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Richard Adeney (born 1920) was a British flautist who played principal flute with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the English Chamber Orchestra, was a soloist and a founding member of the Melos Ensemble.


Richard Adeney was born in 1920, the son of the painter Bernard Adeney (1878–1966). He was determined early in life, to "become the best flute player in the world", as he stated in his autobiography He studied at the Royal College of Musicmarker, where one of his contemporaries and close friends was Malcolm Arnold, who composed in 1940 a Grand Fantasia for flute, trumpet and piano for him and a pianist, premiered in February 1941. In his student days in the late 1930s Adeney worked with Vaughan Williams and Sir Malcolm Sargent. He joined the London Philharmonic Orchestra in 1941, initially as second flute, and played with them until 1950 and again from 1961 to 1970, under conductors as Henry Wood and Wilhelm Furtwängler. He was one of the founding members of the Melos Ensemble, principal flautist of the English Chamber Orchestra (ECO) until the 1970s when he was succeeded by William Bennett, and also regularly performed as a soloist. Malcolm Arnold composed a Divertimento for Flute, Oboe and Clarinet for him and other particular friends. Richard Adeney, Sidney Sutcliffe and Stephen Waters gave the work its first performance in 1952. In 1954 Malcolm Arnold wrote a Concerto for Flute and Strings for his friend, who recorded it in 1979, together with the concerto for flute and orchestra (1972). Richard Adeney was closely associated with Benjamin Britten, and performed in many performances and recordings of the composer's works, notably in 1962 with the Melos Ensemble in the premiere and recording of the War Requiem that Britten conducted himself. He participated in the premiere and first recording of Britten's Curlew River in 1964. He recalled: "Curlew River had more rehearsal time than any other new work that I have ever played" In 1967 he participated in a concert in the Royal Albert Hallmarker including Britten's The Burning Fiery Furnace. Richard Adenay performed in notable recordings, such as Johann Sebastian Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, which was recorded under Britten's baton, or in his St. Matthew Passion conducted by David Willcocks. He premiered the Elegy for flute, harp and string orchestra by John Veale in 1951. Richard Adeney performed regularly at the Aldeburgh Festivalmarker. After having played under conductors as Sergiu Celibidache, Bruno Walter, Sir Thomas Beecham and Claudio Abbado, he ended his professional career in 1990.

Teacher, Writer, Photographer, Samaritan

Richard Adeney has also been a teacher. In 1948 he was teaching courses of the first Bath Assembly (later called Bath International Music Festival). He contributed to the biography of Malcolm Arnold and is the author of flute, his autobiography. A sample provided by the publisher refers to working with Koussevitzky on the Symphony No. 4 by Brahms, musing on the state of mind of the player in the performance. Richard Adenay has also been a photographer whose photos appear on record covers and illustrate his autobiography and other memories, also other books. One of his pictures showing Britten and the harpist Ellis appears in the Britten-Pears Foundation pages. For twenty-five years he was a volunteer with The Samaritans.


Selected recordings and broadcasts


  1. Biography Brimstone Press
  2. List of artists
  3. Bernard Adeney Tate Archive
  4. Autobiography
  5. Grand Fantasia
  6. review of flute Ralph Blumenau, quote: pretty well every great musician is there. The book is illustrated with many superb photographs of these artists, many of them taken by Adeney himself.
  7. review of flute Garry Humphreys, September 2009
  8. Melos Ensemble
  9. English Chamber Orchestra news of 21 July 2009, flute
  10. Interview William Bennett Rodney Newton, quote: Geoffrey Gilbert and Richard Adeney were the players I was fascinated by. Richard, because he had colours that nobody else made on the flute.
  11. Malcolm Arnold about this album
  12. Flute Concerto in Malcolm Arnold biography quote: Arnold long held that music was "a social act of communication among people, a gesture of friendship, the strongest there is", and his concertos were nearly always written for specific soloists who also happened to be his personal friends. ... Concerto for Flute and Strings (for Richard Adeney, 1954)
  13. Recording of Malcolm Arnold flute concertos review: Rob Barnett, November 2006, quote: "They were both written for Richard Adeney; one in 1954; the other at his insistence in 1972. By the way Adeney was also the dedicatee of the Flute Sonatina. ... You can hear Adeney in both concertos on EMI Classics 0946 3 70563 2 5 only recently (2006) reissued. ... There’s little between Adeney and Jones though in the Second Concerto I thought Adeney was a shade more soulful.
  14. Interview Malcolm Arnold quote: "but of course Richard Adeney was a wonderful exponent of both my flute concertos"
  15. Curlew River
  16. Memories quote: "Curlew River had more rehearsal time than any other new work that I have ever played….I would walk around (Orford) church to the ruined Norman arches in the courtyard and stand by myself with an empty mind, feeling relaxed and happy. The eerie quality of the music, the singing of plainchant, and the repetitive rehearsals, tranquillized me into an unusually quiet state. - In time off, I took my new Hasselblad camera to the surrounding churches and photographed the amazing monuments ... I wandered around in the sun outside or sat in a pew of a quiet, cool empty church, fitted in with the tranquil music of Curlew River, which still quietly played in my mind."
  17. The Burning Fiery Furnace
  18. St. Matthew Passion in English, sound tracks
  19. Obituary John Veale
  20. Obituary Dame Ruth King
  21. review biography of Malcolm Arnold
  22. Previn, André: Orchestra Interviews by Michael Foss. 223 pages with many photographs by Richard Adeney. Macdonald and Janes, London, 1979
  23. Photo Adeney

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