He was an orchestral conductor and organist born in London, England, who started in music when he became a chorister at St. Paul’s Cathedral and progressed to studying the organ and piano there before taking up Lieder, accompaniment, being a student repetiteur and later conducting at the Royal College of Music.
After graduation he became a freelance accompanist, often working for the BBC, and there he became chorus master in 1938 and relocated with them throughout WWII, becoming the director of the BBC Revue Orchestra in 1943. These years would be the beginning of a highly successful conducting career and from 1944 onwards he led orchestras that include the BBC Northern Orchestra, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, the Liverpool Philharmonic, the Philharmonia, the Royal Philharmonic orchestra and the National Youth Orchestra, to which he would become president.
He was known to champion British composers and although having conducted a huge repertoire of music, including the first complete cycle of Mahler symphonies, his numerous recordings often concentrated on British light music.
After being made an Officer of the British Empire and later a Commander of the British Empire, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1973. Making Music established the Sir Charles Groves Prize in 1990 to commemorate his 75th birthday.
He died in London when he was 77 years old and the composer Sir Peter Maxwell Davies wrote Sir Charles: his Pavane in his honour.
Philharmonia Orchestra recordings
Denon CO-73534 (CD: Sir Charles’ Precious Music Box-I)
Conductor – Sir Charles Groves