Percy Pitt

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For the Australian rules footballer, see Percy Pitt (footballer).
Percy Pitt, 1910

Percy Pitt (4 January 1870 – 23 November 1932) was an English organist and conductor.


A native of London, Pitt studied music at the conservatory in Leipzig, also working in Munich with Josef Rheinberger. Returning home in 1893, he held various posts as both organist and choirmaster before being appointed Chorus Master for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 1906; within a year he had become first an assistant conductor and then Principal Conductor. Here, in 1908, he co-operated with Hans Richter in a highly regarded production of Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung in an English translation; Pitt shared the conducting with Richter, who thought very highly of him (as did Sir Edward Elgar). He remained with the company until 1915, when he joined the Beecham Opera Company as conductor. There he remained until 1920, when he became director of the British National Opera Company; he stayed with that company until 1924. Also in 1924 he returned to Covent Garden, this time as Principal Conductor. In 1926 he became General Musical Director of the BBC, remaining there until he was succeeded by Adrian Boult in 1930. Pitt died in London in 1932.

Pitt was the first British musician to conduct the Ring in the opera-house, preceding both Thomas Beecham and Albert Coates. His association with Richter gives special interest to his recordings of extracts from the Ring (1908 and 1921-2: all made for HMV). In his early years he enjoyed considerable repute as a composer of well-crafted light orchestral music.

List of works[edit]

External links[edit]


  • J. Daniel Chamier, Percy Pitt of Covent Garden and the B.B.C. London, 1938.
  • David Ewen, Encyclopedia of the Opera: New Enlarged Edition. New York; Hill and Wang, 1963.