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Alfredo Campoli (1906 - 1991)

Campoli was born in Rome. His first teacher was his father - a professor of violin and leader of the St.Cecilia Conservatoire. His mother, a dramatic soprano, had toured with Caruso and played young Alfredo recordings of the great tenor Mattia Battistini who later acknowledged as a major influence on the bel canto style of playing which gave him an early reputation as a singing violinist and evinced praise from many conductors. He made his London debut in 1911 when he was only 5 and by the age of 10 was regularly playing recitals. Two years later he was temporarily banned from entering violin competitions because he always walked away with first prize! However, as early as 1919 he won a gold medal for his performance of the Mendelssohn Concerto which was presented by HRH Princess (later, Queen) Mary. At 15, he appeared at the Wigmore Hall and toured the British Isles with possibly the greatest women singers of the day, Dames Nellie Melba and Clara Butt.

In the difficult economic situation following the first war Campoli was forced to extend his musical activities to earn extra money and he formed his own highly successful light orchestra. It made him famous. For several years his was the resident orchestra at the fashionable Dorchester Hotel and his recordings on HMV, Columbia and Decca labels sold in thousands, although he still toured nationally as a classical artist when circumstances permitted. Campoli disbanded the orchestra in the second war to work untiringly for ENSA and CEMA, visiting forces training camps and playing in hospitals and munitions factories, where the enthusiasm of the public prompted him to enlarge his concerto repertory. Consequently, a Prom under Sir Henry Wood in 1944 saw him dazzling audiences with the Brahms Concerto, followed the next year by the Tchaikovsky.

Britain's four leading conductors - Beecham, Boult, Barbirolli and Sargent all adored him. After one BBC Home Service broadcast of the Brahms from Maida Vale Studios, Boult and his players cheered and applauded for a full three minutes, much to his delight and embarrassment. His performance of the Elgar Concerto with the Hallé Orchestra under Barbirolli at the Royal Festival Hall still lives in the memory of all who were privileged to see it, but Barbirolli refused to record the work for EMI as he had never forgiven them for not asking Kreisler to make the premiere recording. Over the years Campoli owned and played a Landolfi, a Rogarius and a Guadagnini violin. A most self-effacing, modest artist who hated to be labelled a Œvirtuoso¹, he would come quietly onto the platform, acknowledging the audience with a simple bow of the head and a smile. Wedging his violin under his generous double chin with a voluminous white silk handkerchief he would tune discreetly and speedily and be ready to play in seconds. The purity, simplicity, clarity and intonation of his playing were legendary as was his fabulous spiccato - achieved by lifting his fourth finger to enable the bow to rebound more easily. This became his trademark, instantly identifying him. Young violinists today could learn much from the recording.

Extra Tracks

Below are tracks from our library that never made it onto one of our compact discs. They can be downloaded here as high quality 320kbs AAC encoded (MP3) files.

Purchasers of tracks have unlimted personal use but must not pass or sell on to third parties nor broadcast without prior permission from PPL



campoli beethoven violin concerto
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1st movement
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2nd and 3rd movements
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Talking about beethoven violin concerto
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campoli elgar violin concerto
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1st movement
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2nd movement
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3rd movement
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"You might say that Campoli's urbane and warmly felt account is the nearest thing we have to a Kreisler Elgar Concerto." Robert Cowan in Gramphone February 2006

elgar la capricieuse campoli
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campoli bruch scottish fantasy
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1 Introduction and andantelisten and buy

2 Scherzo and andante sustenuto
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3 Finale
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corelli la folia
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"Campoli is always worth hearing, and the Beulah recording is more than tolerable." Brian Wilson at Music Web International

campoli bruch violin concerto number 1
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1st movement
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2nd movement
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3rd movement
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"Campoli makes a beautiful thing of the Max Bruch; he has the right idea about it and the power to express that idea. The spacings of the rubatos is admirable-- never overdone and always affecting. Bruch was associated much of his life with choral singing, and Campoli brings out the singing quality in his romantically musing piece. The performance is entirely convincing. From the point of view of recording, the violinist is given favoured-nation treatment ; most of the time it is good that he should dominate the music, but the positioning leads to a slight excess of vibrato in the slow movement (though the orchestral balance here is good) and to an almost isolated prominence in parts of the finale. The New Symphony Orchestra comes out well if not brilliantly as the accompanying medium. Its tone as reproduced here leans towards the reedy, but is variable; even the warmer-toned passages are never full-bodied, and this facts tends to minimise the proportions of the Concerto. The bass seems a little more remote than the rest of the orchestra. The whole work as thus presented is very enjoyable." H. F. writing in the Gramophone August 1951

campoli mendelssohn violin concerto
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1st and 2nd movements
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3rd movement
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"From the moment the violin enters Campoli plays with ardent bel canto tone...it is wonderful to hear even the trickiest passagework communicated with such clarity and with a sense of space and time...the sound throughout is full and clear, though slightly over reverberant at times"." Donald Ellman Classical Record Collector Spring 2010


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