Basil Cameron (August 18, 1884 – June
26, 1975) was an English conductor. He was born in Reading, Berkshire,
England, the son of a German immigrant family. His birth name was Basil
George Cameron Hindenberg.
He took up the violin at age 8, and later
studied for four years at the Berlin Hochschule. Hindenberg began his
violin career studying with Joseph Joachim and Leopold Auer. He then became a
violinist in the London Symphony Orchestra. In 1912, Hindenberg began
conducting at the seaside resort of Torquay. In 1914, at the start of World War
I, it was considered less than ideal in England to bear such a
Germanic-sounding name as Hindenberg, so the family name was discreetly dropped
and he adopted his third name, Cameron, as his professional surname. (Various
sources have suggested that the name Hindenberg had initially been adopted
because German-sounding conductors could find work more easily than English
ones could. It has also been suggested that the name Cameron was his mother's
maiden name. Both these claims are wrong.) He led festivals of Wagner and of
Richard Strauss with the Torquay orchestra, which brought him to prominence in
the English musical scene.
During World War I, Cameron served in the
British army, from November 1915 to August 1918. He had dropped the name
"Hindenberg" professionally in September 1914 and took a break from
his conducting career. After the war, Cameron led orchestras in many other
British resorts. Laudatory reviews by George Bernard Shaw and Percy Grainger
increased his renown.
In 1930 he guest-conducted with the San
Francisco Symphony Orchestra, and was later invited to become its music
director, where from 1930 and 1932 he served as joint music director with Issay
Dobrowen. In 1932 he moved to the Seattle Symphony.
In 1938, he returned to England where he
remained for the rest of his career. In 1940, he joined the conducting staff of
the The Proms as an associate conductor to Henry Wood. He was appointed a
Commander of the CBE in 1957.
Cameron was married twice, first to Frances
James, and second to Phyllis MacQueen.