Professor Raymond Holden

AM, PhD (London), Dip Mus (Ed), Hon ARAM

Academic Studies - Professor of Public Engagement
Conducting - Professor of Public Engagement and Contextual Studies in Performance Practice and Performance History
Research Programmes - Professor of Public Engagement

Researcher and lecturer specialising in monumental conductors

Professor of the University of London

Professor of Public Engagement, Royal Academy of Music, London

Professor Raymond Holden studied at Sydney, Cologne and London and has worked as a conductor, writer, broadcaster and lecturer. Between 1978 and 1989, he was assistant to Sir John Pritchard, for whom he acted as associate conductor with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra and the Brussels Opera at the Proms, the Royal Festival Hall, the Salzburg Festival, the Edinburgh Festival and the City of London Festivals, and, between 1980 and 1991, he performed with the Philharmonia Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the New Symphony Orchestra of London, the Wren Orchestra, the Danish Radio Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Emilia-Romagna and at the Montepulciano Festival. 

In recent years, Professor Holden has published extensively with the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Music & Letters, Performance Practice Review, Richard Strauss-Blätter, Studien und Berichte, Wagner News, EMI records and ICA Classics. As music advisor to the editor of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, he has contributed forty-five signed articles to the Dictionary and, for Cambridge University Press, has written chapters for the firm’s Companion to Conducting and Companion to Richard Strauss. He has also published four major books during the last twelve years: The Virtuoso Conductors and Richard Strauss: a Musical Life, both for Yale University Press, and Glorious John and Barbirolli: a Chronicle of a Career for The Barbirolli Society in association with the Royal Academy of Music. The Virtuoso Conductors was book of the week on RTE Radio 1’s (Ireland) distinguished Off the Shelf programme in April 2006; Richard Strauss: a Musical Life, won the Association for Recorded Sound Collection’s (USA) ‘Award for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research’ in 2012, and, his most recent book, Barbirolli: a Chronicle of a Career, won the Association for Recorded Sound Collection’s (USA) ‘Best History in the category Best Historical Research in Classical Music’ in 2017. He has recently completed a book of conversations with Sir Mark Elder, entitled Elder on Music: Sir Mark Elder in Conversation with Raymond Holden, is writing a critical history of twentieth century conductors, provisionally entitled The Age of the Maestro, and is contributing two chapters to Cambridge University Press’s forthcoming book, Richard Strauss in Context.

Professor Holden has appeared on BBC Radio, BBC Television, ABC Radio, Classic FM (South Africa), 3MBS FM (Melbourne), Vision Australia Radio, LBC, Danish Radio and Television, RAI Radio and Television and with the renowned mezzo-soprano, Brigitte Fassbaender, in Eric Schulz’s critically acclaimed documentary on Richard Strauss, At the End of the Rainbow, which received its world premiere at the Salzburg Festival in 2014 and its German premiere at Berlin’s Philharmonie later that year.

As the organiser and presenter of the Academy’s ‘The Barbirolli Lectures’ and ‘The Henry Wood Lectures’, Professor Holden has interviewed publicly Sir Charles Mackerras, Sir Mark Elder, Sir Neville Marriner, Leif Segerstam, Edward Gardner, Vladimir Jurowski, Leon Fleisher, Denis O’Neill, Ryland Davies, Paul Badura-Skoda, Dame Anne Evans, Dame Gwyneth Jones, Yvonne Minton, Ann Murray, Sarah Walker, Sheila Armstrong, Ian Partridge, John Williams, Stephen Hough, Steven Isserlis, György Pauk, James Ehnes, Erich Grunberg, Jonathan Del Mar, John Suchet, Eric Schulz, Tony Palmer, Humphrey Burton and Bruno Monsaingeon.

Professor Holden also regularly lectures on his research interests at, and for, major universities, conservatoires, conferences and arts organisations around the world. He has spoken at The Institute of Historical Research (University of London), The Institute for Advanced Musical Studies (King’s College, University of London), Goldsmiths’ College (University of London), The University of Sheffield, The University of Oxford, Monash University (Melbourne), The University of New South Wales, The Australian National University, the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (The University of Sydney), the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music (University of Melbourne), the 16th Congress of the International Musicological Society at the Royal College of Music, the Norwegian State Academy of Music, the Richard Strauss-Institut (Garmisch-Partenkirchen), The University of Stellenbosch, the Sibelius Academy, the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory (Singapore), the Austrian Cultural Forum (London), Glyndebourne Festival Opera, the Royal College of Physicians, Wagner 200 (Barbican Centre), the Wagner Society of Great Britain, the Mahler Society of Great Britain, the Wagner Society of Victoria, the Wagner Society of Queensland, Keele University, the Venice Conducting Academy (Florida, USA), the Royal Academy of Music’s Hong Kong Alumni Association, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the Hochschule der Künste Bern and the Kunstuniversität Graz.

Professor Holden was appointed Professor of the University of London in February 2016 and a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the 2019 Australian Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

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