Conductor’s gramophone set to sell

A gramophone that once belonged to Sir Thomas Beecham’s protegé conductor, Norman René Del Mar CBE (1919-94), is coming up for auction at Surrey auctioneers John Nicholson’s.

Norman René Del Mar CBE enjoyed a distinguished career as a conductor, having been a horn player in the original Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under Sir Thomas Beecham in 1946.

AN EMG oak cased electric 78RPM gramophone
The EMG oak cased electric 78RPM gramophone, circa 1930, purchased new by accomplished conductor Norman Del Mar CBE. With original cone and bespoke stand. Provenance: From the Del Mar family. Estimate £1,000-1,500.

In fact, it was Beecham who recognised his potential on the podium, appointing him as his assistant conductor within months of the RPO forming, with Del Mar making his professional debut as a conductor with the RPO in 1947.

His career included a period as principal conductor of the English Opera Group (1949-54) and work with the BBC, starting in 1952 when he conducted the world premiere of Franz Reizenstein’s radio opera Anna Kraus with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Del Mar became chief conductor of the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra (1954), the BBC Symphony Orchestra (1960-65), the Royal Academy of Music orchestra (1974-77) and the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra (1985-88), as well as being permanent guest conductor with the Göteborg Symphony Orchestra from 1969–1973.

He also conducted the celebrated Last Night of The Proms on three occasions, in 1973, 1975 and 1983.

Away from the podium, Del Mar was an authority on Richard Strauss and wrote a three-volume work on his life and music.

He also made more than 70 recordings and was a lifelong record collector, in particular the music of Elgar, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Frederick Delius and Benjamin Britten. He had the honour of conducting the premiere recording of Britten’s children’s opera Noye’s Fludde.

His extensive collection of rare 78s is now held by the University of Southampton and Del Mar would have played those records on his personal gramophone, which has now been consigned by the family to John Nicholson’s Fine Antiques sale on September 1.

He purchased the c.1930 EMG cased electric 78rpm gramophone new and it is consigned with its original cone and bespoke stand. The estimate is £1,000-1,500.