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7 May 2014, 15:11 | Updated: 7 May 2014, 15:23
Sir George Christie, former chairman of Glyndebourne opera house and festival, has died aged 80 after a "hard-fought illness".
Christie died in the early hours of this morning, his son and current chairman Gus Christie confirmed:
"My father passed away peacefully this morning after a hard fought illness. He will be remembered as a visionary leader and a great champion of the arts in this country. His achievements were immense and his friendship cherished by many, not least by those lucky enough to have worked with him directly."
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"As a family we listened to the first act of Der Rosenkavalier from the 1965 Glyndebourne recording last night with him. He has been Glyndebourne's guiding spirit throughout its history and we will dedicate this Festival to him."
Born on December 31st 1934, Christie was the son of the founders of Glyndebourne, John Christie and Audrey Mildmay, and became chairman himself at the age of just 23, in 1958. He stayed in the position until 1999, after hugely expanding the profile of the opera house and its annual festival.
Classic FM's Sam Pittis spoke to Timothy Walker from the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the orchestra of the Glyndebourne festival.
The festival is now in its 80th year and has expanded to include international tours and a new opera house, built in 1994. Christie was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2013 International Opera Awards.
It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Sir George Christie, Chairman of Glyndebourne 1958 - 1999. http://t.co/KRap0jdwaX— Glyndebourne (@glyndebourne) May 7, 2014