Wyn Morris

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Wyn Morris


• 1929 2010


Although not regarded as one of the celebrity conductors of his age, Wyn Morris earned the gratitude of musicians and audiences alike for his pioneering work in the Mahler oeuvre. Although his recordings now have competing, and often superior alternatives, they remain in the catalog for study and enjoyment. Aside from Mahler, Morris has paid special attention to Beethoven, treating that composer to keen-edged interpretations that evoked considerable excitement. Little doubt exists that Morris' experiences with George Szell contributed to the precision and urgency of his conducting. Morris studied at the Royal Academy of Music before undertaking further training with Igor Markevitch at the Salzburg Mozarteum. When only in his mid-twenties, Morris founded the Welsh Symphony Orchestra and was its music director until 1957. When studying in America at Tanglewood, Morris was awarded the Koussevitsky Memorial Prize. Impressed by the talents of the 28-year-old conductor, George Szell extended an invitation to Morris to come to Cleveland to aid him in Cleveland Orchestra rehearsals and to direct the Orpheus Choir and the Cleveland Chamber Symphony. Although Szell had a reputation as a severe taskmaster, he was also ready to share his unsurpassed knowledge with young musicians willing to apply themselves to learning. The experience proved seminal to Morris, grounding him in a disciplined approach to performance. When he returned to the United Kingdom in 1960, Morris became music director of the Royal National Eisteddfod in Wales, holding that post until 1962. The following year, his career moved forward when he made his London debut as a conductor with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Hired by his alma mater, Morris was made a fellow by the Royal Academy of Music in 1964. A year later, he established the London Symphonica, a move that enabled him to present in concert (and record) the symphonies of Mahler. Indeed, the electricity generated by the concerts fed demand for the recordings that followed. Two choral conducting appointments brought Morris to the Royal Choral in 1968 and to the celebrated Huddersfield Choral Society from 1969 to 1974. Together with the Mahler symphonies, Morris recorded the composer's Das klagende Lied and Des Knaben Wunderhorn (the latter with Janet Baker and Geraint Evans). The Beethoven Piano Concertos No. 2 and No. 4 recorded with Charles Rosen are also worthy interpretations.