Charles Farncombe C.B.E. peacefully passed away on 30th June 2006 in St Mary’s hospital Paddington. He studied the French Horn under Aubrey Brain at the Royal Academy of Music in London and became a free-lance player. At Vaughan Williams' suggestion he studied conducting and in 1955 founded the Handel Opera Society and was Musical Director from
1955-85. With the Society he conducted all the oratorios and thirty of the operas of Handel in London and abroad. In 1962 he initiated and became Artistic Director of the Llantilio Crossenny Festival. He was invited to conduct at the Drottningholm Court Theatre in Sweden and was appointed Chief Conductor in 1972, a post he held until 1979. From 1979-95 he was Chief Conductor of the annual Handel Festival in Karlsruhe, Germany. From 1994 he has been Guest Conductor at the Komische Oper, Berlin.
He was Musical Director of the Malcolm Sargent Festival Choir since its inception in 1985 and with them conducted an annual performance of The Messiah, a birthday concert in the Barbican and a summer concert in the Birmingham City Hall.
Charles Farncombe was awarded the Royal Gold Medal of Drottningholm in 1972, the CBE in 1976 and was made a Knight Commander of the Royal Swedish Order of the North Star in 1982. In 1992 he was presented with a gold medal by the Mayor of Karlsruhe. He was a fellow of the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal Swedish Academy and held several honorary doctorates in music in the USA and at home.
He recorded for Decca, Deutsche Grammophon and Erato and for his recording of Castor and Pollux by Rameau was awarded the President's Prize by the Academie du Disque in Paris.