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Sir Thomas Beecham - Founder of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Heir to the vast Beecham family pharmaceutical fortune, Thomas Beecham went to Rossall School and Wadham College, Oxford. He studied composition in London with Charles Wood and, in Paris, with Muszkowski. In 1909 he founded the Beecham Symphony Orchestra and, later, in 1915, founded the Beecham Opera Company.

In 1946 he founded the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and, although the personnel changed quite a bit during the first few months, the Orchestra soon settled down. In 1950 he took the Orchestra on a triumphant tour of the USA. Although he occasionally conducted other orchestras abroad, most of the remainder of his life was spent conducting the RPO. By 1960 his health was beginning to deteriorate and he died on March 8, 1961. He was knighted in 1916, became a baronet later that year and was made a Companion of Honour in 1957.