Irish harpist, oboist, horn and keyboard player Derek Bell was born in Belfast on 21 October 1935. He studied at London's Royal College of Music (where he received the Manns Prize), and also with Leon Goossens.
Before joining the Irish band 'The Chieftains' in 1972 he played in orchestras in England, Hungary, Ireland, Russia and the USA, and was Professor of Harp at the Academy of Music in Belfast.
M&V's Jennifer Paull has spoken of Bell's generosity, flying at his own expense from China to play in her ensemble, and Kevin Conneff, Martin Fay, Seán Keane, Matt Molloy, Paddy Moloney, Seán Potts and Michael Tubridy (the remaining members of The Chieftains) commented in a joint statement that his passing (in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, aged 66, on 17 October 2002) 'leaves a silence that will never be filled'.
A selection of M&V articles about Derek Bell
The Bell Tolls too soon for Derek - A tribute to Derek Bell (1935-2002) of The Chieftains, by Jennifer Paull