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The late Bernard Haitink conducting the RCM Symphony Orchestra

Obituary Autumn 2021

In memory

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Remembering and celebrating the lives of former students, staff and others associated with the Royal College of Music.

Bernard Haitink

The Royal College of Music community sends its deepest sympathies to the family of Bernard Haitink, who died on 21 October aged 92.

Bernard Haitink (pictured above conducting the RCM Symphony Orchestra) was one of the most celebrated conductors of our time, and a close friend of the Royal College of Music. He visited the RCM many times, with memorable performances including Strauss’s Alpine Symphony, Mahler’s Symphony no 7, and Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé.

Bernard Haitink was Chief Conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra for 27 years, Principal Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and held Musical Director positions at The Royal Opera, Covent Garden, and Glyndebourne Festival Opera amongst other high-profile conducting roles. He was an honorary member of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, the Berlin Philharmonic and the Vienna Philharmonic, with whom he performed his last concert in September 2019.

Bernard Haitink received many awards and honours in recognition of his services to music. He was Commander of the Order of the Netherlands Lion, Knight of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France, and Honorary Companion of Honour in the UK.

Professor Colin Lawson, Director of the Royal College of Music, said: 'All of us at the Royal College of Music are deeply saddened by the loss of Bernard Haitink, who paid regular visits over a long period and was a true inspiration to generations of students. He achieved astonishing musical results with minimal gesture, emanating a natural authority on the rostrum which defied any kind of explanation in mere words.'

The College’s Artistic Director, Stephen Johns, added: 'Bernard Haitink's visits to the RCM were regularly the highlight of students' careers at the College. His warmth, generous guidance, and exacting yet gentle encouragement, drew from our musicians performances of which they would not have considered themselves previously capable. He transformed their musical lives, the life of the College, and of all those who had the privilege here to know and work with him.'

We send our deepest sympathies to his family. His music will live on through his many recordings and the impact he made upon future generations of conductors and musicians.

The recording made in November 2016 of the RCM Symphony Orchestra and Chorus performing Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé, conducted by Bernard Haitink, can be viewed on our YouTube channel.


Tony Hess

Tony Hess worked in the RCM Library from 2000 to 2016. He died on 26 September 2021 aged 73.

Born and raised in Oregon, Tony Hess studied the violin from an early age and became an accomplished player. According to his family, he was determined to have a career in music, and he became a music librarian in the US, including holding a post at Colby College in Waterville, Maine.

Whilst working there, Tony went on a group holiday to Turkey where he met his future wife Jules, herself on holiday from Britain. Jules and Tony kept in touch after the trip, and a year or so later Tony left the US and came over to the UK, where he married Jules and settled in London. In early 2000, Tony joined the Library team at the RCM, where he worked until his retirement in 2016, doing much work on the RCM Library’s audio-visual collection and contributing many thousands of entries to the online catalogue.

Sadly, not that many years into his retirement Tony became ill, and he died in September 2021. He will long be remembered as a kind and generous colleague, a teller of great tales of his intrepid travels to places far and wide, an avid lunch-hour runner in Hyde Park, and a talented violinist who enjoyed playing in both orchestras and chamber ensembles. Tony’s legacy will live on at the RCM, as his widow Jules has kindly donated his Scarampella violin to the RCM in accordance with Tony’s wishes.

Jill Anderson

RCM alumna, clarinettist, and BBC presenter and newsreader Jill Anderson sadly passed away in October.

Jill Evelyn Anderson was born on 8 December 1951. A bright and talented young woman, Jill excelled at school. Having inherited a love and talent for music, she began her studies at the Royal College of Music in 1970.

Jill joined BBC Radio 3 as a secretary in 1974 and became a Studio Manager in 1978. She spent many years producing and reading the news on the BBC World Service and Radio 3. Her calm and soothing voice made her a natural broadcaster and a reassuring presence for colleagues and listeners alike.

An accomplished pianist and clarinettist, over the years Jill played in and ran several ensembles and orchestras, and later in life completed a Masters in Music at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Her family remember Jill as kind, loving, with a wonderful smile and infectious laugh, and immensely proud of her Jewish Ashkenazi heritage. Jill had a love for Klezmer music, and dedicated many years to researching her family and ensuring that victims of the Holocaust were remembered.

The College is incredibly grateful to Jill for choosing to leave a significant legacy gift in her Will, which will support the next generation of RCM students.

Sylvia Daughtry

Sylvia Daughtry passed away at the age of 94 in March 2021 and generously left a significant legacy to the Royal College of Music.

Sylvia was a lover of classical music throughout her life. She shared this passion with her husband, John, who was a civil engineer in shipbuilding.

John would often move around the country for his work, including to Belfast where he worked on the famous Samson and Goliath cranes. Sylvia held various roles while John was away, including a period working in hospitals, and later as a milkmaid. Her goddaughter Cathy fondly remembers how Sylvia adored Italy, where she and John would spend their holidays. She also had a love for ballroom dancing.

