Richard Bradshaw    WGS 1955-      Six obituaries are printed lower down the page     Home

Richard was a truly famous O.G.  At School he was clearly a highly talented musician and won plaudits in all the House Music Competitions.  He was organist at Higham Ferrers Parish Church for several years (he studied organ under the great Harold Darke) and played at my wedding – a tour de force which I shall never forget!  He also set up “Music at Higham” , which brought top quality classical music and performers to Higham for many years.     R.I.P.  David Wilson (1952)

I knew Brad well.  The only thing they've missed out is that he worked for the National Coal Board (RIP) when he left university.  Same age as me.  Makes you think!  Best regards   Peter Baxter (1954)

Richard Bradshaw studied the flute with Ralph Pettitt of Wollaston Road, Irchester. He was a fine player, and could have played professionally (he spent a time with the RAF Central Band during WWII); however he preferred the security of the boot & shoe trade, and was head clicker for Grenson of Rushden. He died quite unexpectedly in his 50s, and his widow died three years ago. As for the organ, he learned privately (on Saturday afternoons) with Richard Brudenell (also of Wollaston Road, Irchester). After each lesson Richard's wife Cynthia would prepare Richard's favourite tea - herrings.     Peter Baxter  (1954)

Having read with sadness of the death of Richard Bradshaw I would like to record a memory of him perhaps few are aware of. As a schoolboy he lived near Spencer Park in Rushden and he was a fanatic park cricketer.  We would be just generally mucking about in the park and Bradshaw would turn up unannounced with bat, ball and wickets, set up and insist we play with him. I remember him as a strong character, very precise and exact in his dealings and great fun to be with...although "slightly" more academic than us!!! He really loved his sport as a boy. Regards Roger Brown 1954-1961

Mr. Bradshaw was born in Rugby, England, in 1944, was raised at Higham Ferrers, went to Wellingborough Grammar School and graduated from the University of London in 1965.  He studied conducting and worked as a choral director in London and at the Glyndebourne Festival Opera before taking up a position as resident conductor at the San Francisco Opera Company in 1977. He made a guest performance with the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto in 1988. The following year, he accepted an appointment with the company as chief conductor and head of music, just as then-premier Bob Rae pulled the plug on government support for the $360-million Moshe Safdie-designed ballet-opera house. During his tenure, he conducted more than 60 operas and took the COC on a hugely successful tour to the Edinburgh Festival.

"It's a terrible loss, a terrible loss," said architect Jack Diamond, on holiday in Nova Scotia. Describing Mr. Bradshaw as a force with a huge persona, he said that "without his drive, we would not have had an opera house." Although he was shocked by the news of Mr. Bradshaw's death, Mr. Diamond, who had worked with Mr. Bradshaw for a decade on the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, said it was not unexpected. "We always had that fear. He drove himself and travelled a lot and he was overweight and choleric and he had an aversion to hospitals and doctors."  Above largely taken from:


Canadian Who’s Who 1997

Richard James BRADSHAW

BRADSHAW, Richard James, B.A.; conductor, artistic director; b. Rugby, England 1944; e. London Univ. B.A. (Hons.) 1965; CONDUCTOR, ARTISTIC DIR. AND MUSIC DIR., CANADIAN OPERA COMPANY 1994-- ; Founder & Music Dir. Music at Higham 1968; Conductor, The Saltarello Choir 1972-75; Founder & Music Dir., New London Ensemble 1972; Chorus Dir., Glyndebourne Fest. Opera 1975-77; Resident, Conductor, San Francisco Opera 1977-89; Chief Conductor & Head of Music, Cdn. Opera Co. 1989-93; Guest Conductor, Glyndebourne Fest., Santa Fe Opera, Seattle Opera, Opéra de Montréal, Edmonton Opera & in Washington, Montpellier, Toulouse, Frankfurt (Alte Opera), N.Y. City Opera and with C.O.C. at Edinburgh Fest. and Melbourne Internat. Fest.; in orch. career has appeared with London, BBC, & Royal Philharmonic Orchs., City of Birmingham Symphony Orch., London Mozart Players; City of London Sinfonia; regular assns. with Hong Kong Philharmonic & Rotterdam Philharmonic; comnd. & conducted a number of orch. & operatic new works: major operatic world premieres incl. John Eaton The Tempest Sante Fe 1985, Harry Somers Mario and the Magician Toronto 1992; Visiting appts., Univ. of Calif. at Berkeley and Irvine 1981-83; Smith Visitor in Music, Univ. of Toronto 1990; Guest Artist, Juilliard Sch. 1990-- ; Assoc. Fellow, Massey Coll., Univ. of Toronto 1995; recreations: skiing, looking at buildings, books, organ music of Bach; Office Toronto, Ont.


