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John Smith RIP

Jim Treloar

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Many on here, particularly those who will have been associated with the Organ Club, will be sad to hear of the passing of John Smith at the age of 84 following a fall and further complications. He had been a member since 1954 and was president in the late 70s. He was also secretary of the Brighton Association for many years.

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I am very sad to hear of the death of John S Smith.

My aunts, who were his neighbours, introduced me to him just after his father died and they thought that he would appreciate some company. At our first meeting in his home, about 1957, he played the adagio from BWV564 on his reed organ - and on that instrument it sounded very well. At that time I had only heard transcriptions, hymns and rather sentimental pieces on the organ, but John introduced me to Buxtehude and Couperin which sounded very strange until I quickly became hooked on "real" organ music.

I went with him to Hove Town Hall just before their Willis was sold 1959 to Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School - and before the Town Hall burnt down. He played, among other pieces, Bach's Toccata and Fugue in F, BWV 540, and he let me play a hymn tune, so I was one of the last people to play that organ in its original home.

I have encountered John on many occasions since then, nearly always at recitals. He eventually swapped his reed organ for an electronic, and started buying organ recordings. With both of these he was critical about sound quality, and waited until there was equipment that he could bear to listen to.

He was always enthusiastic and encouraging, very well informed and willing to share his knowledge. I owe my passion for the organ to John. If it had not been for him, I don't know whether I would have ever known about the instrument's potential, and certainly I would not have become aware of it so early.

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