Maguire, Hugh (1926–2013), violinist, orchestral leader, chamber musician and teacher, was born Andrew Hugh Michael Maguire on 2 August 1926 in Dublin, one of four boys and two girls, to Elias 'Bunty' Maguire, principal of the Inchicore Model School, and his wife Rose (née Gillell). From an early age the Maguire children were immersed in music – their father was a well-known tenor who won the gold medal at the Feis Ceol in 1904 (the year after John McCormack (qv), and beating James Joyce (qv) who took the bronze) – and all six went on to become professional string musicians. Hugh was introduced to the violin by his father at the age of six and then attended the Municipal School of Music (now part of the Dublin Institute of Technology) where he was taught by Michael McNamara, who later became principal of the school. From the outset Maguire demonstrated a talent for the violin – he was awarded every prize for instrument at the Feis Ceoil by the age of twelve – and when the Municipal School initiated a scholarship in 1938 Maguire was the first recipient of the junior scholarship (under twelve). His family home at 42 Prussia Street has been described as 'a social centre' where people gathered to talk and play music, and throughout the autumn of 1941 Patrick Kavanagh (qv) was a regular visitor while dating Maguire's older sister Treasa (Patrick Kavanagh, a biography, 189–90).
Maguire was educated at Belvedere College, Dublin, and in 1944 was awarded a four-year scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music in London. Whilst there his prodigious talent continued to win him numerous awards, including the Alfred Waley prize and Alfred Gibson prize for violin, and the Cooper prize and McEwan prize for quartet playing. He also led the first orchestra for two years under conductor Clarence Raybould, and made his Wigmore Hall debut in 1947.
Having completed his training at the Academy, Maguire travelled to Paris for ten months to study with the renowned composer and violinist George Enescu, whose other pupils included some of the greatest musicians of the twentieth century such as Yehudi Menuhin, Ida Haendel and Christian Ferras. In a later interview Maguire described Enescu's teaching methods as highly unorthodox: 'It was really rather like being taught by a conductor. I played the music and he sort of swung me around, pushed me that way, guided me. It was a total musical experience … I was just swept along' (Ir. Times, 6 July 2013).
Following on from his time in Paris, Maguire joined the first violin section of the London Philharmonic Orchestra in January 1949, where he worked under several conductors, including Victor de Sabata whom he considered 'the greatest of all conductors ever' (Ir. Times, 6 July 2013). In 1952 Maguire was appointed leader of the Bournemouth Municipal Orchestra (later the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra) and four years later, in 1956, took over as leader of the London Symphony Orchestra. He took the helm in London at a time when the orchestra was undergoing a serious upheaval – all the principal players had resigned the previous year over changes to their work practices – and Maguire (along with Neville Marriner, Stuart Knussen, Gervase de Peyer and Barry Tuckwell) was brought in to replace the old guard. Under his leadership, described as 'profoundly effective' (Times (London), 25 June 2013), the fortunes of the Orchestra were restored and by the time he left to take over leadership of the BBC Symphony Orchestra in 1962 it included many of the leading musicians of the age.
Maguire remained with the BBC until 1968 when he left to concentrate on his first love, chamber music. During the next decade he played with several quartets, including the Allegri String Quartet, the Cremona String Quartet and the re-formed Melos Ensemble; he also briefly formed a piano trio with cellist Jacqueline du Pré and pianist Fou Ts'ong, and played in the session orchestra on the Beatles song 'Hey Jude'. In 1983 he returned to orchestral music, leading the orchestra at the Royal Opera House in Convent Garden until 1991.
In addition to performing, Maguire's interest increasingly turned to teaching. He was professor of violin at the Royal Academy of Music, London, from 1959 until 1985, and in 1978 he was invited by Peter Pears to take over as director of string-studies at the Britten-Pears School for Advanced Musical Studies in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, a position he held until 2002. His willingness to advance the training and careers of young musicians also led him to co-found Ógra Ceoil, later the Irish Youth Orchestra (and now the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland) with Olive Smith (qv) in 1970, and he conducted the orchestra until 1990. As well as teaching at the Britten-Spears School, he also taught at the Pro Corda music school in Leiston Abbey, Suffolk. The focus of Pro Corda was musical education through the medium of chamber music and ensemble training, and in 1994 Maguire and his second wife Patricia established a similar course in Ireland – Con Corda.
Maguire's contribution to playing and teaching orchestral and chamber music in Britain and Ireland was recognised by both countries as immense. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music, London, in 1959, and his tenure was among the longest of all living fellows. He was offered the position of leader of the Radio Éireann Symphony Orchestra in the same year, and he almost accepted it, but commitments in England prevented it. He did, however, serve on the Arts Council of Ireland from 1975 and 1981. In recognition of his contribution to Irish music and culture, the National Youth Symphony Orchestra of Ireland established the Hugh Maguire Chair and he was honorary president of the Irish Association of Youth Orchestras from its inception in 1994.
Maguire married twice – first to the dancer Suzie Lewis from 1952 to 1987, with whom he had five children, and then to the musician Patricia (Tricia) Catchpole from 1988 until her death in February 2013. Maguire died on 14 June 2013 at his home in Peasenhall, Suffolk, and his funeral took place at Chilterns Crematorium, Amersham. His obituary was carried in all major newspapers on both sides of the Irish Sea and he was widely lauded for his talent as both musician and teacher. Although he could be abrupt with conductors, famously making the conductor Josef Krips cry, he was better known for his humour and charm. A former student of the Britten-Pears school, Jacqueline Shave, described how his 'beaming face and naughtiness and love of all things good in music were utterly infectious' and inspired the young musicians that he taught (Times (London), 25 June 2013). Maguire was more modest about his abilities. In an interview describing the attributes of a good musical leader he said: 'It's all about leading by example, not saying “do this or that”. Good players want to find illumination' (Potter, 64–5).