<< -- 2 -- Jennifer Paull THE BELL TOLLS TOO SOON FOR DEREK
As a composer, he wrote several pieces for the oboe family, which I am
delighted to publish. As an instigator, he set about commissioning works
for the bass oboe and oboe d'amore from others, which again, I was
happy to bring to life as part of my mission for the oboe family of instruments.
Derek was not a man for the 'new-fangled' ways. Computers and
faxes were from another unfriendly planet. Contacting him was always a problem
as he was often on tour. Pressing the magic fax button was for him, far
more alarming than the intricacies of the concert, pedal harp. So a walk
to the post office queue it was, which I admit is something about which
I have a similar allergy.
I knew he was in the States, and so my last letter telling him about
the publication of his 'Masterwork' as he called it, is lying unopened on
his desk. He missed the news by a matter of days. In fact, when he read
the proofs, he told Jim Gardner, the Liverpool-born, New Zealand composer
who had copied his piece so wonderfully, 'I can die happily now'. What a
tragic letter that is to re-read just three months later.
To illustrate his wicked sense of humour, Derek deliberately gave me
1921 as his date of birth, as I include composers' dates and biographies
in my publications. Stefanie, his widow, told me that he was always doing
that; he even did so in Who's Who. It made him laugh to scatter
misinformation about his age. He was born in 1935!
The list of his achievements is so long, the internet is full of details
of his creative, beacon lights and lasers' beams. On a personal note, I
want to add just how much I appreciate his loyalty, kindness and the years
of encouragement for my uphill task in promoting the rare oboes, all of
which Derek owned and performed. In fact, he must have been one of the only
people on the planet to have and use them all! He even flew to the US to
join me in a concert with my ensemble, The Amoris Consort, leaving
his Chieftains' persona behind him on one tarmac (in China),
and becoming the bass oboist upon another (in Chicago). He used to do the
same thing in the Ulster Orchestra as he skipped between the chairs
of oboe and harp.
Copyright © 24 October 2002
Jennifer Paull, Vouvry, Switzerland