Sir Charles Mackerras Tributes

Tributes have been pouring in via email, on Facebook and Twitter about the conductor Sir Charles Mackerras who sadly passed away at the age of 84. Read some of them and post your tributes here...

"I remember when he came in for a Classic Newsnight interview with me about five years ago, and was desperate for a coffee. Needless to say, the machine was out of order. Not to be defeated, he proclaimed in that inimitable Aussie drawl of his: “If in doubt, give it a clout”, whereupon he delivered a hearty kick to the machine, which responded with a tsunami of coffee-coloured liquid which flooded the worktop."

John Brunning, Classic FM Presenter


"Successful conductors are very busy people but he would always go out of his way to make time to come into the studios for a chat. His enthusiasm for music but especially Mozart was truly infectious. He always maintained that he had needed all his 60 years on the podium to crack the Mozart symphonies. I remember him telling me that with his recent Scottish Chamber Orchestra recordings he had finally said all that he had to say about them and could die happy."


Andrew Cornall, Executive Director, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic


"I introduced a concert conducted by SCM of Beethoven's 9th some years ago and met him ater the concert - An absolutely delightful man. I must say I think his complete set of Beethoven Symphonies recorded with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic uses original manuscripts that are the closest thing to what Beethoven wrote without any amendements or additions by more recent conductors or composers, and I think it's the best set of Beethoven Symphonies out there."

John Suchet, Classic FM Presenter

Listen to John Suchet's tribute


"For me personally, every single time that I have worked with Sir Charles over the last 30 years, I have learnt so much; from every performance, every conversation. It has been such a privilege to have known one of the most remarkable musicians of the 20th century. We will never forget what became his final performance with us in December 2009 - a reprisal of our acclaimed Hansel and Gretel recording with him that was imbued even then with an extraordinary poignancy, and finally a performance of Beethoven's Pastoral symphony that was quite simply perfect; sublime."

David Whelton, Managing Director of the Philharmonia Orchestra


"Sir Charles has a very special place in the heart of every musician in the Philharmonia Orchestra. I can think of no other conductor with his unique blend of passion, integrity and musicianship. He was completely lacking in pomposity or self-regard: for him, the joy was all in the music and in making and communicating that music. Performing with him felt like an entirely shared experience, and a wholly joyous one. Our musical world is greatly reduced by today's sad news; we will all miss him terribly."

Alistair Mackie, Chairman and Co-Principal Trumpet of the Philharmonia Orchestra

"I had the privilege to sing commendatore Don Giovanni with this great conductor twice with Welsh National Opera and with English National Opera, also Greek Passion Royal Opera House and Damnation of Faust at Leeds Town Hall. He was in a league of his own, he helped me and it was an honour to be with him he will be sadly missed."

John Tranter, Operatic Bass


"A great interpreter of Mozart has left us, give thanks for all the magnificent recordings he leaves behind him."

Ian Byrnes, Classic FM listener


"He had an almost unparalleled mastery of music across a huge range of styles and periods from Handel through Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Dvořák and Janáček and beyond. His work with the SCO was always special and there is a rich legacy of performances to remember and outstanding recordings to cherish well into the future. Apart from being a great musician Charles was a man of great warmth, wit and personal generosity. For him, the music always came first which gave him a humility in the way he approached his craft and an integrity in all the work he undertook. His versatility made him stand out from his colleagues at the top of the conducting profession and there remains no one quite like him."

Roy McEwan, Managing Director of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra


"The world of music has lost one of its greats. I particularly love his version of Pineapple Poll and only recently bought a new copy of it. He was one of 'the' great conductors of our time, for a start you could understand his beat and - having played with an orchestra for 35 years (now retired) - I know that this is not always easy!"

Valerie Smith, Classic FM listener


"I was sitting immediately behind Sir Charles in June at Glyndebourne, as he conducted Cosi. It took this frail gentleman several minutes to reach his podium, with assistance from members of the orchestra. When he picked up his baton he became vital and full of energy and the performance was glorious. We had the opportunity to thank him directly as he took the applause, which he acknowledged with an enormous smile, sharing his joy in the music with a thrilled and appreciative audience."

Karen Hall, Classic FM listener


"How sad to learn of the passing of this wonderful musician. What a lifetime of achievement - bringing his expertise to millions! He was just one of the best."

Derek Hearsey, Classic FM listener


"Mozart is my favourite composer. Sir Charles conveyed his music to my heart in a way few others were capable."

Luis González-Camino, Classic FM listener