ABSTRACT

By 1880, Costa was 72 years old, at a time when life expectancy for those who reached the age of 15 was still only 60. His letters frequently complain of fatigue and stomach troubles. His last portrait photographs show a man wearied by 50 years of effort (Figure 8.1). In the last five years of his life, ill-health meant that the previously vigorous and hyper-active Costa became progressively less prominent in England’s musical life. By 1879, he was delegating increasingly to his first violin, Prosper Sainton.1 He conducted his last Handel Festival in 1880 and his last Birmingham Festival in 1882. Early that year, Victoria recorded in her diary ‘Poor Sir Michael Costa is very ill, having had a stroke. He was paralysed and could neither speak or use his left arm, but has partially recovered the use of both.’2 Critics noticed that this illness had a detrimental effect on his conducting.3 Hallé commented that ‘Poor Costa looks awful, but gets through his work in spite of his illness. There is Costa in 1882 https://s3-euw1-ap-pe-df-pch-content-public-p.s3.eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/9781315595146/aedaf7d2-7293-4200-965f-f7e3e053d6bf/content/fig8_1_B.jpg" xmlns:xlink="https://www.w3.org/1999/xlink"/>