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An Adopted Lancastrian - The Life and Works of James Hugh Reginald Dixon


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My copy of Joan Johnson's superb book plopped throught the letterbox today (yaaaaay postie). What a beautifully crafted book, and what a character. The book is winderfully presented and choc full of photos, colour and b/w and fantastic value too. Heartily recommended.

 

Paul

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By a coincidence, I turned up Dixon's Baroque Suite a couple of days ago and had a play through it. Rather good, especially the opening Toccata.

 

My copy was signed by the composer and given to me by Harry Croft Jackson, who was a predecessor of mine at St. Leonard-at-the-Hythe, Colchester and at St. Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall - another of life's coincidences.....

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My copy of Joan Johnson's superb book plopped throught the letterbox today (yaaaaay postie). What a beautifully crafted book, and what a character. The book is winderfully presented and choc full of photos, colour and b/w and fantastic value too. Heartily recommended.

 

Paul

 

Am I correct in thinking that this was a former organist of Saint Peter's Church, Lancaster? Was he also (perhaps for a short time) organist of Leicester Cathedral - and did he also wear an ear-ring? Or am I thinking of another organist?

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Am I correct in thinking that this was a former organist of Saint Peter's Church, Lancaster? Was he also (perhaps for a short time) organist of Leicester Cathedral - and did he also wear an ear-ring? Or am I thinking of another organist?

 

I don't think he was at St. Peter's, Lancaster or Leicester Cathedral (unless as an unsung assistant). He was Organist of the RC Cathedral in Lancaster for very many years and also at the Town Hall. And, yes, he did wear a gold ear-ring. It can be seen quite clearly in the picture on the cover of his Baroque Suite.

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You probably need to load the photo as a jpeg into an existing website and then post the URL of it as a hyperlink.

 

If you need to please feel free to PM me. I'll give you my email address so that you can send the scanned photo to me and I'll sort it out.

 

P

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The photograph of Dr Reginald-Dixon and MM will be found here http://www.petertand...-Reginald-Dixon.

 

MM has asked me to mention the circumstances of the photo, which appeared in the Liverpool Echo in August 1964, during the IAO Congress at Liverpool. MM was the youngest there, but he can't imagine that Dr Dixon was the oldest by any means....he would then be only sixty.

 

For the record, MM is the one on the right! It was his 15th birthday, and as they did for most of the week, Dr Dixon and he were sharing a joke and having a hoot of a time. Dr Dixon also wore high-heeled shoes, (of the gentleman's variety, of course), and always cut a rather unusual figure in an otherwise very sobre community.

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MM - Am I right in thinking that that picture might have been taken in the Ballroom of the Adelphi Hotel in Ranalagh Place? On the steps to the right or left of the entrance from the Foyer?

 

DW

 

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

 

I have a vague memory of an event at the Adelphi Hotel.....organists did things in style in those days....but we also attended a Lord Mayor's reception at the Town Hall, and that, I think, is slightly more likely considering that press photographers were in attendance.

 

It was a truly wonderful congress, and looking back, we took in a lovely trip to North Wales, Mold PC and Bangor Cathedral, we spent time at the Rushworth & Dreaper works AND the Willis works, we crawled over the organ at the anglican cathedral, enjoyed a magnificent recital by Caleb Jarvis at St George's Hall, and even a symphony concert at the Philharmonic Hall. Was the organ at the Wig-wam built then.....I heard it when it was very new? However, courtesy of a certain Mr Henry Willis, (who managed to get hold of some keys), four of us sneaked into the then redundant Great George Street Congregational Church, and spent about an hour inspecting and playing the historic William Hill organ!

 

However, the most lasting memory, which I chuckled about for years, was that of Dr Dixon.....WHAT a character he was....impish being the best description.

 

Looking at that photograph again, something strikes me, and that is the quality of British cloth at the time. Dr Dixon's suit was absolutely magnificent quality, and I noticed it even then. I bet you wouldn't get a suit like that for under £800 to-day!

 

Best,

 

MM

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I don't think he was at St. Peter's, Lancaster or Leicester Cathedral (unless as an unsung assistant). He was Organist of the RC Cathedral in Lancaster for very many years and also at the Town Hall. And, yes, he did wear a gold ear-ring. It can be seen quite clearly in the picture on the cover of his Baroque Suite.

 

He was certainly at Saint Peter's, Lancaster; see here: http://billingtonlan...f-dr-dixon.html

 

I wonder how he was regarded by his fellow organists? ( I wonder too - why the ear-ring?)

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MM - you mentioned the Great St George Street Congregational Hill. Some years ago now someone asked me what happened to it, I had no idea. Do you or anyone else know the answer please?

