Constantin Silvestri

Constantin Silvestri (May 13, 1913 – February 23, 1969), great Romanian conductor, composer, pianist, a musician before his time.

As a boy in Romania, his musical talents developed quickly. He made his first public appearance as a pianist at the age of ten. He studied piano and composition at Bucharest Conservatory with Mihail Jora and the "Iron Lady" Florica Musicescu. He began his career as a pianist, but had the opportunity to conduct the Bucharest Radio Symphony Orchestra in 1930. This debut was a success, and convinced Silvestri to pursue conducting as a career. In 1935 he joined the conducting staff of the Bucharest Opera, rising eventually to becoming its music director. In 1945 he also became music director of the Bucharest Philharmonic Orchestra. He joined the faculty of the Bucharest Conservatory in 1948, teaching conducting. He received a State Prize for conducting in 1952. He became a frequent conductor, mainly in "friendly Socialist countries" such as the Soviet Union and others in Eastern Europe.

Silvestri left Romania in 1956 and settled in Paris. In 1957 he made his debut in Britain on January 25, 1957, with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at Royal Albert Hall, and the debut at Covent Garden in Mussorgsky's Khovanschina.

In 1961 Silvestri was appointed principal conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra to which he became passionately attached. He made this English seaside town his home and elevated the orchestra to international standard. He conducted and recorded with the world's finest orchestras including the Berlin, Vienna, London and BBC Philharmonics, the Philharmonia and Hallé, the Chicago and Philadelphia Symphony Orchestras, the Moscow and Leningrad Philharmonics, the Orchestre National de Paris, Concertgebouw, Suisse Romande and Tokyo NHKSO, the Prague and Budapest Philharmonics as well as the principal orchestras of Australia, South Africa, Argentina, Scandinavia, Italy and other European countries. The long list of celebrated musicians who played with him as soloists includes Yehudi Menuhin, David Oistrach, Paul Tortelier, Pierre Fournier, Mstislav Rostropovich, Claudio Arrau, Nathan Milstein, Clara Haskil, Daniel Barenboim and Vladimir Ashkenazy.

His discography is impressive, with over 100 recordings, of note being Silvestri - BBC Legends, 2007. His recordings received a First Prize from L'Académie Charles Cros (for Antonin Dvořák's Symphony No.9, "From the New World") and the Grand Prix du Disque (for George Enescu’s Wind Dixtuor). Silvestri also composed for orchestra, chamber, and voice. He became a naturalized citizen of the United Kingdom in 1967.