Antonio de Almeida (conductor)

Antonio de Almeida (January 20, 1928-February 18, 1997) was a French conductor and musicologist of Portuguese-American descent.

He was born Antonio Jacques de Almeida in Neuilly-sur-Seine near Paris. His father was the financier Baron de Almeida Santos of Lisbon, his mother was the former Barbara Tapper of Pasadena.

Early Years

As a child he studied piano, showing great musical talent (although he admitted he was not an exceptional pianist). In the early 1940’s, he taught himself to play the clarinet by listening to recordings of Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw. When his family moved to Buenos Aires he studied with Alberto Ginastera. He studied nuclear chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Leading a student orchestra there, he realized he was more interested in music than in science. His godfather, pianist Artur Rubinstein convinced him to give up his full scholarship at M.I.T. He attended Yale University where he studied musical theory with Paul Hindemith He received his bachelor’s of music degree at Yale in 1949. He took conducting courses with Sergei Koussevitzky and Leonard Bernstein at the Tanglewood Music Center, and also studied conducting with George Szell.


He began conducting for Portuguese Radio in Lisbon in 1949, and soon after was appointed to his first conducting post at the Oporto Symphony Orchestra. While there, he invited Thomas Beecham to guest conduct the orchestra. He was the conductor of the Portuguese Radio in Lisbon (1957-1960) and Stuttgart Philharmonic (1962-1964). He worked at the Opéra National de Paris 1965-1967. He was principal guest conductor of the Houston Symphony (1969-1971) and then music director of the Orchestre philharmonique de Nice (1971-1978). He became the music director of the Moscow Symphony Orchestra in 1993, a position he held at his death.

His American debut came in November 1960 with the opening of the eighth subscription season of New York’s American Opera Society at The Town Hall. He led the Symphony of the Air in a concert version of Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice. New York Times reviewer Harold C. Schonberg wrote of the conductor “He knows his business. Cool, not flamboyant of gesture, capable, he held the performance together as nicely as one would desire”. He also wrote that “Mr. de Almeida is a conductor to watch”.


He made numerous recordings, specializing in French operas such as Ambroise ThomasMignon and Fromental Halévy’s La Juive. His recordings were instrumental in restoring compositions of Ernest Chausson, Henri Duparc, and Jules Massenet to the active repertory. He recorded ballet music from the operas of Gaetano Donizetti, Gioachino Rossini, and Giuseppe Verdi. With the Moscow Symphony he recorded orchestral works of Charles Tournemire, Henri Sauget, and Gian Francesco Malipiero. He recorded for many labels, including Columbia, EMI, Erato, Naxos, Philips and RCA.


An interest in the works of Jacques Offenbach began in the 1950’s, and by the 1970’s Almeida was known as an authority. He made numerous discoveries including previously unknown arias and a second-act finale for La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein. He prepared editions of Offenbach’s operas, and compiled a Thematic Catalogue of the Works of Jacques Offenbach, published posthumously by Oxford University Press in 2001.

He became co-artistic director (with H.C. Robbins Landon) of the Haydn Foundation in 1968. Under foundation’s auspices, he recorded a set of Joseph Haydn’s symphonies. He also edited a complete set of Luigi Boccherini’s symphonies for Doblinger in Vienna.

Personal Life

He was married to Lynn Erdman in 1953, their marriage ending in their divorce in 1988. The couple had two sons (Antonio de Almeida and Lawrence d'Almeida) and a daughter (Cecilia Frachesen). His son Antonio served as an engineer for the conductor’s Moscow Symphony recordings.

Despite his Portuguese/American parentage, he declared his nationality to be French, and he remained a citizen of France throughout his life. He spoke six languages fluently, and was well versed in Greek and Latin.

He died of liver and lung cancer on February 18, 1997 age 69 at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.


* Légion d'honneur Chevalier (1976) and later Commandeur
*Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (1996)


*"Antonio de Almeida, Head of the Moscow Symphony” Cleveland Plain Dealer, February 24, 1997, page 6B.
*Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians (2001)
*Hughes, Allen “Houston Symphony Names a 39-Year-Old Conductor”. New York Times, May 16, 1969, page 37.
*Kozinn, Allan. “Antonio de Almeida, Conductor And Offenbach's Champion, 69”, New York Times, February 21, 1997.
*New Grove Dictionary of Opera, 1992.
*Schonberg, Harold C. “Opera: Gluck’s Orfeo”. New York Times, November 2, 1960, page 43.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Antonio de Almeida — may refer to:* Antonio de Almeida (conductor) (1928 1997), French conductor * António José de Almeida (1866 1929), sixth president of Portugal *Antonio de Almeida e Costa (1932 ), Portuguese naval officer and politician *António de Almeida Santos …   Wikipedia

  • Antonio de Almeida —  pour le compositeur portugais, voir l article Francisco António de Almeida Antonio de Almeida (20 janvier 1928 – 18 février 1997) est un chef d’orchestre et musicologue français d’ascendance américaine et portugaise. Né Antonio Jacques de… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Antonio Carlos Jobim — Infobox musical artist Name = Tom Jobim Background = solo singer Birth name = Antonio Carlos Brasileiro de Almeida Jobim Alias = Antonio Carlos Jobim, Tom Jobim Born = birth date|1927|1|25|mf=y Died = death date and age|1994|12|8|1927|1|25 Origin …   Wikipedia

  • Joly Braga Santos — José Manuel Joly Braga Santos, ComSE (pron. IPA2|ʒɔ li bɾagɐ sɐ̃tuʃ), (May 14, 1924 July 18, 1988) was a Portuguese composer and conductor, who was born and died in Lisbon. He wrote six symphonies.BiographyJosé Manuel Joly Braga Santos was born… …   Wikipedia

  • Hamlet (opera) — Hamlet is an opera in five acts by the French composer Ambroise Thomas, with the libretto by Michel Carré and Jules Barbier based on Shakespeare s Hamlet and a French adaptation of the play by Alexandre Dumas and Paul Meurice. The work was… …   Wikipedia

  • Jacques Offenbach — Offenbach in the 1860s Jacques Offenbach (20 June 1819 – 5 October 1880) was a Prussian born French composer, cellist and impresario. He is remembered for his nearly 100 operettas of the 1850s–1870s and his uncompleted opera The Tales of Hoffmann …   Wikipedia

  • June Anderson — (born December 30, 1952) is a Grammy award winning American coloratura soprano. Originally known for bel canto performances of Rossini, Donizetti, and Vincenzo Bellini, she was the first non Italian ever to win the prestigious Bellini d Oro prize …   Wikipedia

  • Deaths in 1997 — For earlier deaths, see Deaths in 1996, 1995, 1994, 1993, 1992 1991, ... For later deaths, see Deaths in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, ... Contents 1 …   Wikipedia

  • music — musicless, adj. /myooh zik/, n. 1. an art of sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions in significant forms through the elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, and color. 2. the tones or sounds employed, occurring in single line (melody) or… …   Universalium

  • Mignon — For other uses, see Mignon (disambiguation). Ambroise Thomas …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.