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The Late Percy Whitlock


All those who were privileged to know him will have heard with the profoundest regret of the death on May 1st [1946] of Percy William Whitlock, organist of the Municipal Pavilion at Bournemouth for the past fourteen years, a composer of very real merit and a frequent broadcaster. He was forty two.

There is no need to stress here the quality of his work. He was a brilliant recitalist and his compositions for the organ are widely known and played. They have a peculiarly piquant and personal idiom and reveal the absolute sincerity of purpose and integrity that were characteristic of everything he did.

Apart from his organ music, which includes two Fantasie-Chorals, the very popular "Five Short Pieces", Four Extemporisations, two books of seven sketches, and a sonata, he had written five anthems, six church services, three introits, and a symphony in G minor for organ an orchestra (see Musical Opinion for August, 1937).

The death of a performer and composer of his calibre at the age of forty two is essentially tragic, but in the case of Percy Whitlock it seems doubly and trebly so, for he had most extraordinary and endearing personal qualities. His personality carried with it an atmosphere of serenity and gentleness seldom encountered in these sophisticated and disingenuous times. He had, too, a virile wit and sense of fun, and his letters, of which I am proud to have a great number, were always matters for laughing and rejoicing. Those who met him in the first instance in his capacity as a fine musician and a player of the front rank, soon came to feel that they would be glad to know him whether he were a musician or no; he was great as a person, and the embodiment of kindliness and tolerance.

He was for ten years (1920-30) assistant organist at Rochester Cathedral, and was educated at Rochester Cathedral School and the R.C.M., succeeding Mr. Philip Dore as borough organist at Bournemouth in 1932. For some while he was also organist at St Stephen's, Bournemouth.

He delighted in ancient and mellowed things, and his house at Bournemouth was full of fascinating pieces he and his wife had collected. His musicianship, sincerity, charm, enthusiasm, and sense of humour made him a unique and delightful character who will be remembered with affection by all who came into contact with him.

L.S Barnard

Musical Opinion June 1946 Volume 69 No 825. p280



The tally of church choral music given in this obituary has been increased considerably.

Catalogue of Organ works
The Organ Symphony
Some Orchestral compositions
Obituary from the Musical Opinion, June 1946
Whitlock index page

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