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Alfredo Campoli (1906 - 1991)

The versatile Alfredo Campoli is perhaps equally well-known for his 1930s recordings and broadcasts of light music as for his more serious solo work. As the depression of the 1920s and 1930s reduced demand for classical artists, Campoli made a living with his salon orchestra ‘Alfredo and His Tzigane Band’, performing in traditional Romany costume, and the Welbeck Light Quartet which played in London restaurants.

Campoli, who moved to London with his musician parents aged five, learnt violin with his father and by the age of thirteen had won so many prizes that he was asked not to participate in further competitions. Having made his Wigmore Hall début aged seventeen, in 1919 he did however enter the London Music Festival, winning the gold medal with Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, a work which he performed over 900 times throughout his career.

Following World War II, during which he gave numerous concerts for Allied troops, Campoli returned to serious classics, establishing an international reputation with a repertoire including Moeran, Ireland, Bax and Walton. In 1955 he premièred and recorded Arthur Bliss’s Violin Concerto, written for him, with Bliss conducting. They enjoyed a lively working relationship: Campoli cheekily exaggerating the difficulties in passages that he considered badly written for the violin and offering his own ‘corrections’.




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