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Barry Tuckwell

Barry Tuckwell (BT03) (Photographer=Terry Lane).jpg
Tuckwell in 2008
Background information
Born (1931-03-05)5 March 1931
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Died 16 January 2020(2020-01-16) (aged 88)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Genres classical
Occupation(s) soloist, conductor, teacher
Instruments French horn
Years active 1946–1997

Barry Emmanuel Tuckwell AC OBE (5 March 1931 – 16 January 2020) was an Australian horn player. He spent most of his professional life in the United Kingdom and the United States.

Early life and education

Barry Tuckwell was born on 5 March 1931 in Melbourne. His younger sister Patricia is a violinist and fashion model widely known as Bambi. She married a photographer and later George Lascelles, 7th Earl of Harewood, a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II.

Tuckwell became a chorister at St Andrew's Cathedral, Sydney where he studied the piano, organ, and violin. Then, at the age of 13, he started to learn the French horn. After six months he was playing it professionally. He studied at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music under Alan Mann, one of Australia's best known brass players.

Performing career


At 15, he was given the job of third horn with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. A year later, he joined the Sydney Symphony Orchestra which was conducted by Eugene Goossens, where he remained for three and a half years before leaving for England. His first appointment in 1951 was with the Hallé Orchestra, conducted by Sir John Barbirolli. After two years, he went to the Scottish National Orchestra conducted by Karl Rankl and a year later to the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra conducted by Charles Groves. In 1955, he was appointed first horn with the London Symphony Orchestra.

He spent 13 years with the LSO, which is a co-operative orchestra (the players themselves make decisions about how the orchestra should be run). He was elected to the Board of Directors and was Chairman of the Board for six years. The chief conductors during this time were Josef Krips, Pierre Monteux, István Kertész and André Previn.


Tuckwell left the orchestra in 1968 and spent the rest of his career performing as a soloist and conductor. He became very famous, making over 50 recordings and receiving three Grammy Award nominations. In 1962 he formed a trio with Brenton Langbein (violin) and Maureen Jones (piano) for a performance of the Horn Trio by Don Banks, which was commissioned by the Edinburgh Festival. The trio played together for many years, playing music by Johannes Brahms, Charles Koechlin and others. He also played in a wind quintet and was known as a conductor.

Many composers have written works for Barry Tuckwell. They include concertos by Oliver Knussen, Don Banks, Gunther Schuller, Robin Holloway, and Thea Musgrave. Richard Rodney Bennett wrote "Acteon" for horn and large orchestra for him.


Barry Tuckwell has written three important books on the horn and horn playing. For the Yehudi Menuhin Music Guides, he wrote the book on the horn. He wrote an excellent book on Playing the Horn as well as Fifty First Exercises.


Tuckwell is famous for his teaching. He has been Artist-in-Residence at Dartmouth College and Pomona College in the USA, and he was Professor of Horn at the Royal Academy of Music in London from 1963 until 1974. He taught at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore in the 1980s and 1990s. He was Professorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne and has for several years hosted the annual Barry Tuckwell Institute at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, Colorado.


Tuckwell died on 17 January 2020 in Melbourne from cardiovascular disease at the age of 88.

Awards and honours

Barry Tuckwell has received many honours, including the Order of the British Empire in 1965 and a Companion of the Order of Australia in 1992.

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