Remembering and celebrating the lives of former students, staff and others associated with the Royal College of Music.
Lady Valerie Solti HonRCM
A former BBC television presenter and devoted patron of the arts, Lady Valerie Solti passed away on 31 March 2021.
Lady Solti (pictured above) was a dedicated supporter of the RCM, particularly during the bicentenary appeal, and as a regular attendee at many RCM concerts and events. Her significant contribution to the College’s musical life was formally recognised when she was awarded honorary membership of the RCM in 1986.
Born in Leeds in 1937, Valerie Pitts trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. She went on to work in television, presenting on Tyne Tees Television’s regional programme North East Roundabout from 1959, and beginning her career at the BBC in 1960. As presenter of BBC arts programme Town and Around, she interviewed internationally renowned conductor Sir Georg Solti in 1964. She recalled this whirlwind encounter in a 2012 Guardian interview, remembering, ‘I was bewitched – captivated – by this man, and logic and pragmatism just flew out of the window. It was a coup de foudre.’ The pair married in 1967.
Sir Georg Solti was music director of Chicago Symphony Orchestra for 22 years, and the family split their time between London, Chicago and Tuscany. After her husband’s sudden death in 1997, Lady Solti continued his legacy and devoted her life to many charitable initiatives, creating the Solti Foundation (1997), the Solti International Conducting Competition (2002) and Georg Solti Accademia (2004).
Through the support and opportunities that she provided, Lady Solti enabled countless talented artists to flourish and embark upon successful careers. She will be greatly missed.
A full obituary for Lady Solti can be found in The Times.
Simon Bainbridge FRCM
Composer Simon Bainbridge, an RCM alumnus and former professor, passed away on 2 April 2021 after a long period of ill health. He was 68.
A pioneering composer, Simon Bainbridge wrote over 60 orchestral, instrumental, choral and vocal works. He studied composition at the Royal College of Music under John Lambert from 1969 to 1972. Simon found early success while still a student, earning critical acclaim for his Spirogyra at the 1971 Aldeburgh Festival and subsequently earning a commission from André Previn for the 1972 South Bank Summer Music Festival.
Simon spent two years at Tanglewood, Massachusetts, where he studied with Gunther Schuller, founder of the Third Stream genre which fused jazz and classical. Jazz was one of Simon’s many sources of inspiration, with Debussy, Ligeti, and Philip Glass among his other influences – but he also embraced a wide range of musical genres. His close friend Stephen Montague fondly remembers, 'We had a common interest in Country Music and agreed that nothing could quite grab you like Dolly Parton singing Jolene.'
Further successes followed, with Simon’s music featured six times at the BBC Proms between 1998 and 2012, and his Scherzi featured on the Last Night in 2005. His powerful work Ad Ora Incerta – inspired by Primo Levi’s chronicles of the Holocaust – won a Grawemeyer Award in 1997. In 2016, he won the British Composer Award for Inspiration.
Simon was a highly regarded teacher, holding the post of Head of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music from 1999 until 2007. He also returned to the Royal College of Music, teaching for ten years between 1989 and 1999, and received a professorship from the University of London in 2001. Simon also lectured at the Juilliard School, the Boston Conservatory of Music, Yale University and the New England Conservatory of Music.
Jane Manning OBE FRCM
British Soprano and RCM Visiting Professor Dr Jane Manning OBE has been described as the 'voice of contemporary classical music in this country.'
From her debut professional concert in 1964 – a programme of Webern, Dallapiccola and Messiaen – Jane Manning championed contemporary music. With perfect pitch and incredible musicianship, she became a sought-after soloist, and over the course of her career gave 350 premiere performances of new works around the world. She frequently gave repeat performances of many pieces, most notably Schoenberg’s Pierrot lunaire, which she performed more than 100 times.
Jane worked closely with composers such as Birtwistle, Boulez, Cage, Carter, Knussen, Ligeti and Maxwell Davies. Many new works were created for her, including Weir’s King Harald’s Saga (1979), Richard Rodney Bennett's Spells (1978), and Matthew King's The Snow Queen (1992). She received Honorary Doctorates from the universities of York (1988), Keele (2004) and Durham (2007); was made OBE in 1990; and was awarded a Gold Badge for her advocacy of British composers by the Ivors Academy in 2013.
Born in Norwich in 1938, Jane Manning graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in 1958 and went on to study at Scuola di Canto at Cureglia, Switzerland. She became a fellow of the RCM in 1998 and was a Visiting Professor from 1995 until 2014. Jane passed away on 31 March 2021 at the age of 82.
