Remembering and celebrating the lives of former students, staff and others associated with the Royal College of Music.
Renowned classical guitarist Julian Bream CBE, who studied at the Royal College of Music from 1948, has died aged 87.
Hailing from a musical family, Julian Bream was a child prodigy and at age 12 won a junior exhibition award for his piano playing. At 15 he joined the Royal College of Music as a piano and composition student.
Julian had a distinguished and internationally renowned performing career as a guitarist, working with some of the 20th century’s most important musicians and composers. He won four Grammy Awards and his catalogues of recordings for RCA and EMI Classics sit alongside his many BBC radio and TV appearances. In the 1960s he formed the Julian Bream Consort, performing as the group’s lutenist.
RCM Director, Professor Colin Lawson, comments: ‘Julian will be greatly missed across the musical world. Amongst a multitude of achievements, he expanded the range of guitar works by commissioning dozens of new compositions. How proud we are to have him amongst our alumni. He will remain an inspirational figure to our current and future students.’
During his career, Julian did much to place the classical guitar at the forefront of the professional classical music world, commissioning and performing the works of composers including Lennox and Michael Berkeley, Malcolm Arnold, Benjamin Britten, Michael Tippett, William Walton and Peter Maxwell Davies. Benjamin Britten's Nocturnal is arguably one of the most famous pieces in the classical guitar repertoire and was written with Julian specifically in mind.
In 2008, he set up the Julian Bream Trust to provide financial assistance for the less well-off, young and gifted music students and to continue the important work of commissioning new compositions for the guitar.
He passed away on 14 August 2020 and a full obituary can be read on the Guardian website.
Oliver Davies FRCM, distinguished pianist, musicologist and curator, made an immense contribution to the RCM and to performance and musical scholarship in the wider world.
Oliver’s passion for research and the mounting of concerts began in childhood: at the RCM he studied with Kendall Taylor, winning the Tagore Gold Medal in 1961, and later privately with Ilona Kabos and Esther Fisher.
Recognising Oliver’s exceptional qualities, vision and knowledge, Sir Keith Falkner appointed him Parry Room Librarian at the RCM in 1961, responsible for reopening the Reference Library and the return of the manuscripts that had been sent by Sir George Dyson to the British Museum in 1946.
When the Library post was made full-time in 1971 Oliver relinquished it so he could continue to perform. He proposed the foundation of the RCM Department of Portraits and Performance History (DPPH) and was appointed Keeper of Portraits, Archivist and as a piano professor forthwith. In 1993 he also became Lecturer in Performance History, teaching an elective he had designed for the BMus course.
His phenomenal memory, wide-ranging research and dedication to rescuing and preserving musical heritage were matched by his ability to find significant material at low cost and to inspire potential donors, funders and voluntary cataloguers. This resulted in major development of the Reference Library and then the DPPH, and their recognition (alongside the RCM Museum of Instruments, which had opened in 1970), as international resources. Today the DPPH’s iconographical holdings are in the Museum while the archival section is in the Library: much is accessible online.
On retirement from the RCM in 2003, after a meeting at the Royal Society of Musicians chaired by the late John Cruft, he founded the Museum of Music History, and as its Honorary Curator developed substantial collections and website displays. He was delighted to acquire a fine portrait of Sir George Grove and one of his last acts was to arrange that it should be the website’s Image of the Month for Grove’s bicentenary.
Oliver also regenerated the collections at the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal Society of Musicians through his honorary posts at both institutions.
A brilliant pianist, he pursued a parallel career as a sought-after soloist, chamber music player, accompanist and mentor, covering a wide range of repertoire and partnering many distinguished musicians. Extensive research went into his renowned concerts in historic houses and museums: his concert in conjunction with the Sargent Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery was an outstanding example of these performance history projects, for which audience members would travel long distances.
Inspirational as teacher, lecturer and writer, Oliver radiated an infectious joy in music and its interpretation and enriched the lives of countless friends and colleagues. He died on 2 July, aged 81. Many tributes have been received and a memorial concert will take place at a later date.
An obituary can be read on the Slipped Disk website.
Jane Parker Smith
A celebrated organist, Jane Parker Smith lent virtuosic skill and plenty of glamour to the classical music world. Her solo recitals captivated audiences across the world for many years, on TV and radio and in esteemed venues.
Following grammar school in Hampshire, Jane began her studies in piano, cello and harpsichord at the RCM in 1967. She switched to organ early on, a move that would not have surprised anyone who had seen her deputise for the organist at her local church as a teenager. Her talent for the organ flourished at the Royal College of Music, and she began to accumulate awards including the Walford Davies Award for organ performance, which gave Jane the chance to perform her debut London recital at no less a venue than Westminster Cathedral.
