Romanian-born Constantin Silvestri was principal conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra from 1961 until his death from cancer in 1969 aged 55, two years after being granted British citizenship. It was certainly not material gain that tempted Silvestri to the seaside town of Bournemouth nor the kudos of association with an internationally famous orchestra. Inevitably the question was asked (and still is) why did someone who had already been the guest conductor of some of the world’s most renowned orchestras - the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics, the Concertgebouw, five of Britain’s most prestigious and two in the US - each time attracting audience enthusiasm and mainly favourable reviews, why did he choose to become principal conductor of a provincial orchestra, however worthy its reputation, and in a country with whose language he was barely acquainted?
What can be gleaned of Silvestri’s motives from his answer when this question was put to him in a television interview? ‘I was a teacher in Romania for ten years and a conductor is also a teacher... The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra has a national reputation, but I think in two or three years it will become internationally famous.’