Six Obituaries are printed below

From The Times September 4, 2007

Richard Bradshaw

British conductor who campaigned tirelessly to see the successful opening of

Canada’s first purpose-built opera house

The Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto, opened last year as the first purpose-built opera house in Canada, will be remembered as Richard Bradshaw’s greatest legacy. As general director and conductor of the Canadian Opera Company, he campaigned tirelessly for the building, whose triumphant unveiling marked the end of the bureaucratic and financial wrangles that Bradshaw compared to the Thirty Years War. In the 130 years since the premiere of Wagner’s Ring and the simultaneous opening of the Festspielhaus in Bayreuth, no one had ventured to inaugurate a new opera house with a new production of Wagner’s tetralogy, and it was characteristic of Bradshaw’s boldness that he chose to do exactly that. Bradshaw worked no less energetically over the years in building up the COC’s orchestra, and its playing of that Ring was world class. Simultaneously, he brokered a remarkable staging by four different directors. Having settled the company in the theatre – whose austere but elementally Canadian exterior includes a glass frontage that sheds light on a beech and maplewood foyer, and houses a modern horseshoe auditorium – Bradshaw ought to have been able to enjoy the fruits of his labour. His death from a heart attack denied him that fulfilment, but his name will live on in the venue’s Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. Exactly 30 years ago Bradshaw left his Glyndebourne apprenticeship for San Francisco Opera, intending to spend a few years there gaining experience before returning to England. Although personal and professional visits drew him back to Europe regularly, his career quickly developed along essentially North American lines. Yet the bon vivant Bradshaw would have to be described as Anglo-American: alongside the dapper Englishness that never evaporated, he exuded a North American can-do charisma. He may have been shy about it, he was undeniably good at the North-American-style schmooze so necessary in that part of the operatic world. He became the most outspoken voice on the Canadian arts scene, not least when it came to matters of funding. Richard James Bradshaw was born in Rugby in 1944 and grew up (as an only child) in Rushden and Higham Ferrers. He played the organ in church from the age of 12 and he attended Wellingborough Grammar School and was a regular visitor to London concerts. As a teenager he went to Paris as often as possible, haunting the organ lofts there. An obsession with the sound-world of French organ music set him on a wider Francophile course – though even at the time of his death he still held an honorary organ post at the Basilica of the Daurade in Toulouse. While reading English at London University, he studied organ with Harold Darke and conducting with Adrian Boult. In 1972, at the suggestion of Colin Davis, who had heard him conduct a concert in Southwark Cathedral, he was selected for the Calouste Gulbenkian Conductors Seminar with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, where he worked with Charles Groves. In the same year he became founding music director of the Saltarello Choir and Music at Higham, which quickly established itself as one of the leading concert societies outside London, a status recognised by generous subsidy from the Arts Council. Exciting projects ranged from early music to contemporary work, and many of the best young professionals began to tour the country under Bradshaw. London concerts followed, leading to the birth of the New London Ensemble. In 1975 he went as chorus director to Glyndebourne, where he met his future wife, Diana Hepburne-Scott. Working also as a répétiteur, he was soon apprenticed to John Pritchard, and enjoyed a baptism of fire collabo-rating with Jean-Pierre Ponnelle on Verdi’s Falstaff when illness put Pritchard out of action. Bradshaw’s festival debut proper was not for another decade, when he returned to Sussex to take charge of Peter Hall’s production of L’incoronazione di Poppea. He returned the following year for Porgy and Bess. By then he was already well established on the US West Coast. Appointed in 1977 as chorus master at San Francisco Opera, and subsequently resident conductor, he conducted a range of repertoire and some of that period’s finest stars. He also worked in Seattle, New York and at Santa Fe, where throughout the 1980s and 1990s he was a regular visitor, conducting among other things first American performances of operas by Hans Werner Henze and Siegfried Matthus. Arriving at the Canadian Opera Company as chief conductor in 1989, Bradshaw became artistic director in 1993 and assumed the general directorship in 1997. He conducted – his style was always viscerally exciting – more than 60 operas during his 18-year career in Toronto, including many nonstandard works and world premieres. No less distinctively, his reinvigoration of the company was marked by the engagement of innovative directors from the worlds of film and theatre, including Atom Egoyan, Robert Lepage and François Girard. It was with Lepage’s double bill of Bartók’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle and Schoenberg’s Erwartungthat the COC made its international debut at the Edinburgh Festival in 1993, a success repeated in Melbourne, Hong Kong and New York. The COC’s Stravinsky double bill, directed by Girard, was a similar hit at the 2002 Edinburgh Festival. Bradshaw was named a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters of the French Republic in 2000. More recent honours included an honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Toronto and the Order of Ontario. His unshakeable belief in opera’s importance informed all his work in Toronto, including the establishment of a young artists’ studio and massive ticket concessions for the under30s. Toronto showed its gratitude with ovations whenever he appeared in the orchestra pit, and at a packed funeral in St James Cathedral. Bradshaw is survived by his wife, Diana, and their son and daughter. Richard Bradshaw, conductor and opera administrator, was born on April 26, 1944. He died of a heart attack on August 15, 2007, aged 63 - entertainment -