Nicholas Kynaston, the Westminster Cathedral organist, became a life-long mentor. She studied with him from 1971 as a postgraduate, a time that also led her to Paris to learn with Jean Langlais. It was here that she began to explore French romantic repertoire, which would become a staple of an impressive and lauded solo performance career. Following her debut at the Royal Festival Hall in 1975, she became known for beautiful interpretations of music by French and Belgian composers such as Charles-Marie Widor, César Franck, Alexandre Guilmant and Joseph Jongen. She performed on organs from the Sejong Centre in Seoul to the ZK Matthews Great Hall in Pretoria.
Throughout her career Jane recorded popular, crowd-pleasing works to great success. Her Favourite Organ Masterpieces album, released in 1973, covered Bach to Widor and reached a large audience. Later, she would make a record of rare concertos by CPE Bach, Johann Georg Albrechtsberger, and Joseph and Michael Haydn. But she was also known for spotlighting lesser-known works, especially on the three volumes of Romantic and Virtuoso Works for Organ on the Avie Label from 2008-09.
Jane was a regular feature at music festivals including the Athens Organ Festival and the Three Choirs Festival in the UK. She worked with orchestras led by Sir Simon Rattle, Matthias Bamert and Richard Hickox, and she is credited with popularising Marco Enrico Bossi’s Organ Concerto. For many who knew her and those who saw her perform, Jane was an intensely charismatic and glamorous performer who nevertheless had an easy, grounded relationship with her fans.
She married John Gadney in 1996. John died in 2012, and Jane is survived by her stepchildren from the marriage, Alice, Oliver and Max, as well as her sister Susan.
An obituary of Jane can be read on the Guardian website.
From Bach to Bond, Allen Handy specialised in piccolo G trumpet playing on many iconic film and television scores, jingles and signature tunes.
After completing his National Service as a musician with the Royal Army Medical Corps and winning the Kneller Hall Music Prize, Allen gained scholarships to study composition at Oxford with Oscar-winning composer Sir Malcom Arnold and also to the Royal College of Music to study the trumpet with Richard Walton, piano with Millicent Silver and composition with Peter Racine Fricker.
Allen’s career as a trumpet player left little time for composing but early on, playing for Sadler’s Wells Opera Company, he wrote a full score for a ballet called The Necklace choreographed by his wife, dancer Susan Handy.
A freelance musician and very much in demand for many years, Allen played guest Principal Trumpet for many of the leading London orchestras, including the London Philharmonic, the London Symphony, the Royal Philharmonic and the Philharmonia amongst others. He also played regularly with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, Academy of St Martin in the Fields and the Royal Northern Sinfonia. He was Principal Trumpet of the London Mozart Players and Philomusica of London.
Touring the world with these great orchestras and conductors, Allen performed extensively with the London Philharmonic Orchestra for over 25 years, playing at many prestigious occasions such as their 40th anniversary invitation to China. The orchestra was among the first to enter the country when it first opened up to the West in 1973. Allen was also invited to play for Pope John Paul ll at The Vatican under conductor Leonard Bernstein.
His work crossed over the boundaries of classical and jazz, playing with Duke Ellington, Jack Benny, John Dankworth and Cleo Laine along with many seasons at the Aldeburgh Festival, Daytona Beach International Music Festival, Hong Kong Festival, Glyndebourne and the BBC Proms.
Allen was part of the sound of many renowned classical recordings under great conductors such as Sir John Barbirolli, Daniel Barenboim, Klaus Tennstedt, Bernard Haitink and too many others to list here.
He was a prolific session musician and played on several iconic movie scores including the original Star Wars soundtrack, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Mission and several James Bond films. He recorded many award-winning television and film scores for composers Jim Parker and George Fenton including Dangerous Liaisons, The Jewel in the Crown, The Monocled Mutineer and on several original television jingles and signature tunes such as Tomorrow’s World, LWT and Channel 4 News to name but a few.
Allen very much enjoyed spending time at Lord’s as a member of the Marylebone Cricket Club. He was a Governor of The Royal Society of Musicians, a Fellow of The Royal Geographical Society and a member of The Garrick Club. He was a keen chess player and a lover of fine wine. He was immaculately dressed right to the end of his days, when he was loved and cared for by the wonderful staff at Denville Hall where he was living with dementia.
He is survived by his son Edward, a city broker, and daughter, actress Emma Handy.
His great sense of humour and beautifully told stories will live on in many memories. Allen often spoke of sitting in the middle of the orchestra playing a Bruckner or Mahler symphony. He said: ‘there is quite simply nothing else like it’.
David Bowerman CBE HonRCM was a farmer for 40 years before becoming a prolific supporter of classical music, opening a free concert venue on his land in 1999.
David graduated in science from Reading University before joining the family farm at Court Wick Park in 1957. He worked there until he moved to Champs Hill in 1986, but it wasn’t until the late 90s and his retirement that he turned his full focus to supporting classical music.
