The grand old man of the British percussion department, James Blades,
has died at the age of 97. For decades the breadth of his knowledge about
sundry members of the percussion family, and his magnetic power of explanation,
whether to musicians or the public, were as unrivalled as his ability in
performance. Composers - including Benjamin Britten - were grateful for
his advice, however obscure the instrument.
He had a very ordinary upbringing, yet it led to a subject which absorbed
him completely. His name and ability will live so long as music requires
the dash and sparkle of percussion.