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Wood, Sir Henry J.

Wood, Sir Henry J. (1869–1944). English conductor. Initially an organist and composer, although he also taught singing for much of his life, Wood studied at London's Royal College of Music. He made his conducting début in 1888; he also helped Sullivan prepare The Yeomen of the Guard and Ivanhoe and conducted the British première of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin (1892), reflecting his lifelong promotion of new Russian music. In 1895 Wood founded the enormously influential Queen's Hall Promenade Concerts, which he conducted until his death, introducing countless new works to the British public. He encouraged many young British performers and composers, conducting the Royal Academy of Music student orchestra for twenty years. His meticulous markings of scores and parts, his well-organized rehearsals, and his clear technique with a very long baton (described in his book About Conducting) allowed him to make the most of often minimal rehearsal time. His Fantasia on British Sea-Songs, an arrangement written in 1905 for the centenary of Trafalgar, has become an immovable part of the Last Night of the Proms.

Eric Cross

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