How do you replace Bradshaw? You don't

Aug 18, 2007 04:30 AM Martin Knelman

After a thrilling night at the opera, my wife asked: "What did Toronto ever do to deserve Richard Bradshaw?" I had no answer then, and in this week of his shockingly sudden death at age 63, I have no answer now. Let's just say it was a stroke of luck. Or maybe it was kismet. Now a more urgent question looms: "How do you replace Bradshaw?" To which I do have an answer: You don't. The Canadian Opera Company's board will have to do an extensive search to come up with the right person to take over as its general director, and it may have to do another search to come up with the right person to take over as music director and chief conductor. But it would be folly to look for one person to do everything Bradshaw did.  He was a one-of-a-kind superman – not just a great musician and a great CEO but a dazzling politician (we could have used him as mayor), a wizardly money-raiser (capable of seducing even donors who hated opera) and a provocative talker (the liveliest luncheon companion I've ever known). For me, he was also a great source. Even his phone calls were unmissable. Sample: "You didn't hear this from me but I thought you might want to know the Westons are giving $20 million to the ROM." Bradshaw first came to Toronto in 1988 as a guest conductor from San Francisco, where he had been waving his baton for the San Francisco Opera since moving there from the U.K., the only country of which he was ever a citizen. According to John Fraser, who showed him around on his first visit, Bradshaw almost immediately fell in love with this city. In 1989, he became the COC's director of music, and in 1994 he was named artistic director when the company was at a low point. Never mind. To Bradshaw this wasn't just a job; it was his life's mission to build an opera house. Most people thought he was out of his mind, but Bradshaw didn't care what most people thought, and he never took no for an answer. Sometimes his talk was too provocative for cautious colleagues who felt arts workers should be humble beggars. Bradshaw preferred to make sharp remarks. Peers feared he would antagonize power brokers but Bradshaw gambled that controversy would be ultimately more successful than making nice. Of course he was right. That's why Toronto has an opera house. Not just any opera house, but an intimate, acoustically perfect opera house where singers, directors and musicians from all over the world are eager to work. He would like to have had a few years to enjoy leading the great orchestra he shaped in the dream house for which he twisted some of the most distinguished arms in Toronto. That was not to be. But Bradshaw went out working at the top of his game. Just months after the Four Seasons opened, he scaled the heights of the opera world with a sublime Ring cycle. No wonder he was given the Governor General's performing arts award and named CEO of the year. Had he died without achieving all this, the COC might have a hard time finding suitable candidates to take his job. But by giving Toronto a case of opera mania and putting this city on the cultural map, Richard Bradshaw has made his position seem like one of the most desirable arts jobs in the world.

Bradshaw a master builder, hero to the arts    The Globe and Mail



From Saturday's Globe and Mail

August 17, 2007 at 11:07 PM EDT


Opera has many heroes; few of them are found in orchestra pits. Richard Bradshaw came to the Canadian Opera Company in 1989 in a supporting role, but by the time he died on Wednesday night, he had become a hero in the opera community and in his adopted city of Toronto.

He was the kind of figure that many arts organizations see only once, a master builder who raised his company to a permanently higher level. His monument stands on a busy corner in downtown Toronto, where the opera house he dreamed of for two decades opened scarcely a year ago.

All this past year, the company's first season in the new Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, Bradshaw's entry into the pit on performance nights became a ritual moment for the audience, which never failed to give him a long, loud ovation. I'm sure that as someone who knew the ups and downs of a life in the theatre, he was both flattered and amused to be cheered before a single note had been played.

