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Dr Philip Marshall


Malcolm Riley

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I am undertaking research into the life and work of Dr Philip Marshall, native of Brighouse and long-time resident of Lincolnshire, best-known for his long and fruitful association with Lincoln Cathedral.

 

Through the good offices of Robert Gower I am collecting copies of his published and unpublished works. However, we would be pleased to trace other MSS or memorabilia related to this great musical character and would also be keen to receive any personal anecdotes which forum members might care to share.

 

Malcolm Riley

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Mention will, I hope, be made of his beautiful handwriting/manuscript. His script in the Lincoln chant book of his era is wonderful. Interestingly, it is very similar to that of Francis Jackson and both, of course, were pupils of Bairstow. Marshall was a great lover of cats and on the one occasion I was introduced to him (in The Duke Wiliiam in Lincoln) he was mourning the death of one of them. Until very recently I had an old cassette tape recording (copied from a recording made by a friend of mine who was a lay clerk at the time) of PM improvising on Battle Hymn of the Republic and another well known hymn at the end of a Lincoln conference of American Deans. Sadly, I no longer have it. Although It was in a style of cathedral improvisation very much of its era and would be considered dated and rather tame now it was very exciting and beautifully crafted at the time. The same service included the first performance of PM's setting of the ASB (now Common Worship) Litany.

 

My friend, Leonard Lamb, would be able to give all sorts of anecdotes and reminiscences if you were able to establish contact. Sadly he moved to Germany some years ago after marrying a German lady and everyone seems to have lost all contact with him. Roger Bryan may also be a useful source of information.

 

Malcolm

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I was DoM in a school in Lincoln from 1984 to 1988 and for a short while my wife and I sang with the cathedral Voluntary Choir which was then run by Philip Marshall. I think the intention was to fill in when the cathedral choir were on holiday etc. but we never actually managed to sing a service due to the seemingly random schedules and the fact that on occasions we arrived for rehearsals that did not actually happen. However when they did it was quite amazing - the stories of Bairstow, Francis Jackson, Howells etc. flowed freely and the musical demonstrations that illustrated them similarly so. The feeling of linking with a past generation (FJ excepted of course) was very strong both as mentioned above and in the way that he required the music to be performed. The Lincoln Psalter has been mentioned but significant also was his skill as improviser and accompanist especially in the psalms. I do not remember much of his playing of 'repertoire' but he certainly knew how to wring every nuance out of the Lincoln Willis - still one of my top instruments incidentally.

 

In a way I feel very lucky to have 'caught' the last year or so before he stepped down - I remember him as being quite reserved person and not someone who in any way sought centre stage but as someone who was one of the last in an important era of church music. After he left I was lucky enough to sing on many occasions with the cathedral choir under the excellent David Flood, things changed then of course. Dr Marshall could still be seen out and about in Lincoln for a while and on occasions played at local churches.

 

As Malcolm writes above - Leonard Lamb was around then as was Roger Bryan who gave me some organ lessons on the Willis at this time - there may be one or two others also - Julian Paul the 'resident' organ builder could also maybe help. I seem to remember that Marshall also dabbled in organ building himself.

 

A

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I gave the first performance of Dr Marshall's concerto for Piano and Strings in the mid 1980s with the ILEA String Orchestra conducted by Frederick Applewhite (whose son was a chorister at Lincoln under Dr Marshall) in the Minster. I think I still have my copy of the solo piano part somewhere but not the score or orchestral parts. Feel free to message me.

 

M

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Slightly sore point, AJJ. The recording was made for personal use so I was surprised to see it on a CD available for sale. The promoters had tried to contact me, unsuccessfully, but released it anyway! As they had only pressed a relatively small number and any proceeds were for the Lincoln choir or some other equally laudable charity I settled for a very small fee and a few CDs. You can hear the clock chime 9pm during the slow movement, if I recall correctly.

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  • 2 weeks later...

There is a great example of the master's art with PM's improvisation on the tune "Westminster Abbey" here:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hx4lhlOTJHo

 

Taken from the ?Cantoris tape "Marshalling and Organising" that I must have lying around somewhere.

