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Summary Article: Wood, Henry Joseph
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

English conductor. From 1895 until his death, he conducted the London Promenade Concerts, now named after him. He promoted a national interest in music and encouraged many young composers. As a composer he is remembered for the Fantasia on British Sea Songs (1905), which ends each Promenade season.

Wood was a talented child, especially as an organist, and gave recitals and held church appointments as a boy. He studied at the Royal Academy of Music and in 1889 had his first experience as a conductor, and toured as an opera conductor for the next few years; he conducted the British premiere of Eugene Onegin in 1892. In 1895 he was engaged by Robert Newman to take charge of the Promenade Concerts at the newly built Queen's Hall, and he remained in charge of them for 50 years, until the end of his life, celebrating their half-centenary just before his death. He began modestly with popular programmes, but soon included many of the latest foreign and English novelties as they appeared; gave the first performance of Schoenberg's Five Orchestral Pieces in 1912 and first British performances of Mahler's first, fourth, seventh, and eighth symphonies. He conducted further performances of music by Bartók, Strauss, Sibelius, and Skriabin. He also conducted many music festivals and gave the first performances of works by Delius and Vaughan Williams (Serenade to Music, 1938). In 1898 he married the Russian soprano Olga Urussov (who died in 1909) and in 1911 Muriel Greatorex.

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