Henschel, Sir (Isidor) George [Georg ]
- Steven Ledbetter
- , revised by Brian Bell
(b Breslau [now Wrocław, Poland], Feb 18, 1850; d Aviemore, Scotland, Sept 10, 1934). English baritone, conductor, and composer of German birth. His early career was spent in Europe after he had studied at the Leipzig and Berlin conservatories. In 1877 he moved to England, where he met his future wife, the American soprano Lillian Bailey. While in Boston before their wedding, they performed several recitals and appeared as Mephistopheles and Gretchen, respectively, in B.J. Lang’s performance of Berlioz’s La damnation de Faust on 12 November 1880.
In March 1881, Henschel led the Harvard Musical Association orchestra in an overture of his own composition, and his conducting attracted considerable attention. Henry Lee Higginson, who wished to establish a permanent symphony orchestra for Boston and was looking for a conductor, engaged him immediately. There was some criticism of the selection at first, in part because Henschel’s appointment was deemed a slight to local conductors and in part because his multiple talents aroused suspicion as to his competence in any one area, but he came to be regarded as a fine musician, if not a stern drillmaster; he also established the orchestra’s score library. His first season included all the Beethoven symphonies played in chronological order; the Ninth was performed at the last concert of the season with a volunteer chorus of subscribers and others. He conducted the same cycle in his second and third seasons as well. Toward the end of his career, in ...