Picture a boy cycling 46 kilometers from Plymouth to Torquay on a pre-war bicycle; peddling furiously up hills in the quest of hearing beautiful music.

There was a lot of music in David Tidboald’s life, his mother sang and, as a boy, he accompanied her on piano; Plymouth is a naval port with a naval band; he even worked in a record shop selling LP records. But there was still more to be heard if you took the trouble of cycling to Torquay… One such excursion was to hear Benno Moiseiwitsch play. Some 45 years later, in 1962, he would himself be conducting the Cape Town Municipal Orchestra with Moiseiwitsch as guest pianist.

He was conscripted at the age of 18, however, being the end of the war, he saw no action. Instead he was able to choose his posting and he asked for Berlin. Since a boy he knew it was the world centre of music. He arrived in Berlin in 1945, a city ripped apart and yet, so important was music to the German psyche that music could be found everywhere and great names like Leopold Ludwig and Wilhelm Furtwängler become his mentors.

David wrote a candid memoir which tells of “People I Made Music With”. It is an impressive list and a charming tale; filled with insights into some of the world’s greatest names Dame Margot Fonteyn, Beryl Grey, Narcisco Yepes, Dame Flora Robson, Birgit Nilsson, Rita Streich….the names go on and on.

In this interview, recorded at the age of 90, he tells us of some of these, but its value is in the insights given to some of the world’s great conductors, their eccentricities, some haughty, some flamboyant, some arrogant, but all share, as he does most passionately, the love of music.

David Tidboald passed away on 2nd July 2018 aged 92

“…A conductor hardly ever feels triumphant…”


David with Birgit Nielsen

David with Dame Flora Robson