The sweltering summer of 1976, sprawled solitary in Hyde Park
with iced coke and secret Consulate menthol cigarettes, end of
term in sight, filling a battered diary with minuscule writing;
naive, voluptuous entries sentimentalising about unsentimentalisable
things. It was a time when everything was going my way, my uncle
was giving me regular money, the powers-that-be in the Royal College
of Music were starting to take notice of me, and most days it
looked like tomorrow might not come. A double piano and composition
scholar, I was in a little cosy world quite unaware of the opportunities
that would present themselves in the near future. After an uncertain
start, RCM life had become more enjoyable, I'd spent a year as
a resident of More House along Cromwell Road, made some good friends,
and I had completed the orchestration of my piano-duet work Nine
Pins, reborn as Symphonic Studies, which was taken
on board by the director himself, David Willcocks, and conducted
by him that autumn.
But before that, and to my astonishment, and
also indifference in many ways, I managed to win the 'Grade IV'
prize for piano, awarded for the best examination performance
of a student in attaining the top RCM level of 'V'. John Lill,
my retiring teacher, told me above the pub noise of the Queen’s
Arms (known as ‘the 99’ by RCM students) on the day I won 'You
have one over me, I never won that prize when I was a student'.
Could it really have only been the way I tripped
over my umbrella as I entered the examination room and showered
the three bemused examiners with scores of my compositions? Certainly
John Russell never forgot that moment, 'we thought 'we've got
a right one here''. The Brahms Handel Variations had already
become one of 'my' pieces, and together with Chopin's B minor
scherzo and something else, which I forget, managed to convince
John, 'Eddy' Kendall Taylor and I believe it was Alan Richardson,
that I should win that year's prize. (Despite memory lapse.)
From the moment I entered the room that early-summer day I was
aware of a truly benevolent aura, and felt drawn to it. Not to
mention John’s frequent blowing through the hole in his throat,
a constant reminder of his presence. I remember reading John’s
article about his operation for throat cancer ‘starting from
scratch’, and how ‘scratch’ had been the first word he’d had
to practise saying over and over after the removal of his voice
box. His disability was obviously irksome to him, but he coped
well, and for me, who’d never known his much-loved radio voice,
his burped speech only added to his stature and I clung onto his
every laboured and precious word.
John didn’t seem to understand why I wanted to
study with him after having studied with Lill for two years, and
neither could many others at the college whose tongues wagged
about it. But as I told John, who quoted me often, I didn’t want
to study with anyone who would tell me ‘to put my fourth finger
on C sharp’. Not that John Lill had ever told me to do such a
thing, although I remember the bleak days of my first term at
the RCM in 1974 when John Lill was on tour and his replacement
Neil Immelman told me many times to use certain fingerings; Neil
was charming, sophisticated and kind but I was so bored with the
technical pianism which seemed to obsess him and often left the
lesson holding back homesick tears. Lill wasn’t technical with
me, it was always a matter of demonstration and style, and in
that respect he had a lot of influence on me. The trouble with
pianists was that so few of them appreciated or even knew of much
English music. Most of the music I loved hadn’t been written for
the piano, so pianists’ discussions about other pianists, famous
recordings of the great piano classics and piano repertoire left
me cold. John Russell, though on the RCM professors list as a
‘2nd study’ piano teacher, was more appealing to me
than many of the other distinguished piano professors because
I sensed he would feed that strong desire within me to be close
to the English musical scene of the past, the time I never knew
yet felt nostalgic about, and would understand fully when I said
to him ‘John, I often feel I was born fifty years too late’.
Once it was ascertained that I really was sure
I wanted to study with him, John accepted and thus began a friendship
of fourteen years, until his death in 1990. Well, John was more
than friend, he was like a father. In fact he referred to himself
as my ‘mentor’. Only in name was he my piano teacher. He himself
said in a letter: I don’t teach so much as hold court. People
come in and out or stay – it’s just my style. It was a treat
just to be able to spend an hour drinking milk or scotch, smoking
cigarettes, chatting about everything and anything, but always
learning some new story or anecdote about his great friend Gerald
Finzi, or other assorted immortals from the past world of English
music’s heyday. Every lesson John would allow me to pianistically
wallow, perhaps in my favourite Elgar, busking big chunks of Gerontius,
until I couldn’t remember the next bit, at which point he’d slip
to the keyboard, cigarette hanging from his lips, and with tears
in his eyes busk a similarly big chunk of The Apostles,
exploding with exasperation, whale-like, through his breathing
hole at any mistakes, saying afterwards how it was ‘the greatest
of the three’. Sometimes I’d run through something I’d been learning
(usually English) to which John would give me one or two general
comments and that would be enough; such as of John Ireland’s Amberley
Wild Brooks ‘you play it like one big wank’… Thereafter my
rendition became more paced.
