Lawrance Arthur Collingwood CBE (14 March 1887 – 19 December 1982) was an English conductor, composer and record producer.
Collingwood was born in London and began his musical career as a choirboy at Westminster Abbey. Around 1903 he attended High Wycombe Royal Grammar School. He studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Exeter College, Oxford (1907–1911). He went to Russia as a young man, took courses at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory with Alexander Glazunov, Wihtol, Maximilian Steinberg and Nikolai Tcherepnin, and worked for some years as assistant conductor to Albert Coates at the Saint Petersburg Opera. He also conducted at the Mariinsky Theatre. His two piano sonatas, which show the influence of Alexander Scriabin, were published there.
He returned to England after the Russian Revolution, then served as interpreter for Winston Churchill's expedition in support of White Russian forces in Northern Russia (1918–1919). Back in England, he made his mark initially as a composer: his Symphonic Poem was presented by the Royal College of Music and published. He conducted opera at the Old Vic and Sadler's Wells Theatre, becoming principal conductor at Sadler's Wells. His steady hand did much to establish Sadler's Wells as a viable alternative to Covent Garden. He gave early British performances of operas by Mussorgsky and Rimsky-Korsakov. His own first opera, Macbeth, was presented there under his own direction on 12 April 1934, with Joan Cross singing Lady Macbeth. (Music from the opera had been previously played in the Queen's Hall on 10 November 1927.)
In January 1934, he conducted the London Symphony Orchestra in a recording of the Triumphal March from Caractacus and the Woodland Interlude by Sir Edward Elgar, supervised by the composer himself by telephone from his sickbed before his death a month later.
His second opera, The Death of Tintagiles, set to Alfred Sutro's translation of Maurice Maeterlinck's drama, was premiered on 16 April 1950. His other compositions include a piano concerto and a piano quartet.
Lawrance Collingwood brought many foreign operas to the British stage for the first time. His premieres as a conductor included:
- on 30 September 1935 at Sadler's Wells, the first performance outside Russia of either of Modest Mussorgsky's two original versions of Boris Godunov. It was sung to an English translation by M. D. Calvocoressi
- on 9 April 1946, the first professional performance of Ralph Vaughan Williams' opera Sir John in Love.
Nikolai Medtner dedicated his song The Raven to Lawrance Collingwood.
Collingwood also worked as a record producer from the days of Fred Gaisberg, and was later a colleague of Walter Legge. He was EMI's producer of Sir Thomas Beecham's recordings of the music of Frederick Delius from 1946 onwards. He also produced recordings conducted by Wilhelm Furtwängler and Herbert von Karajan, including Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau's recording of Gustav Mahler's Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (under Furtwängler), Kindertotenlieder and songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn. He produced Vittorio Gui's recording of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro.
He recorded for HMV from 1922 until 1971. His recordings include:
- Vivaldi's Violin Concerto in G minor, with Mischa Elman and the New Philharmonia Orchestra
- Bach Violin Concertos with Mischa Elman
- powerful conducting support with the London Philharmonic (and its great solo oboist, Léon Goossens) for pianist Edwin Fischer in their 1937 definitive performance of Mozart's great C minor Piano Concerto, K. 491, originally issued on eight HMV/Victor 78 sides in startlingly lifelike, finely detailed and richly bassed sound and subsequently transferred first to LP (several times) and finally to EMI CD.
- Verdi's Don Carlos (1954) – the first studio recording of the four-act 1884 version of the opera; singers included Tito Gobbi and Boris Christoff (although Gabriele Santini is identified as the conductor on the issued LP set and CD transfer)
- orchestral accompaniments for some of the most famous singers of the time: Enrico Caruso, Marian Anderson, Beniamino Gigli, Friedrich Schorr, Feodor Chaliapin, Lauritz Melchior, Elisabeth Schumann, John McCormack, Walter Widdop, Joseph Hislop, Elsie Suddaby, Norman Walker, Joan Hammond, Maria Caniglia, Peter Dawson, Florence Austral, Göta Ljungberg, Fernand Ansseau, Sena Jurinac, Rita Gorr, Otakar Kraus, Webster Booth, and Sir Keith Falkner
- Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 24 with Edwin Fischer and the London Philharmonic Orchestra
- 90 Motives from Wagner's Ring Cycle
- Excerpts from Act III of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde
- Ernő Dohnányi's Variations on a Nursery Tune, Op. 25, with the London Symphony Orchestra and the composer at the piano
- light music of Elgar (1964).
- 'The Wycombiensian', September 1957, page 360 - the school magazine of the Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe: "D.J. Watson (1903-09)... wondered whether he was the Lance Collingwood who was at the R.G.S. when Watson entered in 1903. It was the same person... L.A. Collingwood, a Westminster Abbey choirboy, was sent to the school by Sir Frederick Bridge, the Abbey organist and a brother-in-law of Mr. G.J. Peachell, then headmaster of the school." Lance was perhaps his school nickname.
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|Music Director, Sadler's Wells