The only son of Glyndebourne founders John Christie and Audrey Mildmay, Sir George Christie succeeded his father to become Chairman of Glyndebourne in 1958 when he was just 23. He held the position until 1999, during which time he and his wife Mary transformed his family business into the world-renowned opera house it is today.
During his tenure as Chairman, Sir George served on many artistic boards, including the Gulbenkian Foundation, Arts Council England, London Philharmonic Orchestra and the London Sinfonietta.
Sir George was knighted in 1984 for services to music, and was subsequently made a Companion of Honour in 2001 as his father was before him. He made way for his son Gus Christie to take up the mantle of becoming Chairman in 2000, and was subsequently appointed President of Glyndebourne.
In 1968 Sir George launched Glyndebourne Touring Opera – fulfilling his desire for greater accessibility to the art form by taking operatic productions around the country – widening Glyndebourne’s audience, accessibility and reputation. In 1986 he established Glyndebourne’s award-winning education department renowned for its work in the community, with schools and youth opera programmes, and launching new works. The pinnacle of his vision and determination was, however, the building of the new opera house. Hitherto Glyndebourne had performed to the highest musical and dramatic standards in a small, intimate theatre; by 1994 Glyndebourne was home to one of the world’s finest, state-of-the-art opera houses.
Sir George is survived by his wife, Lady Mary, sons Hector, Ptolemy and Gus (current Chairman of Glyndebourne), and his daughter Louise.