09:56 14 July 2009
Renowned British conductor Sir Edward Downes, has died aged 85 after travelling to a right-to-die clinic in Switzerland.
Sir Edward and his wife Joan, 75, both decided to end their lives together at the clinic Dignitas in Zurich.
Their family said in a statement that the couple "died peacefully and under circumstances of their own choosing", rather than struggling on with their health problems.
Sir Edward, who conducted the first performance in the Sydney Opera House, spent 40 years of his career with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and 17 years with the Royal Opera.
His family added: "Our father, who was 85 years old, almost blind and increasingly deaf, had a long, vigorous and distinguished career as a conductor".
The legendary conductor has been given many honours including the prestigious Laurence Olivier award, he became a CBE in 1986 and was knighted in 1991.
His wife Joan enjoyed a successful career in dancing, starting out as a ballerina and then going on to be a choreographer and TV producer.
The family added: "They both lived life to the full and considered themselves to be extremely lucky to have lived such rewarding lives, both professionally and personally.
The couple had been together for 54 years.
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