He was a man of large appetites and tremendous spirit, who in our last extended conversations told me that the only irresponsible option in art was to avoid taking risks. At crucial moments in his career, Bradshaw took bold chances whose benefits will long outlast him.

He had a diplomat's sense of where alliances could be built, and a field commander's instinct for the timely seizure of new ground.

Conductor Richard Bradshaw during rehearsal of Seattle Opera's 1989 production of Puccini's MADAM BUTTERFLY. (Mary McInnis)

He was a wit and a great storyteller, who loved to appear to be letting you in on a secret whose exposure usually moved him a small step closer to some strategic objective.It's strange to think how easily he might have missed finding his true life's work. When he arrived at the COC 18 years ago, he was an itinerant opera conductor who had never led a major company. He was hired not as artistic director but as chief conductor, essentially the same job he had held for 12 years at the larger, more prestigious San Francisco Opera. He was given a narrow mandate to improve musical standards in a company that was preparing for rapid growth and a move into a new ballet-opera house.

The house never happened, the economy went sour, and the company's general director, Brian Dickie, left abruptly with five years still on his contract. After a cursory search for a replacement, the board named Bradshaw artistic director in early 1994.

The predictable next act would have seen the new man making all the hard choices and painful cuts, before being nudged aside for a more experienced leader. The budget shrank 8 per cent during Bradshaw's first year, and subscription sales were crumbling. But if opera was a poker game, and he was a player with a shaky hand, he much preferred to double his bet than to fold. He was soon building ambitious productions that the company really couldn't afford, and making annual raids on its modest endowment fund.

The COC seemed headed for disaster when Bradshaw became general director in 1998. But he had already half-convinced the board and many donors that his optimistic vision of the company's future could become true.

His COC was a broad endeavour that engaged artists from film, theatre, dance and literature (and by extension, the audiences for those forms), as well as a civic project that needed a proper place to flourish. He understood the importance not just of putting on good shows, but of making the art form itself seem exciting and even hip. He engineered a gradual change in the COC's public image and sense of self that had begun when Dickie brought in Robert Lepage and Michael Levine for the company's landmark 1993 production of Schoenberg's Erwartung and Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle.

Bradshaw built on that success, the COC's cultural credit began to rise and an adventurous new audience joined the old one. Against all odds, Bradshaw charmed and lobbied and bullied his way to a new opera house. His most daring gambit may have been to announce that the company would begin staging Wagner's four-part Ring cycle in 2003 (later postponed by a year), and in the next breath to say that it was “inconceivable” for such a thing to happen without a new theatre.

At that point the company still had no land and no proof of government support. Bradshaw had said for years that the company needed a place to do big projects like the Ring; now he was insisting that the hall must be built because the Ring was going to happen there.

It was a crazy-brave move, and he knew it. He compared himself to the poker-playing heroine of Puccini's The Girl of the Golden West, who wins the game with an extra deck of cards hidden in her stocking. “I must think I've got another pack,” he said.

All the while, he was continuing with his very first mandate: to improve musical standards. The COC orchestra improved enormously during his tenure. Many gifted Canadian voices passed through the COC ensemble, though Canadians could be sparse in shows whose casts sometimes seemed to have been airlifted en masse from Eastern Europe. But in recent years, Canadian singers such as Isabel Bayrakdarian, Adrianne Pieczonka, Michael Schade and Russell Braun took leading roles in COC performances and on the company's seven CD recordings for the CBC.

Bradshaw expanded the COC's repertoire to include major operas by Janacek, Debussy and Mussorgsky, as well as rare but important works by Rossini, Stravinsky and Handel. He programmed contemporary operas by Hans Werner Henze and Poul Ruders, and made a success of them. But in his 13 years as artistic head, he brought only one Canadian opera to the company's mainstage. His flair for building alliances didn't extend to those who might have helped develop a strong Canadian repertoire for the COC.

As a conductor, he had a practical, down-to-earth approach. His performances emphasized energy, precision and balance. He was often less effective at exposing the poetic aspects of a score. His great talent was for bringing together all the forces that an opera company needs, both onstage and off.

Last year's Ring cycle, the biggest single project he and the company had ever attempted, was a triumph beyond Bradshaw's own high expectations. He often talked about the lure of the “unobtainable ticket,” and last season that became true for the COC, which sold out its entire first year at the Four Seasons.

