Wimbledon International Music Festival 2021

Meet the Director

Anthony Wilkinson
I had the great fortune to be brought up with live classical music as a natural element in the house, with no connotations of elitism: just the joy of beautifully coherent sounds that nourished the spirit.
Anthony Wilkinson Festival Director

Music ultimately became a central part of both my private and professional life. My natural expression as a child was to play the oboe, and after studying with the renowned Janet Craxton I was offered a scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music, but, curiously on their advice, decided to go to university instead, with the intention of playing a lot of music, and ultimately following a musical career.

At University I met a Rhodes Scholar, already a major prize-winning world-class virtuoso violinist, with whom I formed a performing partnership. Whereas he, Jack Glatzer, developed a career as an international soloist, I was beguiled by the new media and found my way to the Music and Arts department of BBC TV a few months after the start of BBC2.

Those were heady days under the inspired leadership of Huw Wheldon and Humphrey Burton. As director on the magazine programme 'Music International' I travelled internationally making films with many of the most celebrated musicians of the time: in Bayreuth with Wieland Wagner, in Prague with Artur Rubinstein, in Paris with Nadia Boulanger, the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, Benjamin Britten in Aldeburgh and Snape. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau enlightened me on the art of Schubert songs, and I was able to pay tribute with a major Omnibus profile to my hero, oboist Leon Goossens.

As one of the few drama directors working on film in the sixties I was in a position to set up the first international drama coproduction with American, Canadian and German partners, with the film 'The Siegfried Idyll' about Richard and Cosima Wagner. Other dramatized musical films included 'Music of Exile' about Bohuslav Martinu, and 'Papillons' about Robert and Clara Schumann.

These films led to offers from Hollywood (frequently illusory it must be said) and eventually a 7 year Californian stint, making movies of the week, and directing some of the 'In the Heat of the Night' series, as well as writing a number of screenplays resulting in excruciating periods of what is known as 'Development Hell'.

Music kept me more or less sane, and I always insisted on having specially composed scores for my productions, and working with major composers and the best of artists. The most recent of these commissioned scores was by the brilliant young composer-conductor Ben Wallfisch, for a theatre production at the Teatro San Gallo in Venice, still playing and reputedly the longest running live show in Italian Theatre history.

But why the Festival? A long story! Music is a passion for me, and one I am passionate about sharing. I am delighted to be able to create, in the community in which I have lived for more than forty years, a festival sharing the experience of hearing and meeting world class artists in the company of friendly festival audiences.