Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

TIMOTHY MOORE - 1922 -2003

Timothy Moore, who died on 1 February 2003, was an exceptionally talented composer, who was Director of Music at Dartington Hall School for many years.

The second son of the philosopher G. E. Moore, he was born in Cambridge in 1922. At the age of eight he was sent to the Dragon School, Oxford, recalling many years later its harsh regime; but his unhappiness there was transformed when he later went to Dartington Hall School in Devon, one of a small number of pioneering, co-educational schools which gave children considerable freedom to develop at their own pace. Here his musical gifts began to blossom. He started to compose, and discovered jazz, which was to become a lifelong interest and had a profound influence on his compositional style.

He won a scholarship to read moral sciences at Trinity College, Cambridge, but being still too young went for a year to Edinburgh University, studying under Donald Tovey. At Cambridge, interrupted by the war during which he was a conscientious objector, he read both philosophy and music, gaining a double First.

This was followed by a year as a composition scholar at the Royal College of Music under Herbert Howells and Edmund Rubbra, where he won a number of prizes. He also worked as a jazz pianist, including a stint in Humphrey Lyttleton's band.

After leaving the RCM he studied privately with Michael Tippett who was then Director of Music at Morley College, and this led to his doing some evening-class teaching there. His compositions began to be published, among them three Two-part Inventions for piano and a Suite in G for recorder trio.

In 1950 Moore returned to Dartington Hall School to become its Director of Music, a. post he was to hold for the next 32 years. Here he became a devoted and inspirational teacher, whether conducting the school choir (for which his numerous arrangements of Negro-spirituals were something of a speciality), leading the jazz band or imparting the intricacies of 16th century counterpoint. His interest in jazz, well ahead of its belated recognition in education generally, rubbed off on generations of his pupils, some of whom went on to become established players themselves.

At Dartington he wrote much music for children, including several musicals in collaboration with David Gribble with whom he also wrote a cantata 'The Scrapyard'. He gave many two-piano recitals with Roy Truby, which included broadcasts on BBC radio.

His renewed friendship with his Russian-born school-friend Diana Miller, who became the director of the first Anglo-Soviet joint company, led to his organising visits to this country by a Composers' Union delegation, with pupils from the Gnessin Music School (among them the young Yevgeny Kissin), which resulted in relations between their Union and our Composers' Guild being re-established after an interval of some thirty years. This in turn led to many performances and broadcasts of his music in the then Soviet Union and widespread recognition in that country.

His style of composition was individual and difficult to pigeon-hole, owing something to Hindemith, the English madrigalists and Bach as well as to jazz. Although he loved the freedom and elasticity which jazz offered he was also a meticulous composer with a deep interest in counterpoint. Examples of ingenious devices abound in his works although they are always made to seem entirely natural. His compositions cover a wide range - choral, vocal, orchestral and instrumental, some of the latter including some unusual combinations such as vibraphone, oboe, horn and piano.

He was a much-loved if eccentric personality, retiring, unworldly and hopelessly at sea in many practical matters. A confirmed bachelor nothing could shake him from his normal routine, to the frequent exasperation of his friends; 'I can't possibly see you at 5.30, I'm having my bath' an oft- quoted remark. His bushy beard reminded one of Brahms or a Russian Orthodox priest and his style of dress could at times be startling. His work-room was littered with papers, and he carried economy to extremes by covering every inch of paper with minute hieroglyphics. In his recent letter-writing he adopted a system of simplified spelling, to the amusement (or annoyance!) of his recipients. He was something of a gourmet, with a love of good wine and cigars, and he could be very good company, kind and generous and blessed with a child-like innocence and sense of fun.

He continued to compose, and to perform as jazz pianist, right to the end of his life, and in February last year a concert of his music to celebrate his eightieth birthday was given in Cambridge. Although he won some success as a composer; with a number of publications and broadcasts, the fact remains that he was probably better known in Russia than in Britain, and in his latter years he worked hard to try to achieve wider recognition in this country, something which he never quite succeeded in but richly deserved.

© Nicholas Marshall - 2003

Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.