Pritchard, John

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Pritchard, John Gender: M
Pritchard, John Stanley Frederick Michael
born on 5 December 1918 at 04:00 (= 04:00 AM )
Place London, England, 51n30, 0w10
Timezone GMT h0w (is standard time)
Data source
Quoted BC/BR
Rodden Rating AA
Collector: Rodden
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_sagcol.18.gif 12°13' s_mo.18.gif s_sagcol.18.gif 29°38 Asc.s_scocol.18.gif 00°12'


British conductor, one of the most prominent of Britain's post-WW II orchestral icons and an exemplar of the increasingly international scope of the range of skills required in his position. By the 1980s, Sir Pritchard was noted more for his high competence than for electrifying interpretation. His an ever-broadening repertory, focused on four important posts, all of which required considerable attention (Cologne Opera, Belgian Opera Nationale, BBC Symphony Orchestra, and the San Francisco Opera) even as he dealt with guest engagements elsewhere.

Pritchard was born to a family in which music was a constant. His father was a violinist and gave his son his first musical instruction. Later, the youth traveled to Italy to study conducting, viola, and piano (the latter critical

to the progress he made from repertoire to orchestra director). He served in WW II, but was released due to poor health. After resuming his musical activities as conductor of the semi-professional Derby String Orchestra

between 1943 and 1945, he was engaged by the 1947 Glyndebourne Festival prior to its July through September performances at the Edinburgh Festival that year. The following year, Pritchard was promoted from coaching duties to chorus master and later, assistant to conductor Fritz Busch. Pritchard's podium debut came in 1951 when he took over a performance from the ailing Busch. Indeed, Busch's death in September 1951, opened the way to Pritchard's career as a conductor. Within the decade, he was leading almost as many performances as those of Glyndebourne mainstay Vittorio Gui.

In 1952, Glyndebourne gave Pritchard sole responsibility for Mozart's Idomeneo and in 1953, the young conductor enjoyed his first unqualified success with Ariadne auf Naxos, remarkable also for the superb performance

of Sena Jurinac. Pritchard's close association with Glyndebourne extended through more than three decades, culminating with his musical directorship from 1969 to 1978.

Meanwhile, Pritchard had undertaken engagements abroad, most notably with the Vienna Staatsoper during the 1951 - 1952 season. Autumn 1952 found him at Covent Garden for his first appearance there, and in 1953, he made his American conducting debut with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. From 1957 to 1963, he was music director of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, a

position which overlapped his directorship of the London Philharmonic Orchestra (1962 - 1966). International tours encompassing several countries included performances in 1966 at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires.

Pritchard's American opera debut came with Chicago's Lyric Opera in 1969. His first Metropolitan Opera appearance, conducting Cosl fan Tutte in October 1971, was followed three years later by five successive seasons

leading works as diverse as Peter Grimes and Thaïs. In 1973, he was made music director of England's venerable Huddersfield Choral Society. Appointment to the position of principal conductor at the Cologne Opera in 1978 began the process that eventually found him occupying four major positions. In 1981, he also became music director at the Monnaie in Brussels, in 1982 the music director of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and in 1986 the music director at the San Francisco Opera. In the American city, he was well-liked by musicians and audiences alike. At the time of his death, 12/05/1989 in San Francisco, CA, he was preparing to conduct an integral performance of Wagner's Ring. Pritchard was made a CBE in 1962 and was awarded a knighthood in 1983.


  • Work : New Career 1951 (As conductor)
  • Work : New Job 1957 (With Royal Liverpool Philharmonic)
  • Work : New Job 1962 (Directorship of the London Philharmonic Orchestra)

Source Notes

Data Plus UK No.2, Apr/1998 quotes his mother's diary, Helen Conway, "Sir John Pritchard: His Life and Music," Andre Deutsch, 1993, p.8, "born in Walthamstow, NE London." Sy Scholfield has birth for 2/06/1921. The Oxford Dictionary of Music gives the date of 1921, London.

There is another John Pritchard, an astronomer.

Frank, please check the biography that you quote for the musician, Sir John Pritchard, for 1918.

"Who's Who" gives 5 February 1921 (no reference, or course). There's no birth listing in The Times for 1918 or 1921 using these dates. Sy Scholfield wrote that the

British Library on-line catalogue gives his birth year as

1918, along with the cataloguing of the Helen Conway biography. "I cannnot get this book here, so can't help you any more with this! The year of birth could be checked in the English Births indexes but as yet I don't have access to them."



  • Vocation : Entertain/Music : Conductor
  • Vocation : Military : Military service