Born of Australian parents in the USA, Sir Charles studied in Sydney and Prague. He was Conductor Laureate of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Conductor Emeritus of the Welsh National Opera, Principal Guest Conductor Emeritus of the San Francisco Opera, Principal Guest Conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra and from 1997-2003, Principal Guest Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, following his life-long association with both the orchestra and many aspects of Czech musical life. He has undertaken much research into performance practice of the 18th and 19th centuries and has conducted his own performing editions of the works of Handel, Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms with the world’s leading orchestras and opera houses.
Sir Charles received a CBE in 1974 and was knighted in 1979. He was honoured with the Medal of Merit from the Czech Republic in 1996, made a Companion of the Order of Australia in 1997 and made a Companion of Honour in the 2003 Queen’s Birthday Honours. In May 2005 he was presented with the Royal Philharmonic Society Gold Medal and in November 2005 was the first recipient of the Queen’s Medal for Music.