22nd Jan 2021

Osian Ellis, CBE Harpist 1928-2021

​The English Chamber Orchestra have recently been very sad to hear the news about the death of renowned Welsh harpist Osian Ellis.

Ellis was principal harp of the English Chamber Orchestra for many years. Quintin Ballardie, the orchestra’s managing director, explains “We had the tremendous privilege of having in our orchestra the most illustrious of British harpists for many years. He was the reason that Benjamin Britten, long time collaborator of the English Chamber Orchestra for whom he wrote such a catalogue of music, often wrote parts for the harp in such a technically demanding way, as Osian could master them like no other.”

As well as a long-standing relationship with Benjamin Britten, beginning with his performance of the Ceremony of Carols in 1959, Ellis encouraged many contemporary composers to write for the harp, and premiered concerti by British composers including William Mathias, William Alwyn, Alun Hoddinott and Robin Holloway.

Osian Ellis passed away on 5th January 2021 at the age of 92. The ECO and its management offer their heartfelt condolences to his family. He will be greatly missed.

Here is his hugely respected 1962 recording of Maurice Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro, along with a chamber group comprising English Chamber Orchestra players; flautist Richard Adeney, clarinettist Gervase de Peyer, violinists Emanuel Hurwitz and Ivor McMahon, violist Cecil Aronowitz and cellist Terence Weil.

You can read The Red House’s obituary of Osian Ellis here