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Dr Dennis Townhill


bazuin
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As far as I am aware the passing of Dennis Townhill OBE on the 18th of July has not been mentioned here. For many years Organist and Master of the Choristers at St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral in Edinburgh, he was also largely responsible for the founding of St Mary's Music School, a specialist school for young musicians of school age, which functions alongside the choir school. As an organist he performed the complete works of Bach, Buxtehude, and Franck, and recorded the completed organ works of Kenneth Leighton. He was 83.

 

Greetings

 

Bazuin

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Guest Cynic
As far as I am aware the passing of Dennis Townhill OBE on the 18th of July has not been mentioned here. For many years Organist and Master of the Choristers at St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral in Edinburgh, he was also largely responsible for the founding of St Mary's Music School, a specialist school for young musicians of school age, which functions alongside the choir school. As an organist he performed the complete works of Bach, Buxtehude, and Franck, and recorded the completed organ works of Kenneth Leighton. He was 83.

 

Greetings

 

Bazuin

 

 

Thanks for posting this information.

 

I remember hearing Dr.Townhill twice live and enjoyed these recitals, especially when he got onto the Leighton pieces at which point the playing became especially alive. I have his Priory recording of these which is excellent, and I believe was made with the active support of the composer himself.

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I have very fond memories of Dennis Townhill and his playing.

 

In the 1970's, back when I was a teenager, St Mary's Cathedral had a fairly active program of recitals and I went to many of them.

 

He did the complete Bach works at least twice during the 1970's as a series of thirteen (I think) one hour recitals during the Edinburgh festival - I think that I got to about half of them and wished that I could have heard them all. I knew that he had done Franck as well, although I don't recall being at any of that series.

 

Although he was a very good performer I always suspected that he suffered from a little bit of "stage fright" at recitals, although it never came across in his playing. I remember that there was a very definite ritual that he went through. About ten minutes before the start of the recital someone, usually his assistant, would set up the console for him - lights and blower on, music on the music desk open at the first piece and the appropriate stops drawn. At the appointed hour, Townhill would come out front and say a few words of welcome to the audience - he then turned and walked briskly back to the console, got on the bench and started to play immediately.

 

One other random memory - I remember him playing "Vor deinen Thron tret’ ich hiermit" in memory of Brian Runnett at the end of a recital that he happened to be giving a few days after Runnett died in a car crash.

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I too have special reason to remember Dennis Townhill with affection ; I only went to one recital he gave in Edinburgh, and certainly Leighton featured, although I am bound to say that I have never been terribly keen on his music.

 

However, the closing piece on the programme was Hollins Trumpet Minuet. This was the first time I heard this piece, I fell in love with it on the spot and have continued to enjoy it ever since.

 

Happy memories, and RIP.

 

M

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