Sir Malcolm Sargent's interest in Gilbert and Sullivan goes back to his school days when, at the age of fourteen, he accompanied rehearsals for an amateur production of "The Gondoliers" at Stamford. On the opening night the conductor was suddenly unable to come, and a member of the orchestra said "Let young Sargent have a go"; this was his first opportunity to conduct Gilbert and Sullivan.
As a young man, when organist at Melton Mowbray Parish Church, he worked on many musical projects in Leicester, where he not only conducted but also produced many of these operas for the amateur societies. In 1926, Rupert D'Oyly Carte was recommended to engage as musical director the brilliant young conductor whose name was fast becoming known to the musical public, and there began the long friendship with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company.
Sir Malcolm conducted for the 1926 and 1927 seasons, and subsequently in 1929 when the Savoy Theatre was rebuilt, in 1951 for the Festival of Britain season, in 1961 at the end of the copyright, and again in 1963. For many years he conducted the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company when they recorded for H.M.V., and he returned to join forces with the Company in their Decca recordings of "The Yeomen of the Guard" and "Princess Ida"
His talks on Gilbert and Sullivan on the radio were always been infectious. The secret of his youth and energy was surely his enormous capacity for enjoying life, work, and pleasure. Those who were fortunate enough to work with him realise his tremendous capacity for first-class organisation; never a moment was wasted at his rehearsals, and at the end of either a rehearsal or a performance one felt that one had been doing some-thing really worth while.
It is interesting to note that the Gilbert and Sullivan Promenade Concerts that Sir Malcolm conducted each year were amongst the best-attended in each season.Sir Malcolm died of cancer in October 1967.
G & S Recordings
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