Early life and career
Salmond was born to a family of professional musicians. His father was a baritone, and his mother was a pianist who had studied with Clara Schumann. At age twelve, Salmond started studying with the man who became his primary cello teacher, William Whitehouse. He won a scholarship to continue studies with Whitehouse four years later at the Royal Academy of Music in London. He continued on to the Brussels Conservatoire at age nineteen, where he studied for two years with Édouard Jacobs. His concert debut was in 1908, playing Frank Bridge's Fantasy Trio in C minor and Johannes Brahms's Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor. Salmond's mother was the pianist, with Bridge on viola and Maurice Sons playing the violin. The recital, which took place at the Bechstein Hall, was very successful, leading to many future engagements for Salmond. He gave recitals across Britain and appeared with the Queen's Hall Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Hallé Orchestra, amongst others. He also toured America in a piano quartet with Harold Bauer, Bronisław Huberman and Lionel Tertis.
Salmond and Elgar
World War I prevented Salmond from developing his international career further at that time, but he resumed building a reputation in chamber music after the war. His performances in this period included the premieres, on 21 May 1919, of Edward Elgar's String Quartet in E minor and Piano Quintet in A minor at the Wigmore Hall (as the Bechstein Hall had now become).
After Salmond's performance of his quartet, Elgar entrusted Salmond with the solo part for the debut of his most personal and heartfelt work, his Cello Concerto in E minor with the London Symphony Orchestra at the Queen's Hall. The premiere, on 26 October 1919, proved to be a disaster. The performance was scheduled such that Albert Coates, the conductor of the London Symphony, would conduct the rest of the program whilst Elgar himself would conduct the concerto. Coates, a self-important man, was well known for using up to forty-five minutes of his hour of rehearsal time lecturing his players. After consuming an hour of Elgar's rehearsal time, Elgar—who was until that time waiting offstage for his chance to rehearse—uncharacteristically exploded with anger. The severely under-rehearsed performance which followed received scathing reviews, with Ernest Newman stating that "the orchestra made a public exhibition of its miserable self". Elgar later said that if it weren't for Salmond's diligent work in preparing the piece, he would have pulled it from the concert entirely.
Career in America
On 29 March 1922, he made his American solo debut in New York City at the Aeolian Hall. He settled in America, although he returned to England and Europe for tours. He was appointed to the Juilliard School's faculty in 1924, and became head of the cello faculty at the Curtis Institute of Music a year later—a position which he kept until 1942. However, still bruised by the experience of the first performance of the Elgar concerto, he did not teach it or play it outside England. He was highly regarded in America as a teacher, with pupils including Orlando Cole, Suzette Forgues Halasz, Bernard Greenhouse, Leonard Rose, Daniel Saidenberg, and Alan Shulman. He also received great appreciation as a performer. In 1924, he appeared at Carnegie Hall in a well-reviewed piano trio with pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski and violinist Efrem Zimbalist. He had a broad taste in music for the cello, including works by contemporary composers such as Samuel Barber, Ernest Bloch and George Enescu (premiering two of his pieces). He last returned to England in 1947; he died in New York.
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- "Obituary: Felix Salmond". The Musical Times (reprint) 93 (1310): 181. April 1952. ISSN 0027-4666. JSTOR 935471.
- MacGregor, Lynda. (subscription access) "Salmond, Felix (Adrian Norman)". Grove Music Online. Retrieved 2007-06-03.
- Stevenson, Joseph. "Felix Salmond: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2007-06-23.
- "Elgar - His Music: String Quartet in E minor". The Elgar Society. Retrieved 2007-06-23.
- Lloyd Webber, Julian (22 May 2007). "How I fell in love with E E's darling". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 5 February 2009.
- "Great Soloist". Time. 1924-05-19. Retrieved 2007-06-23.