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Roger Best HonRCM 1936 - 2013

Monday 21 October 2013


We are sorry to report that Roger Best died on 8 October aged 77 after a long illness.  He was a professor at the RCM from the mid-seventies to the mid-nineties, in addition to being principal viola in the Northern Sinfonia and a member of the Alberni Quartet.

Roger Best won a scholarship to the Royal Manchester College of Music (now the Royal Northern College of Music) to study viola with Paul Cropper.  Upon graduation he was invited by Sir John Barbirolli to join the Hallé, and he played with the orchestra for two years before being appointed principal viola for the Northern Sinfonia in 1961. During this period he began to perform more as a soloist and the Northern Sinfonia commissioned two concertos for him – from Sir Richard Rodney Bennett and Sir Malcolm Arnold, both of which were well received. A recording of the Arnold concerto was made in 1971, with the composer conducting. In 1977 he joined the Alberni Quartet and went on to record the Brahms string sextets with the ensemble. Over the course of his life he made numerous recordings, including Britten’s Lachrymae for viola and string orchestra and Vaughan Williams’s Flos Campi.

His daughter has written: ‘His calm, gentlemanly and laid back attitude concealed a stubborn and relentless perfectionism and an awareness of the potential and possibilities that could be realised with hard graft.’