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William Davies 1921-2006


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As one of Bill's daughters I have the sad news that he died on March 2nd. His funeral will be on Monday March 20th, Tunbridge Wells Crematorium at noon then St Mary's Church Salehurst, East Sussex (nearest station Robertsbridge 1.5 miles) at 2.30 p.m. We know that many people have happy memories of his organ playing and music making, any recollections here will be most welcome.

Alison Davies

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William Davies (1921-2006)

 

Although I never knew William "Bill" Davies terribly well, I nevertheless have special memories of him, and even a couple of signed LP's.

 

The special memories included a somewhat riotous dinner, when "Bill," his wife Felicty, Carlo Curley, myself, Ena Baga and Frank Fowler rather took a certain London Hotel restaurant by storm. This was my first meeting with "Bill" and his andecdotes and talent were there in abundance. What ade is especially memorable, was the fact that I had written a piece of music for Ena Baga, which she crhistened on the night, and "Bill" was the first person ever to perform it.

 

As an theatre-organist, classical-organist and particularly as a pianist, "Bill" Davies could shine, and what a pleasure it was to see his deft fingerwork as I stood alongside him when he played the Litolff "Scherzo".

 

Then there was "Bill" the speaker and entertainer, who gave an utterly outstanding talk to a local organist's association, using the piano, a lot of extremely funny anecdotes and a faultless delivery. I was glad that he took up the invitation, and it was an utterly remarkable evening, as we sat in awe of his BBC tales, other andecdotes and pianist skills. The bit when he took a tennis-ball in hand and played a faultless Chopin item, will remain with me forever. It was made all the funnier by the fact that he was recreating a moment when a very famous, but rather drunk international pianist had done the same thing.....with an orange....almost destroying a Bechstein Grand in the process.

 

Very, very few musicians could claim such depth and breadth, and even fewer could work to such deadlines or under the same pressure as a staff organist and pianist for the BBC; but he did, and for many, many years.

 

"Bill" was also the one person who knew the late Sidney Torch quite well, and it was he and "Bill" who started that incredibly successful programme "Friday night is music night."

 

So whilst I may not have known "Bill" as well as others, I'm sure that my particular memories will be as unique, memorable and delightful as any.

 

He will be missed, but his memory will be treasured.

 

R.I.P.

 

 

Colin Mitchell (aka: MusingMuso)

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One of the instruments that I look after is the Christie Cinema organ that is now in The Gordon Craig Theatre, Stevenage. Bill was one of the organists that opened it, following its move from a nearby social club. He was a regular there and always performed a great concert that covered every genre of organ music - from memory. I remember one time in particular when he appeared about an hour and a half before the concert, sat at the console to set up his pistons..... 3 I think... played through Dieu Parmi Nous and then went to the bar. He'll be sorely missed

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
As one of Bill's daughters I have the sad news that he died on March 2nd. His funeral will be on Monday March 20th, Tunbridge Wells Crematorium at noon then St Mary's Church Salehurst, East Sussex (nearest station Robertsbridge 1.5 miles) at 2.30 p.m. We know that many people have happy memories of his organ playing and music making, any recollections here will be most welcome.

Alison Davies

 

 

I clearly remember one of the pieces from his repertoire, the Scherzo from Midsummer Night's Dream (Mendelssohn) in WD's own arrangement. I heard him play it once on the radio and once (not so very long ago) live. Both times it was both entrancing and spot-on! I recognised a true master at work: you should be very proud of your father.

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As one of Bill's daughters I have the sad news that he died on March 2nd. His funeral will be on Monday March 20th, Tunbridge Wells Crematorium at noon then St Mary's Church Salehurst, East Sussex (nearest station Robertsbridge 1.5 miles) at 2.30 p.m. We know that many people have happy memories of his organ playing and music making, any recollections here will be most welcome.

Alison Davies

 

Whilst never having had the privilege of meeting Bill Davies, I have known and owned, admired and envied the talent displayed in, his recorded performances, at first on LP and subsequently on CD, for over 30 years:from his very individual use of the Royal Festival Hall organ to "A Retiring Collection" from Howden-le-Wear. They have given me, as I am sure they have given innumerable others, enormous pleasure. and will continue to do so. It is a legacy of which anyone can be proud. My sincere sympathy to the family members at this sad time.

