Musician

Edward Heath was probably the most accomplished musician to occupy 10 Downing Street. He had a lifelong interest in musicwhich was strongly encouraged by his Mother from an early age. First the piano and later the organ, he won an organ scholarship at Balliol College and he considered becoming a professional musician.

He started conducting at the age of fifteen and established the annual Broadstairs Carol Concert which he conducted from his teenage years through to old age. In 1974 he became the first President of the European Community Youth Orchestra.

In 1971 he accepted an invitation from Andre Previn to conduct the London Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Sir Edward Elgar’s Cockaigne Overture at the Royal Festival Hall – becoming the first British Prime Minister ever to conduct a leading professional orchestra. Many more followed and he worked with Abbado, Ormandy, Solti and von Karajan and other leading conductors. Indeed he conducted leading orchestras all over the world including in the US, Russia, Germany, Turkey, Japan, Israel, Hungary, Ireland and China.

Advised by his great friend, Moura Lympany, he first acquired a Steinway piano in 1963 and his last piano has pride of place in the Arundells drawing room. His book ‘Music: A joy for life’ was published in 1976 and revised and republished in 1997.