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Jonathan Harvey 1939 - 2012


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I was present last Friday night at Birmingham University where there was a concert, given by Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, that included Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire and Olivier Messiaen's Quator pour le fin du temps, two of the truly great works of the 20th Century and possibly works for which, certainly in the case of Schoenberg, the composer is best remembered.


Before the Messiaen there was an announcement that Jonathan Harvey, who had been born locally in Sutton Coldfield, had died and that the performance of the Messiaen was, that night, dedicated to his memory. Those who know the Messiaen and those of us who knew Jonathan well, will realise how singularly appropriate this particular dedication of this particular piece was.


Jonathan left to the world a wide variety of music including a settings for choir of Come Holy Ghost, written in 1984, and Dum Transisset Sabbatum from 1995 and for organ and choir God is our refuge written in 1986. There is also a Fantasia for organ which he wrote in 1991. The Fantasia has, along with Laus Deo, also for organ, been recorded by Kevin Bowyer on a CD that also includes works by Malcolm Williamson and Peter Maxwell Davies..


Jonathan Harvey died last Tuesday, the 4th of December.


May he rest in peace.

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Jonathan Harvey taught me for a year at university - he was an inspirational teacher as well as one of the most imprtant and charismatic composers of his time. He was also a really decent person.



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