In Memory: Leopold de Rothschild

Peter Bassano  |  Published: Oct 16th 2012

I was very saddened to learn about the passing of Leopold de Rothschild CBE FRCM (12 May 1927 - 19 April 2012), President of Wendover Choral Society.

Leo was a perfect gentleman who loved music and always had a twinkle in his eye when he heard music well performed, particularly if the performer happened to be a singer.

It was only three years ago when the late Lionel Abel-Smith, Lord of the Manor of Wendover, who had been President of the Wendover Choral Society for many decades decided to step down. The Society was very sorry to see Mr. Abel-Smith go knowing that finding a replacement would be a difficult task.

Recognising the strong local connection in Buckinghamshire with the Rothschild Family, I and Sir Thomas Allen, Patron of the Choir and the Choir committee, agreed on approaching Leopold de Rothschild, the British financier, musician, and philanthropist - renowned for his support of music - to see if he would be willing to become President. We were all delighted that his answer was “yes”.

Mr Rothschild was the youngest child of Lionel Nathan de Rothschild who served as Conservative MP for Aylesbury. From childhood he had a fondness for music and became an accomplished pianist and violinist. He sang with The Bach Choir of London for many years and later served as its President. After two years in the Royal Navy he worked for a number of city banks before becoming  partner of his family's bank N M Rothschild & Sons in 1956.

In the past St George’s Church RAF Halton has been a regular venue for Wendover Choral Society. The church is built on the original parkland of old Halton House. In 1918 Alfred Rothschild, a great party lover, bequeathed the Halton estate to his nephew Lionel Nathan de Rothschild, Leopold’s father. Shortly afterwards Lionel sold the complete estate to the RAF at the knockdown price of £115,000. The new house, with its distinctive Rothschild architecture, was built by Leopold’s great uncle and now serves as the Officers’ Mess and as such has returned to the glittering life so much enjoyed by Alfred.

It is a nice touch that in 2010 the Leopold de Rothschild Charitable Trust provided funds for the Wendover Choral Society to sing at Halton House as part of the entertainment for the RAF Officer’s Summer Ball.

Leopold de Rothschild
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