Thus he took me through my final two years at
the RCM, inspiring a new self-confidence in my ability as a pianist
and composer. ‘You HORRID boy, I can’t teach you anything’. He
would introduce me to other colleagues at the RCM as his ‘enfant
terrible’, and they would smile or laugh and marvel at our special
friendship. His first letter to me, a very typical example of
his style, began: My dear Adrian, Your letter has given your
elderly dumb friend more pleasure than he can express. As you
can well understand, it is easy to become possessive of a rare
talent such as yours, and that I have always been determined not
to indulge in. But I need not say that I’ll be around for just
as long as I can be of any use to you as mentor (look it up in
the dictionary) and for ever as a friend. So shut up.
As a ‘Brother Savage’, John soon introduced me
to the fraternity of gentlemen who wiled away many hours without
the possibility of an appearance by the wife. On many occasions
John and I hailed a cab outside the RCM after my lesson (one very
cold evening John truly frightening the cab driver with a coughing
fit resulting in a spectacular display of under-collar steam)
and headed off to The Savage Club, then in Fitzmaurice Place near
Green Park. I recall the first person I met in those revered,
dim rooms, propping up the bar – ‘Humphrey, this is one of my
worst students, Adrian Williams’ – Searle’s 2nd Symphony
had impressed me, although not knocked me out, at Watford Town
Hall years before, whilst elderly concert-goers squirmed. Krips
and the LPO doing Humphrey Searle in Watford – unthinkable now,
almost so in the early 1970s. The composer acknowledged me but
quickly resumed some involved conversation in 12-tone, furrowed-brow
cigarette haze. I attended a few dinner-jacketed Savage Club dinners
too, including one ‘ladies’ night’, all the boys on their best
behaviour. Ladies’ night concert, John in tearful ecstasy at the
piano accompanying Liza Lehmann’s In a Persian Garden with
a cluster of distinguished singers in relaxed mood, including
I think Margaret Cable and Marion Studhulme who I knew well at
the RCM. Then me crashing through Balakirev’s Islamey to
tumultuous applause and another guest Tanya Polunin saying ‘not
bad’. Midget comedian Wee Georgie Wood being carried onto the
little stage for some act. Then back to Reading by car with John’s
It wasn’t long after I came to know John that I was invited to
Ben’s Folly. John had lived in Reading for years and then in a
house large enough for their six children in Burghfield Common,
‘The Hollies’. Before I knew John came Ben’s Folly; Ben, the youngest
of the clan being an architect, designed the entirely wooden house
next door to The Hollies, set well back from the road with large
patch of land to the rear, sloping a little away to the west overlooking
undulating Berkshire fields. Margaret kept John in order with
a healthy diet, eggs from their own chickens, homemade brown bread,
jam, yoghurt. Everything organic and home made as far as possible.
The author with the Russells at Bens Folly,
Even the rich Christmas cake which I somehow
came to ice for them, melting the marshmallows, mixing the paste,
peaking up the snow drifts, adding the little decorations; it
became an annual tradition for me to ice the cake, a good reason
to pay them pre-Christmas visits in later years.
The house creaked all the time, and one could
hear everything everywhere, but the atmosphere was radiant and
restful. John liked to just ‘be’
in his study, enveloped in an aura of tobacco and old paper, musing
over things, maybe scotch in hand, almost certainly cigarette.
If I went in, a score would come off the bookshelf, and an anecdote
woven around it. Like when the piano score of a certain concerto
work was processed over creaking wood through to the western-facing
lounge, and twangy Bechstein grand, and opened at the slow movement.
said John with a silent grunt, expectation in his eyes, and as
I played, tears, as always, hiding just beyond flow.