The 160-capacity venue was built on land devastated by the storm of 1987 on David and his wife Mary’s estate at Champs Hill. Named the Music Room, the venue never charged entrance fees, instead asking for voluntary donations to help with upkeep.
David's interest was deep-rooted, however, and it extended beyond his Music Room concert hall. He had played the organ at the local church for many years, and in 1984 he had founded the Bowerman Charitable Trust to support young artists, including at the Royal College of Music to this day. David founded the Arundel Festival, spearheaded concerts at Boxgrove Priory Church near Chichester, and was named CBE in 2004 for services to West Sussex.
He spent seven years as a council member for the Royal College of Organists, five as a board member of the Royal Philharmonic Society and 12 on the board of the English Chamber Orchestra. The year after his CBE, HRH Prince Charles awarded him HonRCM. In 2010, Champs Hill Records was set up, with the Music Room used as a recording studio.
Cellist Julian Lloyd Webber said of David: ‘He was a fantastic supporter of young musicians at the start of their careers and his generosity will live forever through the many recordings he sponsored on his own Champs Hill label.’
David died on 25 June at home. He is survived by Mary, his daughters Janet, Kate and Ann, and seven grandchildren.
Ruth Isaacs (née Lewis) joined the Royal College of Music as a pianist in 1930 at only six years old and spent 15 years studying and performing at the College, graduating in 1945.
Ruth was the youngest of four daughters born in Paddington in 1924. Her father, Albert, was a self-taught pianist and tobacconist by trade. He learned the piano entirely by ear and was able to play many genres, ranging from classical and music hall through to Yiddish folk melodies. This gift was passed on to Ruth, who, while in the reception class at the local Lancashire County Council primary school at the age of five, was talent-spotted by the RCM. Ruth was selected for the Junior Exhibitioner Scholarship Programme, set up in 1930 to open up access to musical education for primary school children. From the age of six, she began serious and rigorous piano instruction every Saturday and after school in the evenings.
The RCM became her second home. She continued her piano education from 1930 throughout the London Blitz during World War II. She graduated with LRCM and GRSM degrees in 1945. After the RCM, Ruth attended the music conservatoire in Lausanne in Switzerland.
Ruth never failed to be grateful to the RCM and to her dedicated teachers, especially to Miss Gaskell. They were able to provide the expertise and dedication required to extend her innate talent. Her attendance at the RCM spanned 15 years during the most impressionable and formative period of her life. Her love of music – especially for Beethoven, Schubert and Chopin – lasted throughout a long and happy life.
In 1947 Ruth married Dr Heskell Isaacs, a newly arrived doctor from Iraq, and they lived in Manchester and then Cambridge. She stayed in Cambridge even after Dr Isaacs had passed away, coming back to London only in 2011 to be near her children. While in Cambridge she was an active member of the East Anglian and Cambridge chapter of the RCM alumni community.
Throughout her life Ruth taught and gave concerts, piano recitals and many talks on different aspects of music. Many were for charitable causes. Her life was active, healthy, independent and fulfilled by making contributions to others through her ability to bring joy through her piano playing.
In her last five years of life her health failed. Throughout this time, she maintained her love of family, friends and the wider community. She died peacefully at home six days before her 95th birthday.
Ruth was part of the last intake of Junior Exhibitioners at the RCM. She never forgot her time at the College, which was the formative influence throughout the rest of her life.
Francis Carnwath CBE HonRCM was a dedicated supporter of the arts and expanding arts access for the public. He occupied a key directorship role at the Tate Gallery, spearheading the acquisition of the power station on the Thames that would become the Tate Modern.
A banker with Barings for 27 years, Francis’s contribution to the arts came after his retirement from banking in the late 1980s. He was Deputy Director of the Tate Gallery from 1990 to 1994 and supported the expansion to Liverpool and Cornwall as well as the buying of the new home for Tate Modern.
His passion for preserving London’s architecture for the arts and the public led him to helm the Greenwich Foundation for the Royal Naval College, established in reaction to plans to sell off Greenwich Palace. Under Francis’s leadership, the palace underwent a massive renovation and welcomed both Greenwich University and Trinity College of Music, which was particularly significant for the great music lover.
Francis played similarly key roles at English Heritage, where he was in charge of London’s Blue Plaques. His philanthropic interests were wide ranging: he was Deputy Chairman of the charity Shelter, chairman of Spitalfields Historic Buildings Trust and on the board of the Charles Darwin Trust and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. He was awarded HonRCM by HRH Prince Charles for his services to the arts and was appointed CBE in 1997.
A full obituary can be read on The Telegraph website.
Dr June Keyte MBE ARAM was born in South Wales and trained in London as a music teacher at Trent Park College of Education (later Middlesex University).