Bradshaw died at the peak of his achievement and popularity. It would be absurd to say his work was done; he was only 63, and had great plans for the future, including the COC premiere (later this season) of Janacek's From the House of the Dead, and a promised rendezvous with Prokofiev's War and Peace. But the goals he had set his heart on had been achieved. He fought the good fight with all his strength, and as far as is possible in the arts, he lived a hero's life.


Singing the praises of an opera director

MICHAEL POSNER Globe and Mail Archive August 16, 2007 at 3:09 PM EDT

Editor's note: This piece was published Thursday, December 28, 2006 June 16, 2006.

Baton in hand, Richard Bradshaw stands on the podium. Before him sit the 70-odd members of the Canadian Opera Company orchestra, playing the death scene from Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov. Behind him, in the auditorium, an invited audience of COC friends and patrons come to celebrate an evening many thought would never arrive: the imminent opening of Toronto's $181-million Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. For Mr. Bradshaw, the COC's general director, this is the consummate moment. Rendered all the more meaningful by the power of the music, it's the culmination of an impossible decade. Of lobbying, schmoozing, fundraising, pleading, cajoling, squeezing, begging and, yes, praying -- what Mr. Bradshaw has famously referred to as the Thirty Years War.

When the piece concludes, he rushes off stage, overcome, brushing past well-wishers, tears welling in his eyes. 

"That was a pretty amazing experience," he says now. "You really had to hold on." But one must be careful of such emotional surrenders, he adds. Armed with an amusing quip or anecdote for every occasion,

Richard Bradshaw, General Director of the Canadian Opera Company, seen by the podium in the orchestra pit of the Four Seasons Centre for the Perfoming Arts in December 2006. (FRED LUM/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

 Mr. Bradshaw remembers what the British director John Dexter once said: "If you weep, they won't." They, as in the audience.  No worries on that score. Far from weeping, it's been a ringing chorus of bravo, bravissimo, maestro. There have been rave reviews for the 2,000-seat centre itself, the flawless acoustics, intimate ambience and easy sight lines – several light years of improvement over the cavernous Hummingbird Centre, of which the COC was a long-suffering tenant. Critics everywhere hailed the company's ambitious opening production – Wagner's epic, four-opera Ring Cycle, Der Ring des Nibelungen, vindicating Mr. Bradshaw's desire to push the creative envelope. And under his stewardship, his friend Jack Diamond says, the Canadian Opera Company, once considered a second-tier company, is now "a formidable force in the world of opera." It has been, Richard Bradshaw modestly allows, "a good year." Opera, of course, carries the burden of a certain elitism and some have questioned the necessity of a new opera house. The conventional riposte is that every great city of the world has an opera house at or near its cultural heart – Milan's La Scala, the Met in New York, Covent Garden in London, the Palais Garnier in Paris. But Mr. Bradshaw prefers another answer. "If we do it well enough, there's no reason why anyone should not care about opera. I really believe that. Opera is a fusion of all the art forms. Given a chance, an opera house could become important to the lives of people, even to those who might not ordinarily think about attending." Of course, as he would be the first to tell you, the achievement is not his alone. There is Mr. Diamond the architect, whose firm designed and – a rarity for a project of this size – brought the building in on time and on budget. There is McCarthy Tétrault lawyer Arthur Scace, then chair of the COC board, whom Mr. Bradshaw calls " a rock." Mr. Scace more than once used his signature to guarantee delivery of funds. And there are the donors – in major and minor keys: Isadore Sharp's luxury hotel chain, which ponied up $20-million for principal naming rights; the opera-board members ($23-million); the late R. Fraser Elliott, who donated another $10-million; and myriad other benefactors. "It really was a fantastic team," Mr. Bradshaw says, deflecting the accolades. "If I'm good at one thing, it's putting people in place and letting them get on with it." But make no mistake. Without Mr. Bradshaw's drive and unrelenting commitment, the cherished dream of a purpose-built opera house would long ago have foundered on political or financial reefs. "I had moments of great anxiety," Mr. Bradshaw concedes. "I'd wake up in the night with a certain terror. But I don't think I ever believed it wasn't going to happen. I don't think I ever absolutely despaired because I don't think the most important thing in life to me is the opera house. The most important thing in my professional life is whatever the company is doing. That's where I'm lucky to be a conductor. Because if all you're ever fighting is insufficient funds, that's a burn-out factor." His friend, confidante and sometime tennis rival, Douglas Stoute, reverend at Toronto's St. James Cathedral – Bradshaw is there almost every Sunday – underscores the point. "Richard is both cultural entrepreneur and musician," he says, "but the opera house for him is secondary. There will be beautiful music with or without it." The opera-house story has so many plot twists it might be an opera itself. Its 62-year-old hero is a fundamentally shy but oddly ebullient, rubicund, barrel-chested, silver-maned polymath, fluent in five languages. The only child of an accountant, raised in Higham Ferrers, a village in England's Northamptonshire, he was both musically precocious (he was playing the church organ at 12) and a gifted athlete (soccer and cricket). He put away the games at 17 to concentrate on music. Via the United Kingdom's Glyndebourne Festival and a 12-year stint under the autocrat Kurt Adler in San Francisco, he joined the Canadian Opera Company in 1989 as chief conductor, became artistic director in 1994 and general director four years later – the first musician to lead the company in four decades. When he took over, the Canadian Opera Company had lost $4-million in three years and morale was mired in the oceanic depths. The future home had been through a series of plans, including the infamous $330-million joint ballet/opera house, spiked by Bob Rae's NDP government, and various schemes involving developers stacking high-rise condos atop the opera site. Those, too, foundered; Mr. Bradshaw was delighted. "The footprint wasn't big enough. It would have been such a compromise." Eventually, all prospective partners, including the National Ballet, dropped out. Mr. Bradshaw told his board they had to go it alone. He lured Mr. Scace back to the board, offering him the chair, retained Mr. Diamond, browbeat government agencies indefatigably, attended with his wife, Diana – "the power behind the throne," according to opera teacher Iain Scott – more receptions than he cared to, and carefully explained, as his friend, historian Margaret McMillan says, "why people who might not otherwise contribute to opera, should." And he never forgot the music.


