Music and Vision homepage




BILL NEWMAN looks back at
undeservedly neglected musicians



Gwydion Brooke

I had just paid my respects to the young English cellist Alice Neary and pianist Gretel Dowdeswell in the Green Room at London's Wigmore Hall when someone pulled at my coat sleeve. Looking round I was confronted by a jolly-looking gentleman, not unlike a 20th century version of Dickens' Mr Pickwick.

'Excuse me, but would I be correct in assuming you to be here in some kind of professional capacity?' I admitted to being a music critic, preferring to be an ardent supporter of young, deserving performers. He smiled. 'Tell me, how old do you think I look?'. I never venture to guess. His rosy cheeks denoted a lover of the fresh air, perhaps he'd just returned from a visit to the Himalayas? 'I'm 90. And would it surprise you to learn that sometime after 1920 I performed as a member of a woodwind quintet on that platform adjoining this room?' My interest immediately aroused I enquired the names of the other players. Reginald Kell, clarinet -- he went on later to America, Terence MacDonagh, oboe....'

I didn't allow him to progress as visions of great wind principals in London Orchestras in the last half of the preceding century suddenly loomed large and clear.

Gwydion Brooke

And his name? 'Gwydion Brooke' I almost fainted on the spot. It was one of those situations where everyone else faded away into the distance. There was just he and I. I had not seen or heard him since he last played with the Philharmonia, his golden tones matching a facile, natural technique in mastery of music of all ages and kinds. Yes, and something of a legend, despite the serious, unsmiling person backstage. Synonymous with consistency of effort, he viewed his precious instrument as if it were a rare Rolls Royce in perfect condition.

Continue >>

Copyright © 5 April 2002 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK




 << Music & Vision home           Basil Cameron >>