Wednesday, 26 November 2008
Richard Hickox 1948-2008
As a publisher with a long-standing interest in books on British music, we would like to join those who have expressed their shock and sadness at the sudden death of Richard Hickox. Coming so soon after Vernon Handley, music is robbed of two great conductors who weren’t afraid to stray from the well-worn path. On his Guardian blog, Tom Service writes “[His death is] a huge blow for those British composers - Rubbra, Dyson, Alwyn, Bliss - who Hickox championed but who other conductors rarely go near.”
He recorded over 300 CDs – a remarkable work rate and an indication of his passion for the repertoire – many of them for Chandos. “His long-standing relationship with the Chandos label resulted in a formidable discographical output centred on British music of the last hundred years or so: Elgar, Parry, Stanford and their many successors,” wrote Barry Millington, also in the Guardian. “Among the orchestral byways explored were William Alwyn, Malcolm Arnold, Lennox Berkeley, Frank Bridge and Edmund Rubbra, while neglected items such as George Dyson's Canterbury Pilgrims joined classics by Tippett, Walton and others from the choral repertoire.” He was also an acclaimed interpreter of Britten’s operas and the music of Ralph Vaughan Williams.
With typical eloquence, On an Overgrowth Path, writes: “He championed music that has been quite scandalously ignored by higher-profile conductors, despite its obvious merit. We have lost a truly great musical figure. Richard Hickox was a wonderful musician. But he was also prepared to devote much of his career to going where others fear to tread. That is something very rare among top conductors today. Nothing can offset the feeling of loss. But at least Richard's passion will live on in his wonderful recorded legacy.”