Richard Bradshaw, Opera Director, Dies at 63



Published: August 18, 2007

Richard Bradshaw, the conductor and general director of the Canadian Opera Company who pushed through the construction of a major new opera house in Toronto, died on Wednesday night. He was 63. A spokeswoman for the opera company confirmed his death but could not corroborate reports that he had died of a heart attack at Toronto Pearson International Airport while returning from a vacation. Mr. Bradshaw recently completed the most successful season of his career, which began with the opening of the Four Seasons Center for the Performing Arts in June 2006. In the fall, he conducted the first complete staging of Wagner’s “Ring” in Canada at the center. He referred to the building of the new house as “the Thirty Years’ War.” For winning that war, Anthony Tommasini referred to Mr. Bradshaw in The New York Times as “the hero of Toronto.”  Few might have predicted that Mr. Bradshaw would take the struggling company so far when, after five years as its head of music and chief conductor, he took over as artistic director in 1994. (He was named general director in the wake of a reorganization in 1998.) Brian Dickie, his predecessor, had departed abruptly, and the company was in financial turmoil. Mr. Bradshaw was well liked by the musicians, and he had helped to improve the company’s musical standards. But although he had conducted at major houses around the world, to some acclaim, his was hardly a glamour appointment.

Yet it was ultimately a galvanizing one. Even before the new theater was finished, Mr. Bradshaw had notably raised the company’s international reputation, championing new works and mounting sometimes controversial stagings like Atom Egoyan’s “Salome” and Robert Lepage’s double bill of “Bluebeard’s Castle” and “Erwartung.” Richard Bradshaw was born in Rugby, England, in 1944 and grew up in the village of Higham Ferrers in Northamptonshire. His father, an accountant, was passionate about music, and he began studying piano at the age of 8; by 12, he was the organist at the village church, although he was at least as committed to cricket. He graduated from the University of London with an honors degree in English, studied conducting with Adrian Boult and later worked as an assistant to John Pritchard. He revered the conductor Colin Davis, who helped get him an audition that led to a Gulbenkian Conducting Fellowship with the Royal Liverpool Orchestra. Mr. Bradshaw subsequently served as chorus master at Glyndebourne (from 1975 to 1977) and resident conductor at the San Francisco Opera (from 1977 to 1989). His other engagements included a long association with the Santa Fe Opera, where he led several world premieres, including “The Tempest” by John Eaton and “Ashoka’s Dream” by Peter Lieberson. He is survived by his wife, Diana, and two children, James and Jenny, of Toronto. “The only thing you can do in the arts that is irresponsible,” he said in a 2005 interview, “is not to take risks.”


