Anthony Halstead began his career as a horn player who held first-chair posts in some of the more prominent English orchestras. A sort of offshoot career soon emerged in period-instrument performance when he developed a sensational technique on hand horns of the Baroque and Classical eras. In the mid-'70s Halstead took up conducting and in that role etched out a major career in his association with the Hanover Band, Australian Chamber Orchestra, and Netherlands Radio Chamber Orchestra. As conductor or director (he has often directed orchestras from the keyboard in concert and on recordings) he has led many acclaimed concerts throughout the world and made more than 50 recordings for a variety of labels, including CPO, Musica Sveciae, Naxos, EMI, and Nimbus.
Halstead was born on June 18, 1945, in Manchester, England. He studied music at Chetham's School in Manchester, and later at the Royal Manchester School of Music. His chosen instrument initially was the piano, though he also studied horn and organ, as well as composition. He eventually turned his focus to the horn, but without abandoning his keyboard activities -- he later studied the harpsichord with George Malcolm. He also took lessons in conducting with Charles Mackerras.
In 1976 Halstead debuted as conductor leading the premiere of a modern work, Elisabeth Lutyens' One and the Same. Soon he began regularly conducting several important period ensembles, most particularly the Hanover Band. In the latter 20th and early years of the 21st centuries, Halstead, while remaining active as a horn player, steadily developed his career as one of the foremost English conductors of period-instrument music.
In 1995 Halstead launched a most ambitious project with the Hanover Band, the complete orchestral works of J.C. Bach, which would include the harpsichord and fortepiano concertos, with Halstead directing from the keyboard. He finished this 22-CD set for CPO in the early 2000s, with the last release issued in 2006.