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Malcolm Kemp

Whitlock

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A former Rochester organ scholar told me recently that he had been told that Whitlock had a second thumb on his right hand. Does anyone know whether this was correct? (I can't find me copy of the biography)

 

Malcolm

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A former Rochester organ scholar told me recently that he had been told that Whitlock had a second thumb on his right hand. Does anyone know whether this was correct? (I can't find me copy of the biography)

 

Malcolm

 

 

 

If the answer is yes, I guess that's a thumbs up then.

 

Best,

 

MM

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Always worth trying Google: searching for "Percy Whitlock" and "thumb" throws up all sorts of things, including the following found at http://www.stpaulscathedral.org.au/images/uploads/Newsletter%20May%202010.pdf

 

A deformity of his right hand gave Whitlock a thumb which was longer and thinner than his left hand thumb. He used this thumb to great advantage, as it was very easy for him to “thumb down” onto a lower manual, thus enabling him to readily play on three manuals at the one time. Some of his music exploits this technique.

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Always worth trying Google: searching for "Percy Whitlock" and "thumb" throws up all sorts of things, including the following found at http://www.stpaulsca...0May%202010.pdf

 

A deformity of his right hand gave Whitlock a thumb which was longer and thinner than his left hand thumb. He used this thumb to great advantage, as it was very easy for him to “thumb down” onto a lower manual, thus enabling him to readily play on three manuals at the one time. Some of his music exploits this technique.

 

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

 

 

Blimey! I guess it's a thumbs down then. :(

 

 

Best,

 

MM

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In the picture of Percy at the Pavilion Compton on the back of the Whitlock Companion, it looks as if he might indeed have had a longer than usual right thumb. Or am I just seeing what I think I ought to see?

 

A couple of other Percy questions/observations:

 

In the Toccata from the Plymouth Suite, should the first LH entry be marked 'Swell'? It isn't in my copy, but later there's a marking 'Choir' which would otherwise be redundant because the LH would be there anyway.

 

Googling, I found a report relating to the death of Leslie Barnard last December at the age of 95. I didn't notice any obituary in any of the sources I usually consult. Apart from his friendship with Whitlock, he wrote a good many articles, especially for 'The Organ', which were perceptive and often very witty. RIP

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In the Toccata from the Plymouth Suite, should the first LH entry be marked 'Swell'? It isn't in my copy, but later there's a marking 'Choir' which would otherwise be redundant because the LH would be there anyway.

 

I've always understood the vertical bracket enclosing both manual staves and the 'choir' marking at the start to mean just that, which means that the next LH 'choir' marking two beats before the RH solo reed entry is either cautionary or indeed redundant, depending on how you wish to interpret it.

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His 'Exultemus' was the final voluntary after Choral Matins yesterday at Guildford. Great piece - just a shame I don't have a tuba to do it full justice!

 

VA

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Whilst listening to the Jennifer Bates Whitlock CD, I have found that there's a lot on the internet about Percy William Whitlock which is of great interest.

 

http://www.musicweb-...l.com/whitlock/ The information about the Plymouth Suite is worth a read.

 

http://whitlockfamil...photos.aspx?p=6 Here, you will find seven photos listed as PH1026 - 1032.

 

A remarkable man !!

Remarkable enough for me to contact the Whitlock Family Association to ask them to include Percy Whitlock in their 'Noteable Whitlocks' list.

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Whitlock's Right Thumb

 

At birth it was discovered that Whitlock's right thumb had bifurcated. The supernumerary digit was removed whilst he was a baby leaving him with a thumb which was longer and thinner than most, more akin to a middle finger, apparently. There are a couple of photos in the Whitlock Archive which show it quite clearly. He wasn't in the least self-conscious about it; indeed, he took full advantage of it as an organist (much to the discomfort of those of us with normal spans! Someone told me that he was also double-jointed.

 

Incidentally two 'new' photographs of Whitlock have been posted recently on the 'net by the TopFoto agency (TopFoto.co.uk), showing 'Percy Whitlock, the boy organist, who has been elected Kent Scholar, Royal College of Music', taken on 8 April 1920, when PW was 16. They were taken at Minor Canon Row, Rochester. An interior shot shows the young maestro seated at Charles Hylton Stewart's upright piano with a rather impressive double page mansucript on the desk. It's difficult to establish what the piece is, apart from the fact that there are four staves per system. A student string quartet, perhaps? We shall probably never know!

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