unknown. CLASSIC RECORD COLLECTOR

A masterly combination of elegantly presented research and keen insight... a biography that is in every way worthy of him. WAGNER JOURNAL

A detailed, well-written, and generous biography and it will stand for some time. FANFARE

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