Alfredo Campoli was born in Rome in 1906, both his parents being professional musicians. In 1911 the family moved to London, where Campoli was taught by his father, and by the time of his Wigmore Hall début in 1923, he was already secure in 11 major concertos. Although he subsequently toured with Melba and Clara Butt, Campoli turned his attention to light music, and during the 1930s became a household name for his many recordings and broadcasts, especially with his Salon Orchestra.
Usually billed only under his surname, he also maintained a concert career, and played Paganini’s Concerto in D (arranged by Kreisler) at a Promenade Concert in 1937. After the Second World War he returned to the “serious” classics, and soon established an international reputation. He made his American début at Carnegie Hall in 1953 and visited Russia twice in 1956, on the second occasion with the LPO. Campoli’s large repertoire, and included the major Classical and Romantic works as well as works by Moeran, Ireland, Bax and Walton; in 1955 he gave the first performance of Bliss’s Violin Concerto, which was written for him. His extraordinary beauty of tone and phrasing, often likened to bel canto singing, was combined with an impeccable technique and an eloquently expressive approach to interpretation.
A larger-than-life figure, keen on tennis and bridge and usually sporting a large cigar, Campoli recorded for Decca for over 40 years. He died in 1991 at his home in Berkshire, England.