Isidore Godfrey

~ Person


Isidore Godfrey (27 September 1900 – 12 September 1977), born Israel Gotfryd, was musical director of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company for 39 years, from 1929 to 1968. He conducted most of the company's performances during that period, except for a few London seasons when Malcolm Sargent was guest conductor and brief periods in the summers of 1947 and 1948 when Boyd Neel filled in as guest conductor.

Godfrey led the company in numerous tours, both domestic and foreign, during his tenure, and he conducted most of the company's recordings over that long period. Widely admired and well-liked, Godfrey trained at the Guildhall School of Music in piano while working as an accompanist in London. He joined the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company as chorus master and assistant musical director of one of its touring companies in 1925, and in 1929 took over as musical director on the retirement of Harry Norris. Thereafter, his entire career was with D'Oyly Carte. He conducted and recorded all eleven of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas, plus Cox and Box, that were performed by the company. From the 1930s, he conducted several broadcasts of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas by the BBC, relayed live from the Savoy Theatre.

In June 1965 Godfrey was awarded the OBE, and in 1966, he conducted a film version of The Mikado, one of only a few films ever made by the company. He retired from the D'Oyly Carte company in 1968. He was married three times, for the longest period to Ann Drummond-Grant, a company principal who died in 1959.

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