Tears not so far away for me either; like discovering
new treasure it was as if a cellist were with us in the room,
that F-sharp rising to A, and falling chords anchored by the D
major scale. Finzi’s great late work (Cello Concerto) was hardly
known in the mid-1970s, like so many fine works by him and other
neglected composers. ‘We listened to the premiere on the radio
in 1956, while Gerald was in hospital.’ said John ‘The next day
Gerald was dead’.
This must be as good a moment as any to talk
about John’s close association with Gerald Finzi, which began
shortly after the second world war.
In the early 1980s John and I talked about the
possibility of publishing an article about "Russell and Finzi";
John very much wanted to write something himself, but an incident
shortly after Finzi’s death made him reluctant.
On June 7th 1981 John wrote a little
A horrible thing happened after Gerald died.
The local paper asked me for a piece about Gerald and me, so I
wrote an aide-memoire about the work we'd done together - which
they printed verbatim! Then people wrote and said cruel things
about "JR's conceit"....etc. So that's why the last 25 years have
found me silent, except for such people as your dear self who
have approached me.
From my reaction to this letter it seems that
John had been chewing over the possibility of writing an article
about Gerald Finzi and himself for some time, but hadn’t now the
courage to do so. I was slightly impatient and wrote the following
insolent note to John the same day I think 25 years is too
long to stay in one’s shell. The Finzis have behaved welcomingly
towards you…I wish you’d do the same and move towards them. Then
write that blasted article!! So shut up…..
But on August 24th John wrote: Adrian,
the more I think about the Finzi memoir (him and me, I mean) the
more I'm convinced that it should be by someone else, in the 3rd
person. The 1956 episode was VERY HURTFUL INDEED. The last one
wants is for people to assume that here is an upstart clinging
on to the back of a neglected composer (as he then was), and I
thought that the only thing to do in my misery was to keep on
playing his music ("Fall of the leaf", "New year music", Clarinet
Concerto, etc.), but keeping absolutely clear of personal association.
(The Finzi family made no move to get in touch at the time.)
Why do YOU not do a G.F.-J.R. piece? You,
of the next generation, are nearer to me and Gerald's music than
anyone else I know. You are in the picture, and I could give you
yet more details than we have so far talked about.
I don’t recall having received ‘more details’,
but on September 7th John came up with a short history
of his association with Finzi:
‘Here are a few
pathetic scribbles. Let the article speak via A Williams’
John Russell, the conductor and pianist, heard
Gerald Finzi's music for the 1st time by accident - it was the
cantata Dies Natalis at the 1947 Three Choirs Festival. He had
recently been released from six years of war service with the
R.A.F., and was out of touch with the world of music. These radiant
sounds led to a lifetime of devotion to Finzi's music.
They met (also quite by accident) later that
year, and the following 9 years were a constant adventure. Finzi
was a widely-read, cultivated man, whose activities in addition
to his own composing produced scholarly editions of 18th century
works by Stanley, Boyce, Mudge and others. His sensitive response
to poetry revealed itself in song-settings of words by Traherne,
Wordsworth and Hardy. Russell felt a bright new world opening
out to him, his moderate musical talent growing in range and in
depth. In 1948 Finzi recommended him for the conductorship of
the Newbury Choral Society, a post he was to occupy for 30 years.
In one season he persuaded the committee to agree to an entire
programme of Finzi's music - the Ceremonial Ode "For St.Cecilia",
"Intimations of Immortality", "Dies Natalis" and an unusual work,
the Grand Fantasia and Toccata for piano and orchestra, fierce,
discordant and dramatic. Russell played it and the composer conducted
it. Such was the success of this concert that Russell was emboldened
to repeat it at the Royal Festival Hall, with the LSO, and the
BBC Choral Society, with Richard Lewis and Peter Katin as soloists.
Thus one life was touched by the magic of
the man and his music.
In addition, Russell's growing family were
glad to take the advice of the family of Gerald and Joy Finzi
as to which type of schools they should send theirs to....