A full obituary for Jane Manning can be read in The Guardian.
Anna Shuttleworth HonRCM
Former RCM professor of cello Anna Shuttleworth – affectionately called 'the Swellest Cellist' by Vaughan Williams – has died at the age of 93.
Born in Bournemouth in 1927, Anna Shuttleworth entered the Royal College of Music as a scholar in 1943 and studied under Ivor James and Harvey Phillips. While at the RCM, she became a founding member of the all-female Vivien Hind String Quartet and, after graduating, was invited to perform with the Newbury String Players. It was through her performances at the Newbury Festival that she became close with composer Gerald Finzi and his musical circle, including Ralph and Ursula Vaughan Williams.
In 1954, Anna was awarded a scholarship which allowed her to continue her studies with Enrico Mainardi in Salzburg and Rome, and Pablo Casals in Zermatt and Prades. She enjoyed a successful performing career in the 1960s and 1970s, playing for many BBC broadcasts and with renowned pianists and ensembles around the UK.
Anna returned to the RCM in 1964 as professor and was a sought-after member of the faculty until her retirement in 1996. Her former pupils include Natalie Clein, Adrian Brendel, Alexander Baillie, Elizabeth Wilson and Jonathan del Mar. She remained a supporter of the College, establishing a cello prize in her name, and in 2008 was awarded Honorary Membership of the RCM by HRH The Prince of Wales. Anna passed away on 2 March 2021.
A full obituary for Anna can be found in The Telegraph.
Former RCM Professor of Recorder Ross Winters passed away in February 2021 at the age of 69. A distinguished recitalist and teacher, Ross inspired a new generation of recorder players.
Ross Winters was a beloved professor of Recorder at the Royal College of Music for 15 years from 1978 to 1993, and Head of Recorder at Birmingham Conservatoire until 2012. A devoted teacher, he taught a wide range of age groups and abilities, from six-year-olds to adults. He coached on all the National Youth Recorder Orchestra summer courses from 2002 until 2011, and acted as an examiner for Trinity College and ABRSM. He also acted as a Musical Advisor to the Society of Recorder Players.
Ross studied recorder with Walter Bergmann, Frans Brüggen and Walter van Hauwe at Amsterdam Conservatorium; he shared his memories of Walter Bergmann in a 2016 interview recorded for the College. He performed extensively as a recitalist of early and contemporary repertoire, including at Wigmore Hall and London South Bank. He recorded for BBC Radio 3 and released two albums of English 20th-century recorder music.
In 2005, Ross moved to Folkestone, Kent, where he was an active member of the local community, directing Folkestone Baroque Choir and Folkestone Adult Recorder Group, and performing with his instrumental ensemble, Folkestone Baroque.
Sir John Margetson KCMG HonRCM
Sir John Margetson, an accomplished diplomat, later served as Chair of the Joint Committee of the Royal College of Music and Royal Academy of Music.
Born in Edinburgh in 1927, Sir John Margetson was educated at St John’s College, Cambridge, where he was a choral scholar under Herbert Howells. He joined the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) in 1959, where he became close friends with David Cornwell, better known as John le Carré.
In 1964, Sir John joined the Foreign Office, where he became a speech writer to then-Foreign Secretary, George Brown. In the 1970s and 1980s, he served as ambassador to Vietnam, the United Nations, and the Netherlands. In 1979, he was appointed CMG, and was knighted KCMG in 1986.
After his retirement in 1988, he devoted himself to music, acting as Chairman of the Yehudi Menuhin School and the Royal School of Church Music. He also chaired the Joint Committee of the Royal College of Music and Royal Academy of Music, and notably secured the reversal of the Gowrie Report’s recommendation to amalgamate the RCM and RAM into a single conservatoire. He continued his charitable work until suffering a brain haemorrhage in 1994.
Sir John died on 17 October 2020 at the age of 93. A longer obituary can be read in The Guards Magazine.
Pianist and composer Elaine Hugh-Jones was celebrated for her important contribution to English song. She passed away on 29 March, 2021, and generously left a gift to the RCM in her Will for a postgraduate vocal scholarship in her name.
Elaine Hugh-Jones’ work was praised by the late Jane Manning as ‘exceptionally sensitive’ and having a ‘wonderful assurance’. A lover of poetry, Elaine composed several song cycles and was known for her settings of 20th-century British poets, including Wilfred Owen and Walter de la Mare.
