Obituary: John Georgiadis (1939–2021)

The LSO is saddened to hear of the death of former Leader John Georgiadis on 5 January. 

John led the Orchestra for a total of eleven years from 1965 and 1973 and then returning from 1977 to 1979.

Working with Pierre Boulez in 1969

John Georgiadis working with Pierre Boulez in 1969

John was born in Southend on Sea and began playing the violin at the age of six. He studied at the Royal Academy of Music, and before joining the LSO spent two years as Leader of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. In 1965, at the age of just 26, he became the LSO’s Leader.

In 1972 while still with the LSO, John was a founding member of the London Virtuosi, a highly successful chamber ensemble, whose members included LSO Principals Anthony Camden (oboe) and Douglas Cummings (cello) and former LSO Principal James Galway (flute). He was their Leader and Music Director over many years.

Leaving the LSO in 1973, John developed a wide variety of professional pursuits including directing from the violin, working with young people, teaching and leading small orchestras and, most importantly, conducting.

He returned to the LSO in 1977 and on New Year’s Day that year, at the Royal Albert Hall, the LSO gave the first of many ‘Viennese’ concerts led from the violin by John. This tradition continued for 25 years moving to the Barbican in 1982 and being performed around the UK and on tours including the USA and Spain.

Shaking hands with Edward Heath after he had conducted Elgar's Cockaigne Overture in 1971

Shaking hand with Edward Heath after he had conducted Elgar's Cockaigne Overture in 1971

As a violinist, John appeared regularly as a concerto soloist and as recitalist both in the concert hall where he gave more than 250 performances and on record. From 1986 he spent four years as leader of the Gabrieli String Quartet.

During his second stint with the LSO, John worked with the legendary Romanian conductor, Sergiu Celibidache, and this led to him pursue a career in conducting. He spent eight arduous years studying with the maestro before travelling all over the world guest conducting many different orchestras, including the Bangkok Symphony (where he was Music Director from 1994-96) and the Malaysian Philharmonic. At home he worked as Music Director of the Bristol Sinfonia, was Director of Orchestral Studies at the Royal Academy of Music, and conducted the Essex Youth Orchestra for more than a decade.

Working with Jascha Horenstein, 1971

Working with Jascha Horenstein, 1971

In 2011 John was offered a part in the film Quartet as ‘Bill’ the 1st Violin in the in-house string quartet.

John took his movie camera with him on many of the LSO tours in the 1960s and these are available to view on YouTube:

Our thoughts are with his wife Monica, family and friends at this sad time.

Top photo: working with Karl Böhm at Henry Wood Hall in 1977 © Clive Barda