Sadly, Sylvia lost John 40 years ago, but together they had generously decided to leave a gift in their Will to the Royal College of Music to reflect their shared love of music. Thanks to their gift, the John and Sylvia Daughtry Scholarship will be established in their name and will continue to support young musicians for years to come.


Margaret Darwall-Smith

RCM alumna Margaret Darwall-Smith (née Haydon) died on 23 October 2021 aged 90.

Margaret grew up in Somerset and attended Sidcot School. The piano was Margaret’s instrument, and in 1949 she was offered a place at the Royal College of Music.

Margaret greatly enjoyed her time in London, where she heard many famous musicians of the day. She made many friends, and liked her teachers, although she found Sir George Dyson, the then-Director, rather a forbidding character.

In her last year at the RCM, Margaret trained as a teacher, and after graduating in 1952, found a post at Micklefield, a girls’ school in Seaford, a coastal town near Brighton.

Margaret spent the rest of her life at Seaford. There she met her husband Randle, a prep school headmaster, whom she married in 1962. They had a son, Robin.

After her marriage, Margaret became Director of Music at two other Seaford schools, St. Wilfrid’s and Newlands. Margaret was an inspirational teacher, and several of her pupils became professional musicians. She was also deeply involved in local music-making, conducting the Seaford Choral Society for several years, and was in great demand as an accompanist and piano teacher well into her early eighties.

Gerry Webster

Dr Gerald (Gerry) Webster passed away in spring 2021.

Gerry was a developmental biologist and received his PhD from Kings College London. In the 1960s, he was appointed to the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Sussex, where he led a successful human sciences major, which encompassed anthropology, psychology, linguistics and philosophy. He ran this course until his retirement as a lecturer in 2000 and is fondly remembered by former students and colleagues alike.

Another of Gerry’s passions was music. As his close friend Carol Dyhouse explained to the University of Sussex, ‘His love of music was central. Bartók, Stravinsky, Mozart and Handel were lasting favourites, especially Bartók, with whom he had a particular affinity.’ Gerry honoured his love of music by remembering the Royal College of Music in his Will and we are incredibly grateful for his generous gift.

A longer obituary for Gerry can be read on the University of Sussex website.

Following the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, the Royal College of Music remembers two alumni who died in the tragedy.

Graham Berkeley

Violinist and violist Graham Berkeley studied at the Royal College of Music from 1982 to 1986.

Graham was born in Workshop, Nottinghamshire, and later moved with his family to Shropshire. From an early age he showed exceptional musical talent, winning the Shropshire Concerto Competition and becoming leader of the Shropshire Schools Symphony Orchestra, both at the age of 14.

Graham was a keen student and excelled in many subjects – his school friends recall his abilities in maths, science and sports – but he ultimately chose to pursue a career in music.

While at the Royal College of Music, he studied with Frances Mason and was awarded Exhibitioner status. Upon graduating, he went on to perform with the BBC Radio and Concert Orchestras.

After the closure of the BBC Radio Orchestra, Graham relocated to Cologne where he played in orchestras in Cologne and Wuppertal. After the Wuppertal Orchestra closed, Graham took a position with the German arm of US-based company Sterling Software. While in this role he became a gifted programmer, and was transferred to the US. Graham later joined Compuware Corporation and settled in Boston, earning a promotion to Director much sooner than the company had expected.

On 11 September Graham was flying to New York for a conference aboard flight 175, which collided with the south tower of the World Trade Center. He was 37 years old. Graham’s father Charles remembers him as ‘a loving caring son who brought great joy into our lives with his sweet nature and made our lives richer with his love for and gift of music-making.’

A full tribute to Graham can be read on the September 11 UK Families Support Group website.

Katherine Wolf

Katherine Wolf (née James) studied piano at the Royal College of Music from 1980 to 1985.

Katherine James was born in Swansea in 1961. Upon entering the Royal College of Music, she studied piano with John Barstow and Yu Chun Yee, as well as piano accompaniment with Hubert Dawkes.

In 1988, Katherine met her husband Charles while visiting New York with the Philbeach Society, an operatic company based in London for which she was an accompanist. The group organised annual exchanges with New York’s Village Light Opera, and that year the joint production was held at St Joseph’s Church on Sixth Avenue.

Charles, a member of Village Light Opera, vividly recalls seeing Katherine for the first time. ‘I said I have to get to know her, and just like that it was like two lost souls who had found each other,’ he shared in an interview. The pair was married in 1989 in Wales and later settled in New York.

Katherine was 40 years old when she was killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Only two weeks earlier, she had started a new role with financial firm Marsh & McClennan, whose offices were on the 97th floor of the World Trade Center’s North Tower. On the morning of the attack, she had come into work early.

After Katherine’s death, Charles Wolf became a vocal advocate for survivors and families and worked to reform the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. His story is portrayed in the recent Netflix film Worth. ‘We were best of friends, and loved to hang out together and just lived life.’

Further tributes to Katherine and interviews with her husband Charles can be read in Wales Online and on the BBC news website.