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Sir Edward Thomas "Ted" Downes
Birth: Jun. 17, 1924
Death: Jul. 10, 2009
Zurich
Zürich, Switzerland

Opera Conductor. In a 50-year career, mostly at Covent Garden, he earned renown as an authority on the works of Giuseppe Verdi. Raised in Birmingham under rather poor circumstances, he studied violin and piano from around age five, but eventually had to leave school at 15. Against his parents' wishes, he attended the University of Birmingham on a scholarship, majoring in music and English. At 19, a second scholarship enabled him to study at the Royal College of Music; a lectureship at the University of Aberdeen lead to further training in conducting with Herman Scherchen in Zurich; returning to England, he played French horn at Sadler's Wells, and took such conducting dates as he could find. In 1952, Downes was engaged by Royal Opera Covent Garden as a staff conductor; music director Rafael Kubelik was willing to grant him opportunities, and he made his house debut with a 1953 "La Boheme"; soon, the illness of an elderly French conductor forced him to take over a new production of "Tales of Hoffmann". Two years later, he assumed "Otello" on a few hours' notice, garnering a reputation both for skill with Verdi, and for reliability under difficulties. In 1958, Downes assisted Carlo Maria Giulini with a new production of "Don Carlos", later taking over the podium for the run. Association with Sir Georg Solti brought "The Ring" to Covent Garden, as well as the chance to produce lesser-known British works (which Maestro Solti was happy to leave to Downes). Failure to get the top-job when Solti left lead him to spend more time with symphonic works, though not to sever ties with the opera house. From 1972 to 1975, he was music director of the Australian Opera, but his tastes and those of the Australian audiences never really meshed. Thru the 1980s, he was maestro of the BBC Philharmonic, while briefly holding the same job with the Netherlands Radio Orchestra. A champion of the little-known, he produced, with the help of Prokofiev's widow, "Maddalena" with the BBC Philharmonic and "The Fiery Angel" for Covent Garden. Appointed principal conductor of the Royal Opera in 1991, he continued to conduct until his health and eyesight failed. By retirement, Covent Garden had seen him conduct around 950 performances of 49 different operas. A difficult man who disliked mixing with celebrities, he was still appointed Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 1986, and knighted in 1991. Maestro Downes and his 74 year old wife Lady Joan, a former ballet dancer, died together at a Swiss assisted suicide clinic. (bio by: Bob Hufford) 
 
Family links: 
 Spouse:
  Joan Downes (1935 - 2009)*
 
*Calculated relationship
 
Burial:
Cremated, Ashes scattered.
Specifically: Swiss forest
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Bob Hufford
Record added: Jul 14, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 39443475
Sir Edward Thomas Ted Downes
Added by: Bob Hufford
 
Sir Edward Thomas Ted Downes
Added by: Bob Hufford
 
Sir Edward Thomas Ted Downes
Added by: Bob Hufford
 
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- David Wend
 Added: Jun. 17, 2016

- Robert David Miller
 Added: Sep. 27, 2015

- LawBaby
 Added: Jul. 10, 2015
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