Guy Warrack

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Guy Warrack (6 February 1900, Edinburgh – 12 February 1986, Englefield Green) was the first principal conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, holding that title from 1935–1946.

Early life, education and early career

Guy Warrack was the son of Mr John Warrack, LL.D, Rothesay Terrace, Edinburgh, where he was born in 1900. He was educated at Cargilfield School, Edinburgh, Winchester College and Magdalen College, Oxford, where he studied music under Sir Hugh Allen and Dr Ernest Walker. While at Oxford he acted as organist at St Columba's Presbyterian Church, and during vacations he frequently deputised in St George's United Free and other Edinburgh churches.

On leaving Oxford in 1922, Warrack toured in Germany and conducted at Cologne, Frankfort and other towns. From 1922 until 1925 he studied at the Royal College of Music, London, under Vaughan Williams and Hoist, winning the Foli Prize for composition, and the Tagore Medal awarded to the most distinguished student of the year. During this period he frequently conducted at college concerts and operatic performances, as well as at public concerts in London and the provinces.

In 1925 Warrack joined the staff of the Royal College of Music and as well as teaching he was appointed examiner to the Associated Board of the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal College of Music. In 1920–1921 he conducted two series of chamber concerts in London, and during 1927–1928 he conducted the Royal Tunbridge Wells Symphony Orchestra, and he conducted the Oxford University Orchestra and the Oxford city concerts for children. He was also assistant conductor to Dr Adrian Boult in the Court Theatre season of light opera.

In December 1929, Warrack appeared with the Scottish Orchestra in his native Edinburgh and conducted his own "Variations for Orchestra". After that, he frequently appeared at London concerts with the London Symphony and other orchestras, and also continued his work as composer, with a number of his compositions being broadcast.[1]

Appointment to BBC

In October 1935 it was announced that Warrack had been appointed to the staff of Ian Whyte, music director of the BBC's Scottish Region, and that he would conduct the new Scottish Regional Orchestra when it was formed.

In August 1945, after ten years as conductor of the BBC Scottish Orchestra and around 2,000 broadcast concerts, it was announced that Warrack was leaving the BBC to take up outside work. He was replaced by his boss Ian Whyte.[2]


  1. 'The BBC Scottish Orchestra: Mr Guy Warrack to be conductor', Glasgow Herald, 12 October 1935.
  2. 'Music department of the BBC', Glasgow Herald, 7 August 1945, 4.