The Finzi connection found its way into my own
life, first through Lizbie Browne, that most gorgeous of
gorgeous songs from Earth and Air and Rain, in which I
accompanied Adrian Clarke at an audition for the late Sir Giles
Isham at Lamport Hall. The newness and freshness of that song
and its artlessly natural word-setting was totally burned into
my musical personality that day in 1975; also recalling misty-blue
My first meeting with Joy Finzi was in the late
1970s when I visited her in rural Berkshire with a friend who
was doing his GRSM thesis on Finzi. Then later on I joined the
Finzi Trust. Through this, connections between the Russells and
Finzis were re-established, though in a modest way. At about this
time another friend, violinist and entrepreneur Paul Gray, established
the Southern Pro Arte, the orchestra to which Joy Finzi gave her
blessing as successor to the then disbanded Newbury String Players,
and which had its inaugural concert at the Reading Hexagon in
1981. The late Marcus Dods was their principal conductor.
There was one memorable SPA concert in Newbury
Parish Church on October 3rd 1981 which included the
‘antiquated’ (Gerald Finzi’s
own description) Romance for strings, which is dedicated
to John Russell and which was included in the concert especially
for John. At the request of Joy Finzi Farewell to Arms
was sung by Julian Pike. John was present and wrote to me after
the concert, which had included a little work by me:
Adrian, my dear boy! It was only when I got
home on Saturday that I realised that you had got to where you
wanted, and where you ought to be - for a part of your life at
any rate - in the Finzi-Newbury-Russell ambience, and I had a
little weep. What better "visiting card" than your splendid music
(Do you ever cross ANYTHING out, or do you let it EASE itself
onto paper, as did Schubert, Mendelssohn, Dvořák
and (most of the time) Britten?) Gerald's restless soul must have
been singing with joy somewhere.
In March the following year, 1982, John reported
with delight in a letter that:-
Joy Finzi has made me a vice-president of
the new Finzi Trust, which cheers me after all these years (along
with D.McVeagh, J.C.Case, H.Ferguson et al) – a position made
more visible in August at the Three Choirs Festival in Hereford
at which the Finzi Trust held its first Three Choirs lunch in
a marquee near the cathedral. (Intimations of Immortalitiy
was performed at the Three Choirs that year if I remember correctly)
John and Margaret were both present, and, ever a willing slave,
I was commandeered to slice cheese for the buffet. John a few
days later: Strange Finzi gathering! I seemed to be without
doubt the only Elder Statesman present, except for Diana. [McVeagh]
The Three Choirs that year was an appropriate prelude to my move
from Surrey to the glorious Welsh marches the following month.
Russells, Hereford Three Choirs Festival, 1982
Indeed, continuing on from there, it was a fitting
honour to have the financial support of the Trust towards a recital
at the first Presteigne Festival in 1983 when I accompanied Brian
Rayner Cook in Let Us Garlands Bring.
John had, in his possession, the original manuscript
of Finzi’s Eclogue, in two
piano version, as it was intended to be the slow movement of a
piano concerto. As I pored over this treasure, I felt an almost
unbearable closeness to a time I never knew, a time between the
two world wars when Finzi was working in Gloucestershire, maybe
at Chosen ‘where westward falls the
hill’. Together with this gem were
collected the original of a hitherto undiscovered ‘Lullaby’
(Greek Folk Song) for SATB unaccompanied, and some scribblings
and a letter by Vaughan Williams about the double bass parts of
his Sea Symphony which John had performed with the Newbury
Choral Society one year. Sometime in the 1970s I took the M/S
of the Eclogue on one of the Welsh border holidays, so
I could be near it and near my spiritual home at one time! The
manuscripts are now safe in the British Library.
John told me the story of the Grand Fantasia
and Toccata, mentioned in his note earlier; how he’d
discovered the manuscript of the ‘Grand
Fantasia’ and the slow movement (later
to become the Eclogue), both parts of the unfinished concerto,
in Gerald’s house whilst on a visit.
It turned out that these had been written many
years before and were simply gathering dust. It was Russell’s
suggestion that Finzi wrote a Toccata to go with the Grand
Fantasia, and as the Grand Fantasia and Toccata John
premiered it as soloist in London in 1953. Needless to say we
bashed through it both ways on the two pianos of the westward-facing
lounge at Ben’s Folly, first me as the orchestra on the soft-toned
upright Broadwood, John clattering away his broken octaves, spluttering
at the mistakes. Then, the Eclogue, charming, simple, John
with cigarette between his lips, an emotional silhouette against
the golden light of the south-facing window.
