Thursday, September 24, 2009

Leonard Salzedo

Leonard Salzedo was a Spanish (some would say English) violinist, conductor, and composer born (in London) on September 24, 1921 (Heifetz was 20 years old.) He is remembered for having led very successful dual careers as a violinist and composer; for his many ballet scores; and for his film score to the movie The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958.) Salzedo first studied at the Royal College of Music in London. While still a student, he won the Cobbett Prize for his First String Quartet and was commissioned to write his first ballet score (The Fugitive) for the Ballet Rambert (now the Rambert Dance Company, whose founder, Marie Rambert danced in the first performances of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring.) This was the first of 17 ballet scores which he composed. Between 1946 and 1947, Salzedo wrote four ballets for the Ballet Negres dance company, of which he and his wife were members. From 1947 to 1950 he played in the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and then for sixteen years (1950-1966) in the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. While in the Royal Philharmonic, he was also Thomas Beecham’s assistant – it was Beecham who premiered Salzedo’s First Symphony in 1952. His most successful ballet score, The Witch Boy, came in 1956. It has been performed all over the world and has enjoyed several revivals since its premiere. In 1964, Salzedo joined the London Soloists Ensemble - he toured Europe with them and recorded one of his works, Concerto Fervido with this ensemble as well. In 1967, Salzedo gave up playing altogether to become Musical Director of Ballet Rambert (until 1972.) After that, he was appointed principal conductor with the Scottish Ballet, and from 1982 until 1986 he was Music Director of London City Ballet, for whom he re-orchestrated classical ballet scores for smaller orchestra. After 1986, he devoted himself full-time to composition. In spite of his continuous activities as a performer, Salzedo was extremely prolific, writing more than 160 compositions, including 10 String Quartets, two symphonies, 17 ballets, and many other works. Many of these works have been recorded on various labels and are easily available. Salzedo died on May 6, 2000, at age 78.

1 comment:

  1. I had an interesting correspondence with Salzedo's daughter (soon after I posted this blog) who pointed out that her father was actually a Sephardic Jew, neither English or Spanish. Though I already knew that, I thanked her for the information. I did share one thing with her that I found interesting and that was that her father bore an uncanny resemblance to my older brother - glasses and all.