15 May 2016

Alan Loveday - violinist

From The Sunday Feature, 2:00 pm on 15 May 2016
NZ born violinist Alan Loveday, aged 4.

New Zealand born violinist Alan Loveday, aged 4 in 1933. Photo: Courtesy of Ian Matheson City Archives, Palmerston North.

Alan Loveday was born in Palmerston North, was an only child and home-schooled by his mother, so that he had time to practice the violin.

His first violin teacher was his father.

He became a child prodigy and made his first radio broadcast at age of four.

After a series of benefit concerts, 1500 pounds was raised to send Alan, aged 10, and his parents to England to study before the Second World War. He became a pupil of Albert Sammons at the Royal College of Music. Fellow student and later esteemed conductor, Sir Neville Marriner told RNZ Concert that Alan Loveday was the best individual violinist the Royal College of Music ever produced.

Straight out of College, Alan Loveday became a soloist, performed at the Proms and played concertos with orchestras around the UK and then the world. He worked with a number of great conductors including Sir Malcom Sargent, Sir John Barbirolli, and the German Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt.

Loveday's best known recording, the Vivaldi Four Seasons with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, is still regarded by some as the benchmark recording of the work. He said the whole recording took less than two days. This lead to Loveday joining the Academy as a permanent member. Sometimes they were called upon as session musicians for studio recordings including with the Beatles. He recalled having to persuade his fellow players to sing for 'Hey Jude':

“I don't know if you know the record, but it in the middle, it goes into a lot of people singing - like a troup of vagabonds, sort of thing! - and I was leading the orchestra, and I had to talk all these people into singing! - most of them just sort of hummed!”


Alan Loveday also played chamber music, including an important collaboration with Leonard Cassini with whom he toured to the USSR and made a good number of recordings. As well, he performed and toured with his pianist wife Ruth Stanfield.

He made two return tours to NZ, in 1953 and 1971, playing chamber music and performing as soloist with the National Orchestra. He later joined the faculty of the Royal College of Music as a teacher of violin, which he enjoyed. He retired from the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields at age 65, but kept playing his violin into his old age. Alan Loveday died in London in April 2016 at the age of 88.

Listen to our 2011 tribute to Alan Loveday, including an extended interview with Charlotte Wilson, and contributions from Alan’s former wife Ruth Stanfield and the conductor Sir Neville Marriner.

Get the RNZ app

for easy access to all your favourite programmes