Obituary   The Independent

Richard Bradshaw Canadian Opera Company hero

Published: 21 August 2007

Richard James Bradshaw, conductor and opera manager: born Rugby, Warwickshire 26 April 1944; chorus director, Glyndebourne Festival 1975-77; resident conductor, San Francisco Opera 1977-89; chief conductor and head of music, Canadian Opera Company 1989-94, artistic director 1994-98, general director 1998-2007; married 1977 The Hon Diana Hepburne-Scott (one son, one daughter); died Toronto, Ontario 15 August 2007. Cultural leaders rarely become national heroes but Richard Bradshaw, the charismatic British-born opera conductor who raised the Canadian Opera Company to international credibility, and effectively willed Canada's only purpose-built opera house into existence, came remarkably close. His sudden death last week was headline news across Canada and unleashed a flood of public grief. A website comment posted by one Mary Mackie aptly captured the public sentiment: "What a loss. What a sorrow. But what a legacy!" As a lad growing up in Higham Ferrers in Northamptonshire, Bradshaw fell in love with opera at a village-hall performance of The Marriage of Figaro. Regular visits to a concert-going aunt in London fuelled his inchoate devotion to music. He was a paid church organist in his teens, and studied the piano, but was equally enamoured of sports and trainspotting. At his accountant father's behest, Bradshaw studied English at University College London, but his heart was set on conducting. He studied privately with Adrian Boult and secured a Gulbenkian Conducting Fellowship to work with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra under Charles Groves, serving also as assistant to John Pritchard. In 1975 Bradshaw became a junior member of the Glyndebourne music staff, successfully wooed the daughter of the 10th Lord Polwarth, Diana, and left two years later to become resident conductor of the San Francisco Opera under its notoriously imperious general director, Kurt Adler. Bradshaw credited Adler with providing a thorough education in all aspects of opera production and management. By the late 1980s, Bradshaw was planning to resettle his family in Paris, the intended launch pad for a European conducting career, but in 1989 was persuaded by the then general director of the Canadian Opera Company (COC), Brian Dickie, an old friend from Glyndebourne, to oversee a revitalisation of the company's orchestra. Bradshaw did not know it, but his life's work was about to begin. Opinions varied widely about Bradshaw's musical stature. Some critics found his interpretations unsubtle, yet singers generally adored him and the professional training programme he fostered at the COC has seen the graduation of several now illustrious singers, among them Ben Heppner, Michael Schade and Isabel Bayrakdarian. Bradshaw's handling of the French repertoire and of 20th-century operatic composers was notably masterful. Most importantly, he transformed the orchestra into a truly fine ensemble, unusually winning its players' affection in the process. The COC, relegated to performing since 1961 in a monstrous, multi- purpose culture barn in Toronto called the O'Keefe (now Hummingbird) Centre, had dreamt of owning a real opera house almost from its inception and when Bradshaw arrived this had seemed tantalisingly close. Within a year, however, plans for a lavish C$330m, Moshe Safdie-designed ballet-opera house had unravelled amidst a souring economy and government betrayal. Dickie refocused on raising the company's artistic profile, culminating in an internationally acclaimed 1993 double bill of Bluebeard's Castle and Ewartung, conducted by Bradshaw and directed by Robert Lepage. The deficit, however, sky-rocketed. When Dickie left soon after, the COC's board of directors split the leadership between a general manager and Bradshaw as artistic director. His success earned him the general directorship in 1998, by which time Bradshaw was convinced that a new opera house during his tenure was possible. "Of course, there were people who thought I must be smoking something or had gone completely mad or was merely grandstanding," he said. "But I wasn't. I really believed it." An on-again-off-again rollercoaster ride then began as one plan after another gathered momentum and ground to a halt. Bradshaw never wavered. "You see, for me it was always about the art," he said. "And as long as you keep looking ahead, you tend not to get stuck on the roadblocks." "In the worst moments," says Kevin Garland, executive director of the National Ballet of Canada, "Richard would just bounce up again and keep going." Finally, last September, though visibly aged by the toll of campaigning, Bradshaw was able to lift his baton in Toronto's acoustically superb C$185m Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts - named for the hotel company which had made a C$20m donation - to conduct Canada's first fully-staged production of Wagner's Ring Cycle. Exclaimed Bradshaw: "It's more than we ever dreamed of." Bradshaw, despite his ebullient public persona essentially shy and humble, was swift to deflect credit - he called himself a catalyst - but nobody doubted that without him, the COC's new home would never have been built. "Richard was a fantastic driving force," says the hall's Canadian architect, Jack Diamond. "He stuck with it through thick and thin." In its first season in the new hall, the COC sold to 99 per cent of capacity. Bradshaw's appearances in the pit were routinely greeted with an ovation. He had become a hero of almost Wagnerian stature but, as fate would have it, was robbed of the chance to explore his beloved hall's full potential. Michael Crabb



John Terauds     classical music critic
Despite the accolades Richard Bradshaw collected as the general director of the Canadian Opera Company, his funeral will follow much more modest Church of England tradition.