 

Brian Childs

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Whilst never having had the privilege of meeting Bill Davies, I have known and owned, admired and envied the talent displayed in, his recorded performances, at first  on LP and subsequently on CD, for over 30 years:from his very individual use of the Royal Festival Hall organ to "A Retiring Collection" from Howden-le-Wear. They have given me, as I am sure they have given innumerable others, enormous pleasure. and will continue to do so. It is a legacy of which anyone can be proud. My sincere sympathy to the family members at this sad time.

 

Brian Childs

 

So sorry to hear of William Davies death.

I never heard him play live, but nigel Ogden frequently played his recordings.

I am sure that Wiliam played at one of Carlo Curley's concerts, with the Allen organ at Alexandra Palace in the 1980's ? and he was just fantastic and full of life.

Colin Richell

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So sorry to hear of William Davies death.

I never heard him play live, but nigel Ogden frequently played his recordings.

I am sure that Wiliam played at one of Carlo Curley's concerts, with the Allen organ at Alexandra Palace in the 1980's ? and he was just fantastic and full of life.

Colin Richell

 

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On behalf of the BBC Organ Society we would like to pass on our condolences to the family of Bill Davis. We have very happy memories and tales from him playing the Compton Organ at Broadcasting House, London. His unique style of music making on the organ will be sorely missed.

 

With respect

 

Roger Tucker – Keith Loxam.

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WILLIAM (BILL) DAVIES

 

I got to know Bill some three years by telephone before we met. It started when I was Tuning Manager for J.W.Walker & Sons, who held the Wurlitzer tuning contracts. In those days “The Organist Entertains” was introduced by Robin Richmond who went round the country recording organists from various venues.

 

In many cases I would receive a telephone call from Robin or the producer telling me they were recording a particular organ tomorrow and could I get it tuned in time for the recording! At such short notice this occasionally meant me having to go out early and do the job myself. On one famous occasion I told the BBC that I would be at the Gaumont State Kilburn at 7 am on the next morning to tune for a Gorge Blackmore recording but they would have to provide a key holder for me. They did – it was Gorge himself who was there at 7 am to meet me and held keys for the tuning for his recording.

 

Bill Davies was much more organised and would phone me up well in advance to tell me of any recordings he was doing so that I could get a maintenance visit properly organised. I greatly appreciated his thoughtfulness and we got to know each other quite well albeit by phone.

 

One morning Bill rang me from the Granada Tooting at 9.am, where he was due to make a recording at 10 am. I knew the organ had been tuned the day before so there should have been no serious problems, but there was. The pallet control on the Main regulator had broken causing over blowing with result the Main Chest pipework was sounding about a half a semitone higher than the rest of the organ.

 

There was nothing I could do to get anyone to Tooting by 10 am (this was before mobile telephones invaded our lives) so I suggested to Bill that they would have to abandon the recording. Bill was silent for a minute and then said “I think I can play round it. If I re-register so that I don’t mix any of the Main Chest pipework with anything else and keep the wobblers (tremulants – Ed!) on everywhere at all times it should work.”

 

This he did, the recording was made and unless you knew what had happened and was listening for it you would not notice – I heard of no come backs from the recordings – it was unkindly said by some that Robin Richmond did not notice what had happened either. This was Bill showing his superb musicianship and his tolerance – I can think of many other organists who would have been carried away with the vapours if this had happened to them.

 

Frank Fowler

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As one of Bill's daughters I have the sad news that he died on March 2nd. His funeral will be on Monday March 20th, Tunbridge Wells Crematorium at noon then St Mary's Church Salehurst, East Sussex (nearest station Robertsbridge 1.5 miles) at 2.30 p.m. We know that many people have happy memories of his organ playing and music making, any recollections here will be most welcome.

