Sir Malcolm Sargent


Object number
Gift from Kelly, Gerald Festus — 1968-03


Sir Malcolm Sargent (1895–1967) was the pre-eminent choral conductor of his day. Son of a coal merchant, Sargent was born in Stamford, Lincolnshire and his early musical education was that of a church musician. It was as a result of the encouragement of Sir Henry Wood that in the early 1920s he moved to London and focussed his attention on conducting. Sargent held the chief conductorship of the Liverpool Philharmonic, Hallé and BBC Symphony orchestras, but was probably most widely known as the chief conductor of the Promenade Concerts from 1948 until his death. Sargent was much admired for his control of large choral forces, and gave the first performance of Walton's "Belshazzar's Feast" at the Leeds Festival in 1931. Always meticulously well-groomed, Sargent was a popular figure both at home and abroad, becoming known as 'Britain's Ambassador of Music' as a result of his numerous overseas tours.

Sir Gerald Kelly (1879–72), essentially self-taught, specialised in portraits and landscapes. In his early years he lived and studied modern paintings in Paris (exhibiting at the Salon d'Automne in 1904) and was also influenced by Whistler. In 1907 he was a founder-member of the Modern Portrait Painters Society and in 1922 was made an Associate of the Royal Academy, eventually rising to be its President in 1949–54. A friend of Somerset Maugham, he provided the basis for characters in some of the latter’s novels.