Bradshaw, who died suddenly last Wednesday at age 63, was also musician-in-residence at Toronto's Anglican Cathedral Church of St. James, where the funeral will be held tomorrow at 11 a.m.

The traditional requiem mass will be led by the dean, the Rev. Douglas Stoute, and sung by the cathedral's choir. According to organist Andrew Ager, the sung portions will include the Mass for Four Voices by Elizabethan composer William Byrd and the traditional Russian Kontakion.

"Richard may have lived in the world of opera, but his heart was very much Elizabethan in these matters," said Stoute.

Bradshaw died after suffering a massive heart attack at Pearson airport, where he was returning from an East Coast vacation. His death has left the opera company in deep shock. There's been no word on who might fill his shoes; no one in the company had been groomed as a potential successor.


Thousands say goodbye to COC's Richard Bradshaw

Updated Tue. Aug. 21 2007 6:20 PM ET

About 2,000 friends, family, former colleagues and admirers gathered in Toronto on Tuesday to pay their final respects to Richard Bradshaw, who many say put Canadian opera on the world map.

Hundreds of mourners sat outside on chairs in the damp cold under grey skies.

Former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson arrives at the funeral on August 21, 2007.

Ontario Lieutenant Governor arrives at Richard Bradshaw's funeral on August 21, 2007.

“In my opinion he was the man who put the ‘Canadian’ back in the Canadian Opera Company,” said Greg Gatenby, the former head of Toronto’s International Festival of Authors.

R. Fraser Elliot Hall shown at the opening of the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto last year. (CP / Aaron Harris)

About 2,000 friends, family, former colleagues and admirers gathered in Toronto on Tuesday to pay their final respects to Richard Bradshaw, who many say put Canadian opera on the world map.

The conductor and general director of the Canadian Opera Company died last Wednesday at the age of 63 from a heart attack.

About 1,300 mourners packed St. James Cathedral downtown for the funeral service, while hundreds sat outside on chairs in the damp cold under grey skies.

Those in attendance included former governor general Adrienne Clarkson, conductor Sir Andrew Davis, composer Derek Holman, Ontario Lt.-Gov. James Bartleman, Toronto arts philanthropist Walter Carson and the Bishop of Toronto, Right Rev. Colin Johnson.

The cathedral choir sang during the mass while the opera company's orchestra members acted as pallbearers.

The service was traditional Anglican, with remembrances and tributes being reserved for a public memorial to be hosted by the Canadian Opera Company.

Bradshaw, an outspoken advocate for culture and the arts, is credited with building Canada's first professional opera house. The Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts opened in Toronto last summer after roughly a decade of planning.

"I think he made opera accessible to people from all walks of life," Bartleman said.

"He has done so much for us in his creation of the opera house and his sustainment of the opera company, he's going to be terribly missed," added Clarkson.

Greg Gatenby, the former head of Toronto's International Festival of Authors, said it was a sad day in the arts community.

"In my opinion he was the man who put the 'Canadian' back in the Canadian Opera Company," Gatenby said.

"For that alone he deserves accolades from all of us, but he did so much more."

Even those who didn't know Bradshaw personally came to pay their respects.

"I just thought with someone so dynamic and who has given so much to the city of Toronto ... I just thought it was nice to be here and give back to him and celebrate his life a little bit," said resident Jane Scott.

Those in the music industry described Bradshaw as intelligent, funny and passionate.

Bradshaw attracted talent to the Canadian Opera Company, including Canadian directors from stage and screen such as Robert Lepage, Atom Egoyan and Francois Girard.

The 1993 double bill of Bartok's "Bluebeard's Castle" and Schoenberg's "Erwartung," directed by Lepage, was the first of a series of collaborations that earned the COC international acclaim and the Toronto production travelled to the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York and the Edinburgh International Festival.

Bradshaw is survived by his wife Diana, daughter Jenny and son James.

With a report from CTV's Paul Bliss and files from The Canadian Press