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Barry Oakley

Peter Goodman

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No sooner have we learned of the death of Stanley Vann when yet another eminent organist takes leave of this life. Peter Goodman, Mus.B., FRCO, ARCM, the former City Organist of Hull, died at his Puerto Rey home, Spain, on Wednesday. 7th April. He was 88 and had been diagnosed with cancer earlier this year.

 

Born in Bexley Heath, he became perhaps the youngest person to play the BBC organ when he appeared on BBC Children’s’ Hour with Uncle Mac. At the time he was a boy chorister at New College, Oxford.

 

He later went on to become an organ scholar at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge. Most notable amongst his tutors were (Sir) Harold Darke and (Sir) George Thalben Ball. For a time he was an assistant organist at Kings College Chapel, Cambridge.

 

Peter arrived in Hull during the early 1950’s at the age of 29 to become Organist and Master of Choristers at Holy Trinity Parish Church, inheriting a choir acknowledged to be of cathedral standard and the UK’s largest parish church organ. He had previously held a similar post at Guildford Pro Cathedral.

 

Later during the 1950’s he was appointed City Organist on the death of Norman Strafford, his predecessor at Holy Trinity and also architect of the rebuilt City Hall organ by Compton. It was a post he held for around 35 years, giving regular recitals, and becoming at the time the longest serving civic organist. I was privileged to be his console assistant when he gave his last major public recital in the UK on the organ of Leeds Town Hall.

 

Peter Goodman made many radio broadcasts and was a leading figure in musical circles in Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire. He resurrected the Hull Bach Choir and was closely associated with Hull Choral Union.

 

All Peter’s children who survive him, Wendy (cello), Jennifer (clarinet), Malcolm (French horn) and Roy, the well-known conductor, all followed their parents by studying at the Royal College of Music.

 

Peter was a warm, generous and friendly man, much admired and esteemed by all who knew him. He will be greatly missed by his family and by his many friends here in the UK and Spain.

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It’s proving to be an “Annus Horribilus” for the organ-fraternity, and the death of Peter Goodman is a little close for me. I got to know Peter quite well at Hull, and he was so utterly charming, unfailingly polite and generous spirited; perhaps typical of his generation, background and education.

 

He was incredibly helpful when I first had to grapple with the organ at Hull City Hall, and he not only gave me many tips about the effect of the organ in the hall, (much louder than at the console), but spent quite some time suggesting this or that detail, and even an internal tour of the instrument, of which he was justifiably proud, even if it was starting to show its age.

 

Many was the time we sat together at the Town Hall recitals, and what always struck me was the sheer popularity of Peter. Everyone who knew Peter loved him and liked him without exception.

 

The interesting thing about Peter’s playing was not his absolute accuracy. He could wander and make mistakes, (as we all do), but what marked Peter out was his total musicianship. I recall, I think, Andrew Leach (the former assistant at Beverley), saying that Peter never made mistakes, he simply improved the music!

 

There was more than a hint of truth in that I suspect, because Peter’s recitals always remained memorable.

 

At his very best, he was quite stunning, and his recording from the City Hall of one of the Guilmant Sonatas (2nd?), was almost definitive. It was released on the Vista label, and it is one the few organ LP’s I still cherish.

So another sad day it is, but again, a relatively long life, a fulfilled life and one which gave great pleasure to so many. RIP.

 

MM

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He was incredibly helpful when I first had to grapple with the organ at Hull City Hall, and he not only gave me many tips about the effect of the organ in the hall, (much louder than at the console), but spent quite some time suggesting this or that detail, and even an internal tour of the instrument, of which he was justifiably proud, even if it was starting to show its age.

 

There was a greater appreciation of the organ's power by the player when the moveable Compton console could be sited near the front of the stage. Pop music was largely the cause of the console becoming fixed virtually underneath the pipework.

 

Many was the time we sat together at the Town Hall recitals, and what always struck me was the sheer popularity of Peter. Everyone who knew Peter loved him and liked him without exception.

 

The interesting thing about Peter’s playing was not his absolute accuracy. He could wander and make mistakes, (as we all do), but what marked Peter out was his total musicianship. I recall, I think, Andrew Leach (the former assistant at Beverley), saying that Peter never made mistakes, he simply improved the music!

 

That's absolutely correct. Peter would agree to that.

 

 

There was more than a hint of truth in that I suspect, because Peter’s recitals always remained memorable.

 

At his very best, he was quite stunning, and his recording from the City Hall of one of the Guilmant Sonatas (2nd?), was almost definitive. It was released on the Vista label, and it is one the few organ LP’s I still cherish.