Born in London in 1927, after her parents’ separation Elaine grew up at her grandparents’ house near Carlisle. Her family were talented musicians and singers, and she fondly remembered how she played their accompaniments from a young age. She achieved early success in Carlisle, and travelled to London to study with Harold Craxton, Julius Isserlis and Lennox Berkeley.
After completing her studies, Elaine began work as an official accompanist for BBC radio and television in Manchester, alongside a position as director of music at Derby high school. She later taught at Kidderminster High School, Malvern Girls’ College and Malvern College, and continued her work for the BBC in Birmingham.
In retirement, she dedicated her time to composing but also to writing, publishing a children’s story, Bella and the Witch of Shadowland, in 2011. In recent years her work has gained many champions and has been performed in recital by Elizabeth Watts, Fiona Kimm, James Gilchrist and Roderick Williams, among others.
A full obituary for Elaine can be read in The Guardian.
A dedicated and accomplished organist and choir director, John Taylor studied at the Royal College of Music from 1964.
John was still in post at the Collegiate Church of St Michael and All Angels, Tettenhall when he passed away in March 2020 after 35 years of devoted service. As with his earlier church appointments, he was held in high esteem by choristers and students of all ages and within the wider community. Tettenhall College, the renowned independent school, also benefited from John’s teaching.
A true Man of Kent, John was born in Charing and attended Kent College, Canterbury, where his musical talents were nurtured and won him several prizes, including for organ. From there he entered the Royal College of Music in 1964, studying organ with Harold Darke and gaining a variety of diplomas, including the FRCO (CHM) and BMus degree. The last two of his four years at the RCM were distinguished by holding the Organ Scholarship at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. Contemporaries recall him as sociable, amenable, supportive and easy-going, but also totally devoted to his studies.
John’s first appointment of significance was as Assistant Organist at St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh, combined with Assistant Director of Music at St Mary’s School, a happy and fulfilling five years until 1977. A brief sojourn at Loughborough Parish Church was followed by a similar posting to Christ Church, Southgate, from 1979 until the final move to Tettenhall in 1984. John’s time as Director of Music at Southgate continues to be remembered with much affection for the high standards and commitment he inspired at all levels of music-making.
Dr John Donnelly
Dr John Dominic Paul Donnelly, known as Dominic, a faithful RCM Friend since 2005 and generously included a significant gift to the College in his Will, as well as supporting both the Concert Hall project and More Music Campaign.
Dominic was Official Fellow and Lecturer in Applied Mathematics at Exeter College, Oxford for 34 years. He first arrived at Exeter College as a student in 1958, having already received a BSc from the University of Western Australia, and went on to obtain the highest mark in Mathematics in his final exams in 1962. He then left Oxford to work in industry but returned as Lecturer in Numerical Analysis. After obtaining his DPhil, Dominic was elected to a Fellowship at Exeter in 1970 and retired in 2004.
Patricia (Pat) Basu (née Budd) entered the Royal College of Music in 1966 to study piano and organ.
While at the RCM, she studied under several distinguished professors including Adrian Cruft, Hubert Dawkes and Cornelius Fisher. She went on to be a much-loved music teacher in the Epsom area, remembered most fondly by her students. To her frustration, osteoporosis in her hand made playing the piano challenging in recent years. Patricia suddenly passed away earlier this year, and generously left the proceeds of sale of her beloved piano to the College, for which we are most grateful.
Christine and Sheila Ann Partridge
Christine Partridge was a longstanding RCM Friend from 2001 until 2017 and was heavily involved in the arts throughout her life.
Christine lived with her sister, Sheila Ann Partridge. After inheriting Christine’s estate, Sheila wished to support the charities that had been dear to her sister in her own Will, and so included a generous gift to the RCM. The College has recognised their generous bequest to the building development by naming a new practice pod in their honour.
Annabel Buchan MBE
A dedicated philanthropist, Annabel Buchan was a founding Trustee of the Anita Goulden Trust, which works with disadvantaged children in Peru. The College is very grateful to have been remembered with a gift from her estate.
Annabel first became involved in the Anita Goulden Trust in 1991 as Administrator and a Trustee. She was passionately dedicated to the cause and successfully led the Trust through financial challenges and was immensely proud to have been awarded an MBE in the 2004 New Year’s Honours List for her work. Annabel was known as the ‘Cool Aunt’ to her 11 nieces and nephews and 25 great nieces and nephews. She passed away peacefully at home shortly before Christmas 2020 and will be greatly missed by her family.