28 October 1931
6 December 2005
From Pauline Thorburn
(née Carter): , pupil of Adrian’s
at St. Gregorys (1960 – 1967)
Adrian came into my
life, as "Brother Smith" when
he joined the teaching staff of St.
Gregory's Grammar School, in September
1963, and I went into the Fourth Form.
He was both my form teacher, English
teacher and later to be my history teacher.
He was an inspiration and made me want
He promoted a life-long
appreciation of music. For my holidays
in July 1964 I had saved up five pounds,
which in those days was a fortune. When
we stopped in Conway, North Wales, before
reaching our final destination, I came
across a shop that was selling a new
"cheap" label – "Music
for Pleasure". I bought two records,
at ten shillings each -
Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and
Grieg’s Peer Gynt. I thought
I was at the cutting edge of musical
appreciation and that Adrian would be
impressed by my new-found prowess in
critical understanding of music.
Regretfully, I can't
recall how impressed Adrian was but,
even so, these records laid the shaky
foundations of what has become an extensive
and eclectic collection of
recordings which ranges from early music
to present day. My musical appreciation
did improve over the years, and I remember
a very exciting performance of Prokofiev's
Fifth Symphony that led me to
buy a decent recording.
Later, I attended a
concert where I heard the Slaithwaite
Phil’s rendition of this work. Afterwards,
I plucked up the courage to give Adrian
my opinion - that it was quite the worst
interpretation I had ever heard, and
was to my mind unrecognisable. Needless
to say, he thought I was extremely impertinent
 For those unfamiliar
with the old Sterling currency, that
adds up to one pound (Paul Serotsky)
Thus it seems that, when Adrian started
working as a critic for the Huddersfield
Examiner, he was already familiar
with unflinching critical candour! (Paul
Jean Gooden, SPO oboe/cor anglais player
I played oboe/cor anglais
in the Slaithwaite Philharmonic Orchestra
for about 35 years. Adrian introduced
the orchestra to many works that I did
not know at all. Some of these were
very difficult, but under Adrian’s guidance
they grew on me at each rehearsal and
I really enjoyed the challenges that
he set us*. The orchestra gained
awards for these innovative programmes.
He was also ambitious in his choice
of soloists and we had some truly exciting
of music was very wide and I admired
him also for his abilities in history
and English. He was a great character
and will be very much missed.
Whilst I won't argue with her judgement,
I think that Jean is being too modest.
She often struggled with the short but
very difficult cor anglais solos that
composers are wont to pop into their
works, but the SPO's performance of
Suk's mighty Asrael Symphony was her
finest hour. Sadly, I missed it, but
I am told that, at the end, before even
acknowledging the applause himself,
Adrian beckoned Jean to her feet . .
. [Paul Serotsky]
Woodhead, SPO Secretary and Violinist
Adrian Smith made a
lasting contribution to the musical
life of Kirklees, and had an immense
impact on the Slaithwaite Philharmonic
Orchestra, where he will be remembered
as without question the most influential
figure in its 114-year history. On joining
the SPO as conductor in 1969 the orchestra
was in poor health with a mere handful
of members and not the slightest possibility
of mounting a serious concert. 32 years
later he strode proudly onto the platform
of a packed Huddersfield Town Hall,
to direct a fully-fledged, award-winning
symphony orchestra in an emotional farewell
concert of orchestral works chosen from
the many highlights of his distinguished
brimming with boundless energy, he inspired
the orchestra to pursue his bold policy
of championing the unknown, the adventurous
and the rarely performed parts of the
orchestral repertoire. Not afraid to
take risks, when others counselled caution
he challenged the accepted boundaries
of programme planning for the "amateur"
orchestra. He drove the SPO to achieve
great success with performances of symphonies
which, until then, many had thought
to be the sole preserve of professionals.
Latterly he became
known as a forthright music critic with
the Huddersfield Daily Examiner.
He was not always popular and often
controversial, but his informed, incisive,
consistent and rigorous reports of concerts
throughout the Huddersfield area gained
him the respect of many musicians. I
have played in numerous concerts where
the word has been spread around that . . . "we
had better perform well tonight – Adrian
Smith is reporting!
From Jenny Carter,
pupil of Adrian's at St. Gregory’s*
(1971 - 8), SPO
violinist (1971 - 85, then occasionally
until mid-1990s) -
Adrian played a part
in my life for as long as I can remember.
Even when I was very small I had already
heard of him, because he was my older
sister's form tutor and teacher. By
the time I was eleven I was in both
the choir and orchestra of All Saints’
School *, as well as the Slaithwaite
Phil., miming on the back desk of the
second violins! - and he conducted all
three of them. In later years, he became
my piano teacher, unpaid because he
refused any payment for the lessons.
He continued to be
a great friend, always ready for a good
argument, and keeping me up to date
with the goings-on in the musical world
of Huddersfield though his e-mails and
so on. I owe it entirely to Adrian that
my social life still revolves around
music, although I'm confident that he
wouldn't have liked our rock band!
For me, Adrian’s witticisms
were a constant source of amusement.
There is one in particular that still
makes me laugh every time I clean -
or more accurately, think about cleaning
- the TV screen:
One Saturday morning I arrived for my
piano lesson to find Adrian busy cleaning
up because his mother was coming to
stay. He asked us to help him look for
places he'd missed. We happily obliged,
and soon discovered a thick layer of
dust covering the TV screen. He wiped
it off and commented, "Ah, that's better
- now we'll be able to see Bruce Forsythe
in his true colours!"
St. Gregory’s became All Saints’ High
School in 1973 (Paul
From Graham Moon – SPO Timpanist
It was a chance remark
to Stuart Marsden, in October 1981,
which led to my becoming the timpanist
in Slawit* Phil. Under Adrian's
conductorship I have played in many
marvellous performances of repertoire
which many amateur orchestras could
only dream of performing in public.
I especially remember the concert which
included Shostakovich’s Eighth Symphony,
just 10 years ago, and concerts in the
Centenary Season (1991-2), which included
Shostakovich’s Seventh, Rachmaninov's
Second Piano Concerto (with Peter
Donohoe), John Adams's The Chairman
Dances, Lutoslawski's Paganini
Variations and Elgar's The Music
I will always treasure Adrian's enthusiasm
for all the music we performed.
It is absolutely true that he challenged
the players and developed the SPO so
that we played taxing programmes which
were also musically rewarding.
Adrian's promotion - among
others - of Elgar, Rachmaninov,
Shostakovich, and Arnold enabled us
to acquire a deeper understanding of
many works by these composers. Following
our Town Hall Celebration Concert in
October 1989, commemorating Adrian's
20 years of conductorship, we felt that
the sky was the limit.
The next 12 years saw both a consolidation
of what we had already achieved and
a scaling of new musical heights.
Andrzej Panufnik's Sinfonia Sacra,
already mentioned by Stuart, was another
I must also mention Adrian's willingness
to give soloists from the Orchestra
the opportunity to perform concertos.
I will always remember the four concerts
at which I played, not timpani concertos
(!) but piano concertos, by Beethoven,
Bartók, Mozart and Rawsthorne.
Adrian leaves an immense musical legacy. We
in the SPO have lost a remarkable friend.
May he rest in peace.
anyone who has read Adrian’s book, An
Improbable Centenary, will tell you,
there are no fewer than four
pronunciations of "Slaithwaite".
Whilst strangers will say "Slay-thwaite"
and the local gentry "Slath-waite",
the common folk will say "Slah-wit"
(short "a" and "i"),
and the died-in-the-wool, traditional
Yorkshireman simply "Slah’t"
(long "a")! [Paul Serotsky]