Alison Davies

 

Sorry to hear of the death of William (Bill) Davies. I remember him with gratitude and affection. A talented and approachable gentleman with a lively sense of humour, who lived life to the full. He was organist and choirmaster at Sutton Baptist Church during my schooldays in the 1950s and 1960s. I babysat Alison on occasions - a strikingly pretty young lady with a ready smile and beautiful curls. All the girls were intelligent and capable - I have followed Melinda's progress from afar in recent years via the odd internet entry. She and my sister (deceased 1976) were bridesmaids at my wedding thirty six years ago - a memorable occasion when Bill Davies managed to play Vidor's toccata on an instrument little better than a harmonium, in Banstead Baptist Church - then a tin chapel! I remember the beautiful notes of Melinda's solo forming a backdrop as we signed the register in the vestry.

 

Bill and his family gave immense support and help during teenage years and he instilled and inspired an interest and knowledge of singing and music that has been a lifelong joy. I am only sorry that we failed to keep in touch and so I never thanked him. My prayers and thoughts will be with the family on Monday and in the coming days. I thank God for the life of Bill Davies. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

 

Valerie C Isle of Wight

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  • 3 months later...

Many thanks on behalf of all of Bill's family for the wonderful response to the news of his death. The warm, kind and funny memories as well as the admiration for his superb skills have all been much appreciated. Readers here might like to know that Nigel Ogden is presenting a special tribute edition of "The Organist Entertains" on Tuesday 27th June at 20.00 on BBC Radio 2, featuring recordings of Bill from across his career. We also have advance news of a concert performance of the Faure Requiem to be given in Lancing College, Sussex on May 12th 2007, and dedicated to his memory. This concert will be under the direction of Neil Jenkins, and Bill's son-in-law Stephen Varcoe will be the baritone soloist. More details on tickets available nearer the time.

Alison Davies

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Many thanks on behalf of all of Bill's family for the wonderful response to the news of his death. The warm, kind and funny memories as well as the admiration for his superb skills have all been much appreciated. Readers here might like to know that Nigel Ogden is presenting a special tribute edition of "The Organist Entertains" on Tuesday 27th June at 20.00 on BBC Radio 2, featuring recordings of Bill from across his career. We also have advance news of a concert performance of the Faure Requiem to be given in Lancing College, Sussex on May 12th 2007, and dedicated to his memory. This concert will be under the direction of Neil Jenkins, and Bill's son-in-law Stephen Varcoe will be the baritone soloist. More details on tickets available nearer the time.

Alison Davies

 

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

 

I was fortunate enough to switch the car radio on this week, and Brian Kay was talking about Bill Davies and playing some music from the BBC archives.

 

My words, WHAT a pianist Bill was!

 

I only heard him live in the latter part of his life, when he was getting on a bit, but to hear those earlier recordings was really quite something.

 

I think the programme may still be on the "listen again" list - Radio 2.

 

I don't think there are many organists who could come close to that sort of pianistic ability.

 

MM

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Many thanks on behalf of all of Bill's family for the wonderful response to the news of his death. The warm, kind and funny memories as well as the admiration for his superb skills have all been much appreciated. Readers here might like to know that Nigel Ogden is presenting a special tribute edition of "The Organist Entertains" on Tuesday 27th June at 20.00 on BBC Radio 2, featuring recordings of Bill from across his career. We also have advance news of a concert performance of the Faure Requiem to be given in Lancing College, Sussex on May 12th 2007, and dedicated to his memory. This concert will be under the direction of Neil Jenkins, and Bill's son-in-law Stephen Varcoe will be the baritone soloist. More details on tickets available nearer the time.

Alison Davies

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

 

Do not hesitate in stooping to listening to the "The Organist Entertains" with Nigel Ogden this week, which can still be heard on the "listen again" list.

 

The programme is all about Bill Davies, with archive material supplied by the Davies family; at least in part.

 

As an essay in musical versatility it is remarkable enough, but if someone asked me if it were possible to transcribe the Litolf "Scherzo" to organ, I would have replied that such would be almost impossible.

 

Well it can be.....and how!

 

MM

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  • 9 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...

I was very sorry to hear of the death of Bill.

I first met him as a fresh-faced young teenager when he came to Southampton Guildhall. He was one of the VERY FEW organists which REALLY knew their way around it.

His performance of the Littolf was a legend!

 

May he rest in peace.

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