This revered violinist was remarkable for the exquisite tone he drew from his Stradivarius (the Dragonetti, dated 1700), as well as his comprehensive musicianship. His interests embraced works from the Classical period through compositions written by the composers of his own time. His collaborations with the best conductors were always of a special order: two great artists meeting for the full realization of works they both valued. Campoli was born to a father who taught violin at Rome's Accademia Santa Cecilia and a mother who had retired from a career of concert and operatic performance. At the age of five, Alfredo began his musical studies with his father. Several years later, after the family had moved to London, the child was heard in a series of concerts given for English forces at YMCA facilities. At the age of 13, Campoli began entering competitions, eventually winning seven first prizes, a silver cup, and two gold medals. One of these was presented to him by Princess Mary at the 1919 London Music Festival after a performance of Mendelssohn's violin concerto. Campoli's professional debut came with a recital at London's Wigmore Hall. In the aftermath of his success there, offers came from all regions of the country for both recital engagements and solo appearances with England's premiere orchestras. Given the depressed state of the British economy, Campoli pursued a career in light music during the 1930s, gaining celebrity for his radio broadcasts with his Salon Orchestra. Smaller settings, afforded him by his Welbeck Light Quartet and his trio, also heightened his popularity with the public. At the same time, Campoli maintained a schedule of performances, if a less arduous one, devoted to serious music. With Sir Henry Wood, he appeared at a 1938 Promenade Concert. Prior to the beginning of WWII, Campoli disbanded his Salon ensemble and stood ready to provide concerts for British forces. Initially, Campoli's Italian citizenship stood in the way of his broadcasting, but eventually that obstacle was cleared. In any event, it did not interfere with the innumerable concerts the violinist gave for troops in hospitals and army camps and for British workers keeping up the war effort in the nation's factories. Upon the conclusion of hostilities, Campoli resumed his career, concentrating on serious music and making extended tours of Europe, Southeast Asia, New Zealand, and Australia. Appearing once more on regular BBC programs, he eventually amassed a total of more than 1,000 broadcasts. Recordings for British Columbia and HMV also added to Campoli's expanding audience. Campoli's American debut came as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic on December 5, 1953, when he performed Lalo's Symphonie espagnole under conductor George Szell. Later, the violinist undertook several American tours. In 1956, he toured the Soviet Union as part of a troop of British artists (the first since WWII) and was subsequently invited to return to perform in orchestral concerts. Campoli's recorded artistry maintains as persuasive a hold on the imagination as it did in concert. However sensuous, the beautifully sculpted tone never cloys. The violinist's grace and ease prompted from certain conductors (Boult, for example) a less-confined, less emotionally restricted performance. Campoli's ability to invest a full measure of life into his work while never letting his tone slip out of focus is uncanny. Several discs on the Beulah label reissue incomparable Decca performances.
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