There came a time at the end of my first year
with John Russell (1977), when my pianistic ability was put to
the test. To my utter astonishment I managed to get through to
the final round of the Chappell Gold Medal competition at the
RCM ‘They didn’t
like you best’ grunted John with
a wag of his finger and a twinkle in his eye. I had already booked
my holiday … that went by the board, now I had to get down to
it. There were only three weeks and I had prepared nothing for
a 50 minute recital. But here was my chance to do anything I liked,
so I submitted an entirely English programme which John thought
Rawsthorne’s Bagatelles, Tippett’s
Sonata no.2, Ireland’s Amberley
Wild Brooks and April, Bax’s
Sonata no.4 and Grainger’s
Country Gardens and Shepherd’s
Hey. Of course in the eyes of most pianists it would be considered
madness, but I’ve never been one
for conforming to taste or convention. I loved English music and
felt it was still neglected. It was a tall order to memorise from
scratch this type of programme to recital level in three weeks.
Especially with hostile neighbours; my parents and I lived in
a typical suburban semi-detached house, and a small one at that.
Our twin neighbours were understandably irritated by my hours
of piano practise, especially when the master of the house was
on night-work and slept until mid-afternoon. It would have been
a disaster, but for John and Margaret.
So for three weeks in the early summer of 1977
I lived at Ben’s Folly in the Berkshire
countryside, practising for hours in the daytime gradually committing
my programme to memory, sometimes going down the hill for drinks
with John at the Hatch Gate pub in the village and talking to
Frank behind the bar, sometimes trundling down the same hill on
the dilapidated old bike, sometimes driving their car in monotonous
circles on their driveway just for fun (I didn’t
have a driving licence in those days).
I recall a walk down through villages and past
remains of churches to Aldermaston one luxuriously warm day, catching
a train there and being picked up at Theale by John. A summer
gathering of family and friends, eating Margaret’s
kedgeree (brown rice of course) in the sunset glow with lounge
sliding doors open to the fields, and afterwards making a chorus
of little whistles out of cow parsley stalks, John blowing with
mirth in the midst. John loved visitors, old friends, family.
He often used to say ‘All I did was meet a girl called Margaret,
and suddenly the house was full of people’
A visit for a few days by the violist Bernard
Shore and his wife Olive, then already quite elderly, John and
Bernard performing for us Bernard’s
own arrangement for viola of Elgar’s
Violin Sonata, Bernard, Olive, John and Margaret with me
in a line for a treasured photo. And then Major Dent down in Hillfields,
aged 90, puffing to the piano by the windows overlooking great
lawns, and singing (shakily but not bad for 90) Quilter’s
O mistress mine to John’s or my accompaniment.
Bernard Shore and John Russell performing Shore's
own arrangement for viola of Elgar's Violin Sonata
Suddenly a jolly chuckle and dozens of little
explosions of ‘what?’
when he couldn’t hear something,
finally grunting off into the dark labyrinths of his mansion.
Then in the quietness of a summer’s
night on the balcony at Ben’s Folly,
Margaret with quilt and futon outside their bedroom, and a little
way along the balcony me with mine, both of us sipping Bournvita
under the stars. Then in the early morning the crowing of the
cockerel, Margaret descending the creaking stairs to let out and
feed the chickens, dew like silk on my pillow. Breakfast of muesli,
chopped fruit and yoghurt, maybe a new-laid egg, boiled.
And on a Sunday morning down to St James’s
in Reading for the Latin Mass. John’s
Catholic faith, sparked off by his friend the baritone Owen Brannigan,
was a constant source of solace to him, and I loved to watch and
listen to him stewing the Missa de Angelis plainsong into
romantic mush with his adoring little group of singers up in the
choir loft. Then after Mass an alcoholic introduction to the priest.
We usually arrived home some time after Margaret,
who had been to her Sunday Quaker meeting. Catholic and Quaker
- living more-or-less in acceptance of each other in the same
house, occasional teasing between the two.
leanings suited her well, a skinny, bony, once beautiful lady
bred from a well-to-do family, still beautiful at times, matured
into a keen gardener and green-thinker. We enjoyed endless discourses
about ecological issues, my uncompromising youth tempered by her
life’s wisdom, her conversation calm
and her responses considered.
Somehow the lengthy stretches of piano practise
and memorising, broken by these glorious distractions brought
me to the point of readiness with my recital programme.
John was always close to tears at the swelling
of the big melody at the end of the Bax sonata; following his
reactions enabled me to know how to pace this section. I knew
when I had hit the mark. I always played on the Broadwood, which
I believe had been in Margaret’s
family, so much more mellow than the grand.
