Kenneth Alwyn

British conductor, composer and radio presenter Kenneth Alwyn was born Kenneth Alwyn Wetherell in Croydon on 28 July 1925. He studied at London's Royal Academy of Music after World War II - organ, singing and viola with C H Trevor. He won the Manns Memorial Prize for conducting. He founded the RAM Madrigal Choir and was opera coach and sub-professor of organ.

After working briefly in Singapore and New Zealand, he conducted at Sadler's Wells Theatre Ballet - now Birmingham Royal Ballet - from 1952. He moved to the Royal Ballet in 1957, taking over the original production of The Prince of the Pagodas from its composer, Benjamin Britten, and also working alongside Ernest Ansermet, Arthur Bliss, Hans Werner Henze, Malcolm Sargent and William Walton.

He toured Europe, the Far East, North America and South Africa as a conductor. As principal conductor of Tokyo's Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, he introduced various British works to Japanese audiences, including Gustav Holst's The Planets. He was musical director for the first productions of many British and Broadway musicals.

His recorded legacy includes Decca's first stereo recording of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, which used the sound of slowed-down gunshots to sound like cannons firing.

Alwyn had a long association with the BBC as conductor and presenter, particularly of light music, He conducted all of the corporation's orchestras and played his part in an educational project to teach music in schools through TV.

Kenneth Alwyn passed away on 10 December (or 11 December, according to some sources) 2020, aged ninety-five.


A selection of articles about Kenneth Alwyn

CD Spotlight. Welcome back Lord Berners - Gerald Fenech listens to two stage works by an enigmatic English composer. 'Soloists and chorus deliver some flawless singing, and their great attention to the text creates a sense of reverential homage to the sacred.'

CD Spotlight. Hugely Influential - Music by Richard Addinsell, heard by Gerald Fenech. '... absolutely enthralling, revelatory and consistently vibrant.'

Classical music news - December 2020 Obituaries - Our summary of those the classical music world has lost this month