Hugh Maguire: Violinist who led the BBC Symphony Orchestra

He famously reduced the conductor Josef Krips to tears during rehearsals with the LSO

Hugh Maguire was a most accomplished and respected violinist with an outstanding reputation as a soloist, orchestral leader, chamber musician and teacher. Combining a rare musical insight with remarkable resilience, he remained at the forefront of British musical life for more than half a century.

He was educated at Belverdale College in his native Dublin, his prodigious musical talents taking him first to the city’s Municipal School of Music; four years at the Royal Academy of Music brought wider fame. Having starred in many college concerts, he made his Wigmore Hall debut in 1947. Subsequently spending time in Paris, there he further refined his technique in the company of George Enesco.

As a performer, revelling in the unique opportunities afforded by the instrument, his colourful and virtuosic playing combined precision with unalloyed panache. His seemingly effortless delivery, unerring accuracy, warm tone and sensitive interpretations endeared him to audiences worldwide. Likewise, his sense of humour, generous spirit and impeccable timing won him the high regard of colleagues.

Rising quickly through the ranks of the major London orchestras, in 1952 he was appointed Leader of the Bournemouth Municipal Orchestra, soon to become the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. Four years later, moving to the London Symphony Orchestra, in 1962 he succeeded Paul Beard as Leader of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. At the same time he was also a regular visitor to the Abbey Road studios, his artistic palette there embracing everything from the film scores of John Barry to recording sessions with the Beatles.

As an orchestral leader, Maguire could be cool towards conductors. He famously reduced Josef Krips to tears with the London Symphony Orchestra; the conductor was coaxed back to the podium only after Maguire agreed to pray with him in his dressing room. A similarly combative relationship with Sir Malcolm Sargent saw him walk out of a BBC studio during tense rehearsals for a performance of Gustav Holst’s Choral Symphony.

Notable among many career highlights was a memorable performance of the Brahms Double Concerto in the company of Carlo Maria Giulini, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and the cellist, Jacqueline du Pré. Soon becoming a great family friend, du Pré eventually took up residence at Maguire’s north London home. Regularly joined by the pianist Fou Ts’ong, they would relax by performing countless hours of chamber music.

Another musician to benefit from the Maguire family’s generous hospitality was the violinist, Iona Brown. As his star pupil she joined him, Cecil Aronowitz and Terence Weil in forming the Cremona Quartet. Like Maguire before her, she too would enjoy great success with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields.

When he left the BBC in 1967, Maguire’s outlook found a particularly happy and expressive outlet as Leader of the Allegri Quartet. Amid concerts often illuminated by his Bloom-like spoken programme notes, the ensemble increasingly championed many newly minted creations, including quartets by Alexander Goehr, Elizabeth Maconchy, Robert Sherlaw Johnson – and Malcolm Arnold, whose opus 118, affectionately dedicated to Maguire, formed the centrepiece of the 1976 Aldeburgh Festival.

He departed the Allegri later that year , his expertise then helping to revive the fortunes of the Melos and Leonardo Ensembles. Maguire also enjoyed a richly productive artistic partnership with the pianist, Joyce Rathbone, while during the 1980s he led the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

Once famously taking the baton mid-concert when Basil Cameron collapsed, Maguire was seen all too rarely as a conductor with professional orchestras. However, with student performers he proved highly efficient, leading them with humour and inexhaustible enthusiasm. Artistic Director of the Irish Youth Orchestra, String Coach of the European Community Youth Orchestra, he also tutored the strings of the National Youth Orchestras of Great Britain.

As a teacher Maguire was meticulous, exacting and demanding, never more so than during his 26 years as Professor of Violin at the Royal Academy of Music. Both there and at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama he helped mould the creative personalities of many of this country’s most eminent practitioners. Between 1978 and 2002 he was Director of Strings at the Britten-Pears School for Advanced Musical Studies.

Andrew Hugh Michael Maguire, violinist and conductor: born Dublin 2 August 1926; married 1953 Suzanne Lewis (divorced 1987; three daughters, two sons), 1988 Tricia Catchpole (died 2013); died Peasenhall, Suffolk 14 June 2013.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...