George Hurst (conductor)

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George Hurst (20 May 1926 – 15 September 2012)[1] was a British conductor.

Early life[edit]

Hurst was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1926, of Romanian and Russian parentage. He became a piano student in London of Julius Isserlis, grandfather of the cellist Steven Isserlis. On the outbreak of World War II, Hurst was sent to Canada, where he continued to study music at Bishop's College School in Lennoxville, Quebec and The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.[1][2]


Hurst began his career as a writer and then his talent for composition was recognized while he was a student at Royal Conservatory in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.[3] At age 21, he became a professor of composition at the Peabody Institute located in Baltimore, and also worked and studied with Pierre Monteux while he stayed in America.[4] In North America, Hurst was affiliated with the York Symphony Orchestra (Pennsylvania) from 1950 to 1955.[5]

Hurst acted as an associate conductor for the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Sir Adrian Boult in the early 1950s.[6] He was the chief conductor of the BBC Northern Orchestra (later the BBC Philharmonic) from 1958 to 1968. In 1956, he took part in the London Philharmonic tour of Russia.[6] His conducting work with the BBC Northern included the first Manchester performance of Arnold Schoenberg's Gurre-Lieder in February 1966,[7] and also the premiere of Thomas Pitfield's Concerto lirico for violin and orchestra.[8]

Hurst formed the Bournemouth Sinfonietta in 1968 and was their artistic adviser until 1974. With the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, he led the first London performance of the Second Symphony of Malcolm Williamson on 31 October 1969.[9] He was principal guest conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra from 1986 to 1989. From 1990 to 1993, he was principal conductor of the RTE National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland.

From 1960, Hurst was affiliated as a teacher with the Sherborne Summer School of Music (formerly Canford Summer School of Music). He was also a visiting professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and conducted from 1983 until his death.[2][3]


Hurst's recordings include Wagner operatic orchestral extracts with the New Philharmonia, The Planets with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, suites from King Arthur and Starlight Express by Elgar and English string music with the Bournemouth Sinfonietta, and Elgar's First Symphony with the BBC Philharmonic.

Personal life[edit]

Hurst was married twice. His second wife Denise Ham, whom he married in 2007, survives him, as does his daughter from his first marriage.[5]


  1. ^ a b "Scottish conductor George Hurst dies at 86". BBC News. 17 September 2012.
  2. ^ a b "George Hurst". The Telegraph. 17 September 2012. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  3. ^ a b "George Hurst. Acclaimed conductor. Born May 20, 1926. Died September 15, 2012. Aged 86". Daily Express. 22 September 2012. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  4. ^ "Presto News - 22nd October 2012 George Hurst". Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  5. ^ a b Barry Millington (24 September 2012). "George Hurst obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  6. ^ a b Boult, Adrian C. My Own Trumpet. Hamish Hamilton, London, 1973, p. 151.
  7. ^ Kennedy, Michael, "Reports: Manchester" (May 1966). The Musical Times, 107 (1479): pp. 425–429.
  8. ^ Turner, John, "In Memoriam Thomas Pitfield: Master of Arts" (Spring 2000). The Musical Times, 141 (1870): pp. 9–14.
  9. ^ Cole, Hugo, "Music in London: Orchestral - BSO/Hurst" (December 1969). The Musical Times, 110 (1522): pp. 1261–1271.

External links[edit]

See also[edit]

Preceded by Chief Conductor, BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra
Succeeded by
Preceded by Principal Conductor, National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland
Succeeded by
Kasper de Roo