Richard Hickox, one of the world's leading conductors, has died from a suspected heart attack, age 60.

He died on Sunday, Nov. 23, after a recording session in Wales. He had been due to conduct the new English National Opera production of Ralph Vaughan Williams' "Riders to the Sea," which opens Nov. 27.

Hickox was musical director of Opera Australia and recently had his contract extended to 2012. He was also also guest conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra; founder and music director of the City of London Sinfonia; co-director of the period instrument group Collegium Musicum 90; conductor emeritus of BBC National Orchestra of Wales; and artistic director and then conductor emeritus of the Northern Sinfonia.

Hickox was recognized several times for his work with orchestras around the world. In 2002, he received the CBE in the Queen's Jubilee Honours List in recognition of his achievements in the British music community. He also won five Gramophone Awards and a best opera recording Grammy for his recording of Britten's "Peter Grimes" in 1997.

His agent of over 20 years, Stephen Lumsden of Intermusica, said in a statement: "The shock of Richard Hickox's sudden and unexpected death will resonate right around the globe and has robbed the music world of one of its most popular and respected musicians.

"His championing of British music and his international successes, particularly in Sydney, as well as his legacy of hundreds of recordings across the whole spectrum of repertoire will remain for many years to come."

Hickox is survived by his wife, the mezzo-soprano Pamela Helen Stephen, and his three children.