So another sad day it is, but again, a relatively long life, a fulfilled life and one which gave great pleasure to so many. RIP.

 

When I last visited Peter in Spain he loaned me a digital transcript of his recording that includes the Cook voluntary and which uses the City Hall's wonderful orchestral trumpet. Recently I gave a copy to Michael Rhodes, the custodian of Hanley's Victoria Hall organ (where I shall be going very soon today) and he was struck by Peter's playing and the seamless registration.

 

MM

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I was sorry to hear of Peter' Goodman's death. I didn't know him very well but grew up with Roy and knew Malcolm well, as well as doing some playing with Wendy. I remember Mary Goodman telling me, with some pride, that Jennifer had decided not to do music and to read English instead, which, she added, is what she had done at Cambridge.

 

His recitals at Hull were popular and he and Mary, who rode everywhere on her bicycle with her violin/viola strapped to her back, were well liked in the city and made a significant contribution to its musical life.

 

May he rest in peace.

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I just recalled a lovely moment when Peter played a Bach Chorale Prelude during a City Hall recital, and made a fairly noticeable mistake by landing on the wrong note for a particular bit of ornamentation. With tremendous panache, he not only managed to make it sound wonderfully decorative and intentional, he even inverted later with similar panache and quick witedness.

 

Grinning from ear to ear afterwards, I shared my appreciation for his "on the fly" re-arrangement.

 

Peter replied, "Well the trick is always to make a mistake sound musical AND intentional."

 

He pulled it off brilliantly, where others would merely have stumbled.

 

A humble and unassuming gentleman always, I do recall a moment of pride, when I mentioned vocal music. He managed to twist the conversation around to Italian music, just so that he could mention Allegri. Of course, that led to the "Miserere" and Peter's queue to announce proudly, "My son Roy sings those high notes on the King's recording, you know."

 

How could he not be proud of that peerless treble voice?

 

As for Mary, I have hair-raising memories of her riding her bi-cycle with the aforesaid instrument strapped to her back. How she managed to survive the traffic of Hull, while humming a Beethoven Symphony and riding through red traffic-lights, will always be a source of eternal mystery.

 

Above all, they were great characters, much liked, and as others have pointed out, made a great contribution to the artistic life of the city.

 

MM

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Was given to understand yesterday evening that a memorial concert to Peter is being given this evening (Saturday 3 July) in Holy Trinity Parish Church, Hull. Sorry I don't know the time it commences.

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Having been away from the Board for some time I had missed this item. A sad loss. As a student in Hull I attended a good many of Peter's recitals, the programmes for which I still have somewhere, not least the celebrity programme for the recital to mark his 50th birthday.

 

By way of information for anyone interested the Guilmant Sonata on the Vista LP is Number 5, not number 2. Anyone able to access the recording of the Cook Fanfare will get to hear not only the Orchestral Trumpet but also the Bombarde and finally the Tubas. I have a letter from Peter in which he stated that he had alternated the first two before finishing up on the Tubas. What a pity it is that this performance like many others recorded by the late Michael Smythe are not readily available to a younger generation of organ enthusiasts .

 

Brian Childs

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Having been away from the Board for some time I had missed this item. A sad loss. As a student in Hull I attended a good many of Peter's recitals, the programmes for which I still have somewhere, not least the celebrity programme for the recital to mark his 50th birthday.

 

By way of information for anyone interested the Guilmant Sonata on the Vista LP is Number 5, not number 2. Anyone able to access the recording of the Cook Fanfare will get to hear not only the Orchestral Trumpet but also the Bombarde and finally the Tubas. I have a letter from Peter in which he stated that he had alternated the first two before finishing up on the Tubas. What a pity it is that this performance like many others recorded by the late Michael Smythe are not readily available to a younger generation of organ enthusiasts .

 

Brian Childs

 

=======================

 

 

I'm sure Brian will also confirm that the Guilmant is "almost" definitive, but Peter rather naughtily added one of the Hull City Hall percussion registers in a quiet section, to brilliant and very musical effect it has to be said.

 

I have the LP, and that Michael Smythe recording is first-class. Quite how he captured the enormous range of the instrument, including that fearsome and ferocious 16ft Tuba extension, without it sounding over compressed on the disc, is a mystery to me.

 

A small point, but at the end of the Cook "Fanfare," I think Peter dragged out, (pressed on), both the Tuba and the Orchestral Trumpet at the same time.....something of a sonic "experience" in the flesh. I remember briefly demonstrating this to a crowd of organ-crawlers, and watching in the mirror, one of the ladies visibly jumped as if struck by high-voltage.

 

MM

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