Her distinguished 50-year career in music and music education included many different roles, from Director of Music in comprehensive and independent schools, to editing the music publication of the Society of Assistant Teachers in Preparatory Schools and conducting the BBC Schools Radio Music Broadcasts for 27 years with her comprehensive school choir the Kingsmead Singers.
In 1994 she founded Children's International Voices of Enfield, for which she won much national and international acclaim. Most recently she travelled to Johannesburg to be one of the international judges at the Ekurhuleni Melting Pot National Choral Festival.
June’s key role in music education was widely recognised. In 1990 she was awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Fellowship for Trainers of Children’s Choirs to study choir training in Finland, and later that same year a Bye-Fellowship at Selwyn College, Cambridge. In 1992 she was awarded an ARAM from the Royal Academy of Music (having studied violin there as a postgraduate with Frederick Grinke) in recognition of her 'distinguished services in music education'. In 2005 she was awarded an MBE by HM The Queen for her services to Music and the community and was also awarded an honorary doctorate (together with her husband Christopher) from Anglia Ruskin University.
One of June’s passions was commissioning new music and many composers were persuaded to write for her. The list is long and includes Betty Roe MBE, Douglas Coombes MBE, John Rutter CBE and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies CH CBE.
Her legacy lives on in the many performers, teachers and lovers of music found internationally whom she taught during their musical training, and her inspiration and kindness are continually remembered by those musicians and countless friends. June will be greatly missed.
Baritone Adrian Clarke, who studied at the Royal College of Music from 1972 to 1976, has died.
Adrian John Clarke was born in Northampton and studied singing with Frederick Sharp and Edgar Evans alongside piano with Alan Rowlands and Harry Platts at the Royal College of Music.
He made his debut with the Royal Opera in 1994, playing Sid in Puccini’s La fanciulla del West and subsequently sung a number of roles with the company. He went on to sing with a wide range of companies including Bregenz Festival, Royal Danish Opera, Teatro Lirico di Cagliari, La Fenice, Dutch National Opera, Glyndebourne, Scottish Opera and Welsh National Opera. Also known for his interpretations of contemporary works, he created the roles of the Librarian in Nicholas Maw’s Sophie’s Choice, Augustus Carmichael in Peter Maxwell Davies' The Lighthouse and the Maharal in Eugen d’Albert’s Golem.
Adrian Clarke died on 10 September, aged 66. A full obituary is available on the Opera Wire website.
Geoffrey Dellar’s name has been added to the award established in his late wife’s honour in 2007. The Hilary Fabian and Geoffrey Dellar Award will continue to support RCM students.
Geoffrey Dellar was born on 1 February 1926, the eldest of three children, to Frederick and Winifred Dellar, in Catford, Surrey. A pupil of Whitgift School, he enlisted in the Royal Air Force in 1943 and was posted to Accra in West Africa where he served in the meteorological service.
His first marriage to Joan Nicholls in 1947 produced two sons and two daughters and saw him move to Rhodesia in 1960 with the family. He returned to the UK in 1978 having spent the previous 13 years as Librarian of Parliament.
As Librarian of Tower Hamlets in London until his retirement, Geoffrey lost his first wife in 1983. In 1984 he married Hilary Fabian, a fellow librarian, with whom he was to share his love of classical music, books and travel. When Hilary passed away unexpectedly in 2007, it seemed only natural to celebrate their commitment to music by setting up an award in her name at the RCM. In the following years he took great pride in his involvement with the College, the award and its recipients.
Moving to Bexhill in East Sussex, he spent his final years surrounded by his family, books and music until July 2020 when he passed away at the age of 94.
It seemed fitting to add his name to the award in recognition of his generous support and as a legacy for both him and Hilary.
RCM keyboard professor for more than 40 years, David Ward passed away on 18 April.
David William Bassett Ward studied piano with Antony Hopkins and Cyril Smith, viola with John Yewe Dyer, theory with Derek Stevens and Herbert Howells, and singing as an extra study with Hervey Alan, Mark Raphael and Ranken Bushby at the Royal College of Music from 1962 to 1967. He subsequently became a member of the Keyboard Faculty in 1969 and was made a Fellow of the RCM (FRCM) in 1972.
A fortepiano specialist, he was well known for his love for and expertise on Mozart. Director Colin Lawson fondly remembers him: ‘All of us at the RCM were deeply saddened by David’s passing. He was a wonderful servant of the College, shared my intense love of Mozart and was altogether a great musician.’
David was a founding member of the Kingston Third Age Orchestra. Personal tributes from family and friends can be read on their website.
Nathalie McCance (Mrs. John Gainsborough)
Nathalie studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music, and later worked there as PA to Dr Henry Havergal, the Principal, for many years. She joined the RCM as a member of staff in the Parry Room, at that time the College’s reference library. She later moved to work with Oliver Davies in the RCM Department of Portraits and Performance History as Keeper of Portraits and Ephemera. She died on 4 June.