Half a century in the Covent Garden pit

Half a century in the Covent Garden pit


norman lebrecht

December 12, 2020

Although very few British musicians work as long in orchestras as their American colleagues, we learn that Richard Peake, viola, has been a member of the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House since 1969, as sub-principal for some 28 years. He continues at the age of 73 to play in the orchestra, completing 50 seasons in July.

The ROH timpanist Alan Taylor served 51 years at Covent Garden.


photo© ROH/Sim Canetty-Clarke, 2014


  • Sam says:

    The Met’s own Marilyn Stroh joined the viola section in 1960 as the first woman member. She is still a member!

  • Thomas Dawkins says:

    Richard Horowitz was timpanist of the MET for 66 years. He also made Leonard Bernstein’s batons.

  • Duncan says:

    Good on him! Now I am waiting for the viola jokes to appear on this blog…!

    • henry williams says:

      i worked till 65 . a lot of young people were waiting for my
      job. i was happy to leave to give others employment

    • Old Man in the Midwest says:

      Well the story goes like this:

      A long time opera viola player, who also dabbled in conducting, was scheduled to play in the pit for the 2 week run of Aida when the conductor became indisposed.

      When no replacement was found, management asked the viola player to step in last minute to lead the 10 performances over the two weeks. The reviews raved about the unknown skills the viola player exhibited including mention in the New York Times.

      After the run was over, the viola player returned to his position at the back of the section.

      His stand partner asked “Where have you been the past two weeks? I hope you are OK!”

    • William Safford says:

      Q: What is the best recording of the Walton Viola Concerto?

      A: Music-Minus-One!

      In all seriousness, I think the last rehearsal I attended before the pandemic lockdown was the Walton. It was my first time playing it. I like the piece, and was especially bummed for the soloist.

  • pianoguy says:

    It must be nice to have someone else bang his drum, for once! Talk about dedication to the ROHCG. Would be interested in his thoughts on the many conductors he has worked under