Professor Barry Tuckwell AC OBE b.1931

Barry Tuckwell

Professor Barry Tuckwel

In 1963, too, he made his first BBC broadcast and became Professor of Horn at the Royal Academy of Music.

In 1968 Tuckwell resigned from the LSO to pursue a career as a horn soloist and, more challengingly, as a conductor.

 

Again, Tuckwell’s performing progress was astonishing: from Assistant First Horn in the
Hallé Orchestra in Manchester, via the Scottish National Orchestra and the Bournemouth Symphony, to Principal Horn of the London Symphony Orchestra at the age of only 24. During his 13 years with the co-operatively-run LSO he was the musicians’ representative on its board. In 1963 he was appointed chairman of directors, a position he held for six years; in 1963, too, he made his first BBC broadcast and became Professor of Horn at the Royal Academy of Music. During his years with the LSO, Tuckwell became internationally recognised as a distinguished soloist and recording artist.

In 1968 Tuckwell resigned from the LSO to pursue a career as a horn soloist and, more challengingly, as a conductor. It was a path attempted by a number of other established instrumentalists and even singers, and it was not easy. That Tuckwell succeeded is testament to his brilliance. After André Previn invited him to conduct for the 1977 South Bank Festival in London, there were further engagements in Germany, the Netherlands, Scandinavia and the United States. Many composers wrote works for him, including Oliver Knussen and Richard Rodney Bennett. And, of course, he continued to play the French horn, though now only as a soloist or in small chamber groups – such as the Barry Tuckwell Wind Quintet, which he founded in 1969. He was the first president of the International Horn Society (1970-76) and served another term from 1992 to 1994.

In 1980 Tuckwell returned to Australia to take up the position of chief conductor with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra; the one-year appointment extended to four. He made his mainland conducting debut in 1982, leading a Family Concert with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

In 1981 EMI hosted a very special 50th birthday celebration for him at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. The participants included Vladimir Ashkenazy, Richard Rodney Bennett, Sheila Armstrong, the Gabrielli Quartet and, of course, the Barry Tuckwell Wind Quintet. The following year Tuckwell began a long engagement as conductor of the Maryland Symphony Orchestra.

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Biographical references

Charles Buttrose: Playing for Australia, Macmillan, 1982
Robert Peterson: ‘Barry Emmanuel Tuckwell’, in The Oxford Companion to Australian Music, Oxford University Press, 1997