John Barbirolli performs Schumann's Cello Concerto

Hallé Orchestra, André Navarra

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André Navarra — Cellist

John Barbirolli — Conductor

Hallé Orchestra

Program notes

This video presents a comprehensive overview of the artistry of the renowned conductor John Barbirolli, showcasing his work with the Hallé Orchestra.

Barbirolli was born in London in 1899 to an Italian father and a French mother. He was raised in England and received his musical training at Trinity College in London and the Royal Academy of Music. He is also a product of the musical world, as his father and grandfather were violinists in the Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala in Milan. They were present at the premiere of Verdi's Othello, held that very night.

At an early age, Barbirolli began studying the violin, which he subsequently exchanged for the cello. He went on to become a renowned soloist in this instrument. After giving recitals and performing with various orchestras, he established his own chamber orchestra with the intention of fulfilling his lifelong ambition of becoming a conductor. He soon became a conductor in different opera houses, where he demonstrated remarkable skill in the lyrical repertoire. He then proceeded to learn how to conduct symphonic orchestras such as the Scottish Orchestra or the London Symphony Orchestra, before attaining the rank of conductor: in 1936, he was chosen to succeed Arturo Toscanini at the head of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

In 1942, during his tenure as director of the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester, England, he was confronted with the challenge of transforming a struggling ensemble into one of the United Kingdom's most distinguished orchestras. Despite the challenging circumstances, he succeeded in elevating the Hallé to a position of prominence within the British musical landscape.

Following the performance of Berlioz's Corsair Overture, French cellist André Navarra takes the stage. He is a renowned musician with an impressive international career. Barbirolli and Navarra then perform Schumann's Cello Concerto in A Minor, which they perform as two accomplished musicians who share a passion for the cello. Barbirolli, accustomed to the lyrical art, allows Navarra's cello to sing in a luminous manner, eliciting a rich tapestry of sounds from his orchestra. The Scherzo Capriccioso by Dvořák, characterized by a lively, quick tempo, then follows.




  • - Le Corsaire, Op. 21, overture for orchestra by Hector Berlioz, interpreted by John Barbirolli, BBC archive, 1962
  • - Cello concerto in Am, Op. 129 by Robert Schumann, interpreted by John Barbirolli and André Navarra, BBC archive, 1962
  • - Scherzo Capriccioso, Op. 66 by Antonín Dvorák, interpreted by John Barbirolli, BBC archive, 1962

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