Christopher Fifield

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Christopher Fifield (born 1945) is an English conductor and classical music historian and musicologist based in London.

From 1982 until 2022 music director of the Lambeth Orchestra,[1] Fifield is known for his exploration of neglected compositions, often from the 19th century Romantic repertoire.[2] He is also known to the classical music listening public for his concert intermission talks from The Proms and other broadcasts for BBC Radio 3, the BBC World Service, and Classic FM.[3]

He records for the Swedish label Sterling world premiere cds of late-19th century orchestral music (Frederic Cliffe, Xaver and Philipp Scharwenka, Andreas Hallen, Robert Hermann, Franz Xaver Schnyder von Wartensee and Richard Franck).

He is the biographer of Max Bruch and Hans Richter, edited the Letters and Diaries of Kathleen Ferrier and wrote a meticulously researched history of Ibbs and Tillett, the artists and management agency.

A native of Croydon,[1] Christopher Fifield studied at the University of Manchester and at the Musikhochschule in Cologne. He began his conducting career[3][4] as deputy music director at the opera house in Cape Town. He served on the music staff at Glyndebourne for twelve years, as director of music at University College London for ten years and as chorus master to Chelsea Opera Group. For two years he was music director of the London Contemporary Dance Theatre,

Fifield frequently conducts for the Oxford and Cambridge Musical Club.[5] He has conducted the Jubilate Choir[6] Northampton Symphony Orchestra[7] and Central Festival Opera as well as other orchestras in the United Kingdom and in other countries.[1]

Christopher Fifield wrote the 'Conducting Wagner' section of Wagner in Performance, published in 1992 by the Yale University Press.[8] He is a contributor to the current edition of The Oxford Companion to Music[9] a reviewer for MusicWeb International,[10] and participates in academic conferences.[11] In 2011 he was awarded a PhD from University of Bristol; his thesis was 'The German symphony between Beethoven and Brahms: the fall and rise of a genre'.


  • 1988: repr. 2005 in paperback Max Bruch biography. Max Bruch: His Life and Works. New York City: George Braziller. ISBN 0-8076-1204-9.
  • 1993: Hans Richter biography. Foreword by Georg Solti. True Artist and True Friend: A Biography of Hans Richter. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-816157-3.
  • 2003: repr. 2011 in an enlarged and revised paperback edition Kathleen Ferrier biography. Letters and Diaries of Kathleen Ferrier. Woodbridge: Boydell. ISBN 1-84383-012-4.
  • 2005: Ibbs and Tillett history. Ibbs and Tillett: The Rise and Fall of a Musical Empire. Aldershot and London: Ashgate Publishing, formerly Scolar Press. ISBN 1-84014-290-1.
  • 2015: The German Symphony between Beethoven and Brahms: The Fall and Rise of a Genre. Aldershot and London: Ashgate Publishing ISBN 978-1-4094-5288-1.


  1. ^ a b c "About the conductor". Lambeth Orchestra. 2007.
  2. ^ Alan Howe (28 May 2007). "Lambeth Orchestra". The Independent. The conductor Christopher Fifield is well-known for his exploration of neglected, usually Romantic-era repertoire. Some six years ago, he presented the first performance in more than 80 years of the Symphony No 1 by the composer Frederic Cliffe, a work that he then went on to record in an outstanding performance for the Sterling label.[dead link] Review of Lambeth Orchestra conducted by Christopher Fifield at St. Luke's Church, West Norwood. Performance of Rutland Boughton's Third Symphony, Frederic Cliffe's Violin Concerto in D, and the Arnold Bax tone poem Tintagel.
  3. ^ a b "Christopher Fifield, London". Easy-Speak. 8 April 2004. Archived from the original on 26 September 2004. Talks: A Voice from the pit – incidents an opera house audience never gets to hear about… How did we get those chickens off the stage in Fidelio? What was the prompter doing with a hair dryer in his box?
  4. ^ Len Mullenger (30 October 2000). "Music on the Web Welcomes Christopher Fifield". British Classical Music Discussion List Archives.[dead link]
  5. ^ "A Brief History". Oxford and Cambridge Musical Club. 17 February 2004. Archived from the original on 2 October 2011.
  6. ^ "Our History". The Jubilate Choir. Archived from the original on 9 January 2009.
  7. ^ "Conductors". Northampton Symphony Orchestra. n.d. Archived from the original on 27 July 2007. Retrieved 25 August 2007.
  8. ^ Barry Millington; Stewart Spencer, eds. (1992). Wagner in Performance. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-05718-0.
  9. ^ "The Oxford Companion to Music: Authors, editors, and contributors". Oxford University Press. 2002. Archived from the original on 11 July 2006.
  10. ^ Christopher Fifield, Review of Richard Aldous biography of Malcolm Sargent: Tunes of Glory: The Life of Malcolm Sargent. MusicWeb International.
  11. ^ "Sixth Biennial Conference on Music in 19th-Century Britain: Conference Abstracts". University of Birmingham. July 2007. Archived from the original on 29 June 2007.