It is with great sadness that I heard yesterday that John had died.
As a little girl of 11 I had relished his Festival Hall children’s concerts…. his charismatic presence at our school music festivals…. his immense energy at the ERMA choral courses… not to mention his wonderful performance of the Ravel Piano concerto for left hand ( his R little finger taking all the strong notes intended for the L thumb )
These were my early, more distant impressions. Later, by several years, I noticed he was living in Devon and plucked up the courage to have a piano lesson. His response was typically warm and supportive…. he laid his great big hand on mine and with a twinkle suggested very mildly that I might like to take my performance diploma.
He was mystified by my lack of key sense…. equally by my complete ignorance of harmony, but he patiently persevered and got me through.
Then another nudge. Why not take my teaching diploma with the Associated Board? Again, such encouragement and support.
How many pupils of his will have experienced not just his breadth of musicianship but also, his unfailing pastoral care and interest and not a little charming vagueness!
His influence in my musical life has been life changing for me. It was at his suggestion in 1996 that I embarked on the first of Beethoven’s last 3 sonatas. Whenever my tension got the better of me he would suggest some subtle alterations that could bring me back to stillness so that the essence of the music could then speak. I am sure there will be so many over the decades who will feel just the same.
His laid back (nearly to the horizontal) manner at pupil concerts and gentlemanly, unflappable humour in concert with his more nervy duet partner Kate, were an absolute joy, and there is this quality of joy in the particular sound he made at the piano. His arrangements for one hand were so good that those of us with 2 good hands would have been hard pushed to reproduce them.
My love and sympathy go to his family… Lucy, Ed and John.
I was privileged to have such a dear friend, mentor and teacher and I will miss him very much.