Violist Herbert Downes, Founding Member of London Philharmonia, Dies

Classic Arts News   Violist Herbert Downes, Founding Member of London Philharmonia, Dies
 
Herbert Downes, principal viola player for London's Philharmonia Orchestra for nearly 30 years, died on December 21, the London Guardian reports. He was 95.

Downes was born in Walsall, Staffordshire, where he began taking violin lessons from Arthur Hytch, a local teacher who, according to Downes, "taught me violin, fly-fishing, and a little about the stock market."

By the time he was 18, he was a violinist in the City of Birmingham Orchestra, and then played with the BBC Midland Orchestra, and at Scarborough.

He became a violist in the Henry Holst Quartet in 1931, conducted a semi-amateur orchestra in Walsall, led his own quartet, and, from the BBC Scottish Orchestra in Glasgow, moved to the Liverpool Philharmonic. From this last ensemble came the Philharmonia Quartet: Downes and Holst with Ernest Element and Anthony Pini. When the Philharmonia Orchestra was founded, Downes became a principal in it, and played with the orchestra until 1974.

He retired in Exmouth in his 80s.

Downes' notable recordings include Richard Strauss's Don Quixote, with cellist Jacqueline du Pr_, and two versions of Brahms's Op. 91.

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