 

The NPOR gives the following outrageous information:

 

Musical Opinion, March 1970

organ apparently vandalised and destroyed when building

turned over for secular use, 1972

 

Church Times 6th Oct. 1972 says "Having already been attacked by vandals,

the organ .. was being systematically destroyed by the children under

adult supervision. The tin pipes were being beaten into `interesting'

shapes and the ranks of great wooden stops sawn into boxes." A supervisor

is recorded as saying "It's no longer a musical instrument. It is now

a different art-form. Children destroying an organ are a form of ballet."

Remains of the organ facade, along with pulpit, pews etc. advertised for sale

Autumn 1972 (Maintenance & Equipment News)

 

http://www.npor.org....dex=N10844&no=1

 

Vandalism sanctioned by supposedly responsible adults - who should have known better. What a tragic end for such an important historic instrument. I suspect that whatever was left was scrapped.

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He was certainly at Saint Peter's, Lancaster; see here: http://billingtonlan...f-dr-dixon.html I wonder how he was regarded by his fellow organists? ( I wonder too - why the ear-ring?)

 

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

 

I don't know about the ear-rings, but Dr Dixon was highly regarded as a composer of church music; writing some quite major works, including a setting of "The dream of Gerontius". Other works included piano, organ and instrumental, but I've never heard any of them. Percy Whitlock referred in some way to his good friend in one of his organ works. I suspect that Percy Whitlock enjoyed the friendship of, shall we say, "single gentlemen", but I wouldn't presume to make further comment.

 

The inter-war years were quite lively, and the younger generation were often quite rebelious and quite outrageous......jazz, the Bloomsbury set sniffing cocaine, the Bentley Boys, the Schneider Trophy speed trials etc., not to mention Noel Coward, Billy Thorburn and the likes of Billy Meyerl. They had style and character. Incidentally, I got his age completely wrong at the time of the LIverpool Congress, thanks to an inaccurate web-entry.. He died at the age of 88, in 1975, so he must have been 77 at least in 1964, which makes some sense....he the eldest and I the youngest attending. (I thought he looked older than 60)

 

When I get a moment or two, I'll get in touch with the current cathedral organist at Lancaster, because he presented a number of Dixon's compositions at a special anniversary concert celebrating the life and work of Dr J H R-D.

 

His other attributes included being an inventor....something to do with harmonium machanisms I believe, (take note Tony)

 

Best,

 

MM

 

PS: Don't forget the high-heeled shoes he wore.

 

PPS: An additional clarification about my comment referring to single gentlemen, PW was a married man of course, but he was noted for his warmth, sincerity, sense of fun and great tolerance. To-day, that would translate as easy-going and inclusive.

 

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He was certainly at Saint Peter's, Lancaster; see here: http://billingtonlan...f-dr-dixon.html

 

I wonder how he was regarded by his fellow organists? ( I wonder too - why the ear-ring?)

 

I see where I goofed - St. Peter's, Lancaster became the Cathedral!

 

Thanks for the very interesting link.

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I see where I goofed - St. Peter's, Lancaster became the Cathedral!

 

Fair enough - I had no idea that the cathedral had formerly been known as Saint Peter's, Lancaster.

 

 

Thanks for the very interesting link.

 

You are welcome, David.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think I mentioned the fact that Dr Dixon had an invention to his name, which was to do with a combined suction/compression reed organ, which combines harmonium and american organ methods of operation. I'm sure this will be of interest to Tony.

 

It can be found at the following:-

 

http://worldwide.esp...191213262A&KC=A

 

When it comes up, just click on "original document" to see the whole thing page by page.

 

Best,

 

MM

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race As a guest I attended the centenary dinner of the RCO. When grace was said by a prominent cleric I only heard one person responding with a booming Amen. I believe it was Dixon's voice.

 

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

 

 

Somehow, I can well imagine this, immediately foolwed by a sideways glance to left and right; his eyes twinkling and a hint of a smile on his face. He did something very similar at Liverpool, when Alastair Rushworth was rabbiting on about playing Bach P & F's on two "balanced choruses" on the new neo-baroque (electric action) job at Speke PC.

 

"What piece of Bach requires two?" He fairly boomed, and then smiled impishly as he waited for the reaction.

 

He was certaily a character and he was great fun.....but he was no fool.

 

Best,

 

MM

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Further to this thread, I also attended a London performance of Panis Vitae at the Central Hall Westminster.I purchased a copy of the score and I must confess that I found both unremarkable. There is an article about Dixon in The Organ which is very readable and gives a fascinating picture of the use of the organ in the liturgy of days of yore

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