horizontal line

This timely publication, coming ten years after the death of Felix Aprahamian, is likely to be the closest thing to the autobiography that he never wrote. Felix – as he was ever known – was deputy music critic at the Sunday Times (1948-89), a war-time concert manager for the LPO, and a life-long organ enthusiast. The book is divided into four sections: an introduction by Lewis Foreman, providing an essential biography; the Musical Diaries (1933-35 and later); articles and reminiscences about Friends and Contemporaries; and Remembering the Great Organists.

There is much material specific to choral and organ music. A tour of Parisian churches in 1933 (unfortunately made in August when many a titulaire was en vacance) still fascinates – he got to stand at Widor’s elbow as he played. Following is a vivid account of seeing his life-long idol Frederick Delius, now an invalid, in his home at Grez-sur-Loing. The composer died the following summer. Notes from the 1934 recital by Alcock, Thalben-Ball and Cunningham on the newly rebuilt Royal Albert Hall organ allude to a 15-minute cipher, widely reported. ‘Sheer bad luck on Harrison! It was painful to see [Willis] giggling in a box, and “Batty” Verne, Aubrey Allen and Bonavia-Hunt splitting their sides in the arena. Distinctly bad taste to vent such professional jealousy in public!’ The articles and reminiscences encompass writings for journals, newspapers, broadcast and lecture scripts, plus unpublished writing. Concise, personal and wide-ranging, perhaps the most valuable insights concern the French composers he promoted at United Music Publishers.

Remembering the great organists collates content from audio-cassettes of a USA lecture tour in the spring of 1988. Marchal, Bonnet, Tournemire, Dupré, Thalben-Ball, Nadia Boulanger, Lynwood Farnham and Jeanne Demessieux form a roll-call of acquaintances and firm friends who enriched Felix’s life and fill these pages.

MATTHEW POWER Read the full review on Agora Classica

   Read full review   

To continue reading, please upgrade to a premium account. You will have immediate full access.

Read more classical music reviews online here:

Classical Music, 2016 - ©Rhinegold Publishing