The day of truth arrived, Tippett Sonata no.2
98% memorised, telegram from John waiting at College: It’s
only the Chappell! Ordeal over. I was told that David Willcocks,
then Director of the RCM, had slipped into the back of the hall
astonished first to see one of the contestants for the Chappell
Gold Medal trip up the top step of the concert platform and lurch
across into the piano - only to give a hyperventilated crash-through
of English Country Gardens. I got the Hopkinson Silver.
Thank you Louis Kentner, Jimmy Gibb, Eddie Kendall-Taylor. It
was more than I had ever imagined for myself.
Then back to Burghfield, evening glow to the
west over rolling countryside, with the sort of satisfaction and
relief that only third place can give.
You horrid child’ wrote John,
reacting to my spoonerism; I could hear his explosive burps as
I read his letter. Those letters, like little friendly missiles
containing some small thought or anecdote or expression of affection.
His response was a photocopy of a competition from The Spectator
in which entrants had to be Lord Spooner himself, telling off
his slow undergraduates - ‘this
will make you splutter into your cornflakes’.
Indeed it did, what with ‘showing
tightness in your breasts’ but now
‘limply sagging behind’
or threatening to stop the authorities from ‘greying
your pants’…I can still hear John’s
own spluttering, loud blowing, accompanied by red face, watering
eyes, degenerating into prolonged wheezing and use of handkerchief
beneath collar. John was familiar with such old-fashioned English
tomfoolery, having known personally the inimitable Stanley Unwin.
The same letter went on: It reminds me painfully of a real
clanger. Yesterday I got a charming letter of thanks from Peter
Pears in reply to condolences on the death of B.B. – addressed,
of course (in his own handwriting) to "Ben’s Folly".
How clumsy can one get? O dear!
John had an enormous number of friends and admirers.
His welcoming warmth endeared him to all who met him. In my case
it was certainly that plus a healthy distaste for stuffiness which
drew us close as friends.
During the 1980s he was invited to become editor
of the RCM magazine, which publication suddenly became more approachable,
too much so for some. Even I was asked to contribute; an
article about Bernard Stevens’ 60th birthday concert
at the Workers Music Association … Many complained about the magazine’s
tone, saying it had become more like a student rag than the formal
RCM magazine they’d known. Maybe my childish offering hadn’t helped.
In the end John resigned. He fitted only very roughly into the
RCM establishment, but he loved time spent there, loved the company
of other musicians, those he’d spent his life working with.
Here is a lovely piece of observation in a letter
shortly after Bernard Stevens died: I enclose the Times obit.
Of Bernard [1916-1983] I assumed at first that E.R was
E.Roxburgh, but it is so unlike him and his style that I wonder
if it might be E. Rubbra, except that he’s coming up to 82! (Cripes!
Is he still alive?)
On Monday in the S.C.R [Senior Common
Room] there were Ridout, Horowitz, K.Jones and J.Lambert, all
discussing technical matters. I could almost see the wraith of
our dear ‘Elder Brother’ hovering over them.
He was larger than life-size among us, it
is cruel that all that vitality should be gnawed away by the relentless
CRAB. [Bernard Stevens had died of cancer]
I recalled how John had been delighted to be
given the all-clear for cancer some years after his operation.
‘You’re not going to die of cancer’ his doctor had told him. ‘What
will I die of then?’ ‘I haven’t the remotest idea’.
During the 1980s correspondence between us slowed
as I became ever more involved with ‘real life’ in the Welsh borders
and John and Margaret withdrew for longer periods into home life.
We sit quietly in the Folly the Friday about 7.30pm, Ma making
bread and me writing to you.
I managed to get over to ice the Christmas cake
His last letter came about four months before
he died: I’ve been 6 weeks and 4 to follow – treated for a
stroke. L H is useless and right leg is dragging and cannot stand
up if I’m sitting down. Write to me about you when you’ve time
and cheer me up. Love from us both …. PS Was with Edwin Roxburgh
when it happened in London. He got me back to Reading, saw me
into hospital and in fact saved my life! When I told him so he
said ‘John, don’t be daft, I just happened to be in the right
The end came that autumn; Margaret in her own
special way broke the news over the telephone, how John had suffered
another bad turn during the night …‘he didn’t survive’. It was
I who took John’s place in the organ loft, surrounded by the streaming-eyed
souls of his beloved choir. Missa de Angelis from above. Requiem