 

In my opinion, this stands up to any of the current improvisation offerings

 

John

 

Thank you heartily for this. It does meander a bit perhaps, but he was obviously in total harmonic control at all times and what a refreshing change it is from the usual, tiresome French cathedral waffle (though I have to say that I'd be happy if I could manage even the latter.)

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Until very recently I had an old cassette tape recording (copied from a recording made by a friend of mine who was a lay clerk at the time) of PM improvising on Battle Hymn of the Republic and another well known hymn at the end of a Lincoln conference of American Deans.

 

The North American Deans' Conference, about 1980 I think - The Dean (Fiennes) asked PM to compose an anthem for the Festal Evensong that would either open or close the conference and, rather ill-advisedly came the question..... "What will you take as your text?".

 

With eyes turned heavenwardfor a carefully calculated 'stage' moment, he swung round to look him directly and wryly in the eye.............. "Psalm 3: verse 1 - "Lord, how are they increased that trouble me!".

 

Exit stage left, the Victor!

 

DW

 

By The way, just a point, but PM was never actually a pupil of ECB - he just missed him at Durham and the Professor by then was Arthur Hutchings.

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  • 6 months later...

To further clarify Dr Marshall's background and career I'll give a short biography of his life.

 

  • Born in Brighouse, West Yorkshire, in 1921. Moved with his family to Lincolnshire in 1925. From 1929 to 1939 Philip had organ lessons from Frank Graves, organist at St Wilfrid’s, Alford
  • In 1939 the Marshall family moved back to Brighouse. From 1939 to 1951 Philip studied with Whiteley Singleton, organist at the parish church of St Martin, and he maintained contact with him throughout his National Service (1943 to ’48). Whiteley soon discovered there was little he could teach Philip about organ playing so practically all the lessons were focussed on harmony, counterpoint and composition.
  • Philip had many academic successes in rapid succession: ARCM ’45, ARCO’45, FTCL’46, FRCO’46 and B Mus (Dunelm)’50.
  • Philip and his wife Margaret moved to Boston in 1951 where he became organist and master of the choristers at the famous Stump. In 1955 he was awarded the degree (by examination) of Doctor of Music by Durham University, http://reed.dur.ac.uk/xtf/view?docId=ead/mus/dumusic.xml;query=exercises;brand=default#qxj-4529 the same degree Francis Jackson would be awarded two years later.

  • Subsequent posts: Ripon Cathedral 1957 to ‘66

    Lincoln Cathedral 1966 to ‘86

  • He composed a large number of works for organ, orchestra and choral. Many of these have been recorded and broadcast.

  • He died in Potterhanworth, Lincolnshire in 2005

  • Notes:

    Biographies claiming Philip was a pupil of Sir Edward Bairstow are in error. The mistake is probably due to the fact that Whiteley Singleton B Mus (Dunelm), FRCO had been a pupil of Sir Edward and when PM was asked with whom he had studied, Philip would puzzle his questioners by saying he had received the teachings of Sir Edward and discussed his philosophy on music at the fireside of the local organist!

great grandson of Whiteley Singleton

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  • 4 weeks later...

I first met PM on a visit to Lincoln in January 1974 when I was a Lay Clerk at Windsor.He and his wife Margaret,stayed with me at Windsor.I had always wanted to `end up` at Lincoln and in 1977,after being engaged to sing in the St Matthew Passion,he offered me a Lay Vicarate `without any stupid audition as we won`t get better than you`! Thus I moved to Lincoln in 1978.In 1980,in celebration of the 800th anniversary of the completion of St Hugh`s Quire,he wrote the Cantata `In Laudem Sancte Hugonis' for Orchestra,choir, echo choir and solo Countertenor[the latter two being for the chamber choir I directed and me.] He subsequently wrote `Four Spiritual Songs` dedicated to me,which were never published and I have lost the original sadly. I have several compositions,published and not in mss and a wonderful video of the local News shortly before he retired.Again, alas the one of him and David Flood is no longer available. I was away on holiday when he passed over,but his widow lives in a Nursing Home here in Scothern,Lincs and I visit every day and am her P.O.A. Besides being a musical genius, he was also a gifted artist,made steam locos from scratch,buit organs and made wonderful wooden items, a wall coat rack made from organ stops I am looking at as I type this !!.

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