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Bruce Buchanan

Noël Rawsthorne

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I was so sorry to read this news, and after having had a chat with his successor,  Ian Tracey, I have some further information to share about Noel.

NOEL RAWSTHORNE (1929-2019)

Noel Rawsthorne passed away peacefully in the early hours of Monday 28th January, aged 89 years.

He was Organist of Liverpool Cathedral for twenty-five years from 1955-1980, thereafter being succeeded by his pupil and Assistant, Ian Tracey, the current post-holder, and being given the honorific title of Organist Emeritus. After study at the Royal Manchester College of Music (now The Royal Northern College of Music), he won scholarships to study with both Germani & Dupré. From 1980-1984 he was City Organist & Artistic Director at St. George's Hall, Liverpool, and travelled widely as a recitalist in U.K. Europe and USSR. In recognition of his many achievements, he was awarded a D.Mus from the University of Liverpool in 1994.

Chrissie & Chris Rawsthorne and Liz, his wife, have requested a very private cremation, followed by a great service of thanksgiving and celebration at the Cathedral on Sunday 3rd March at 3.00pm, to which all are invited.

Noel's ashes will then be interred under the North side of the organ, alongside those of Goss-Custard, his teacher and predecessor, during Evensong on Saturday 19th October, preceding the 93rd Anniversary Recital.

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On a personal note, I'd like to express my sincere condolences to Ian on this  loss of one his great mentors.  I have always enjoyed to hear Ian regaling his recital audiences with tales of Noel's adventures, and I know that he will be hugely missed.

  

 

 

 

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Yes, very sad.

The second organ LP I ever bought (back in the '60s) was Noel Rawsthorne playing at Liverpool Cathedral.

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For anyone interested the Facebook page of Liverpool Cathedral Choir has some photos. https://www.facebook.com/LiverpoolCathedralChoir

A neighbour who was having a clearout gave me a vinyl of NR playing the organ of Liverpool Cathedral. Sadly I don't think I have a turntable for listening to it but I am sure I still have the record somewhere. May he rest in peace.

Dave

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Along with my late friend and former Hull City Organist and Master of Choristers at what is now Hull Minster, Peter Goodman, I lunched about 20 years ago with Noel Rawsthorne and his wife outside the pub in the Cheshire village of Great Budworth. Much humour erupted at the dining table prior to Peter Goodman giving a recital in the parish church on a newly built digital organ by another friend, the late George Sixsmith. May Noel RIP.

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I first met Noel in 1969 when page turning for him in St Andrew’s Cathedral Aberdeen.

My personal memories over the following 50 years abound with his fabulous musicmaking,sparkling humour and practical administrative efficiency.

Memorable recitals from the Festival Hall to the tiniest village in remotest Scotland received the same detailed preparation - his cathedral service musical dimension matching the edifice perfectly.

Post recital entertaining to the faithful with “famous organist anecdotes” or “playing the matches” which he always won!

Skill displayed whether in his host’s kitchen or in his own garden or improving the running of his beloved cathedral.

A warm endearing person to meet.

A world class artist!

 

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A wonderful organist and composer now residing in a higher organ loft.

My fathers studies at Manchester overlapped  with  Noel and I remember my father commenting years later that his technique and ability  were " somewhat considerable " at that early stage.

He took my father to Liverpool so he  " could have a go "   and when he saw the console he said he nearly fainted!

The two of them met up many years later whilst my father was playing quite a lowly instrument in a small church but Noel gave a marvellous recital on this organ.  I think the " fee " was a crate of Guinness "!

IMHO his finest recording was with his colleague Terry Duffy of Solers concertos -     pure bliss and magic.

The 93rd Anniversary recital promises to be something else I think.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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At St George’s Hall Liverpool yesterday Ian Tracey concluded his lunchtime recital with two pieces by Noel Rawsthorne in tribute to his predecessor and in honour of his memory: Prelude on the Londonderry Air and Festal Fanfare on “Nun Danket alle Gott” (not absolutely certain that this is the correct official title).  The Liverpool audience were respectfully silent after the first, and there was tumultuous applause at the end.

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Noel Rawsthorne’s ashes are to be interred in the North Choir aisle at Liverpool Cathedral, alongside those of his predecessor Harry Goss-Custard, during Evensong on Saturday 19th October at 3.00 pm.

The service will be followed immediately by Ian Tracey giving the 93rd Anniversary organ recital, which includes two works by Noel Rawsthorne as well as his own tribute to him:

Felix Mendelssohn (arr. Goss-Custard):  Overture ‘The Hebrides’

Noel Rawsthorne (1929-2019):  Aria in E flat   

                                                         Phantasie “Wachet auf”

Ian Tracey:  Aria ‘In Memoriam Noel Rawsthorne’

Felix Mendelssohn (arr. Goss-Custard):  Scherzo from ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

Flor Peeters:  ‘Lied Symphony’ (Op. 66)

 
 

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Thanks, Rowland - I have never heard of those pieces by Noel.

Does anyone know who publishes these? If Kevin Mayhew, they are not listed there, unfortunately.

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Is this the one when he re-counted the story of the recital and the silent Russian organ, when he had to go grovelling around the basement, only to find the caretaker drunk on the floor with the organ blower keys in his pocket?

MM

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There was (possibly still is) an Aria by Rawsthorne published by Mayhew, but I don’t have a copy so not sure if it’s the same piece. Have never come across the Wachet Auf piece though. 

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On 01/07/2019 at 10:03, Martin Cooke said:

Thanks, Rowland - I have never heard of those pieces by Noel.

Does anyone know who publishes these? If Kevin Mayhew, they are not listed there, unfortunately.

I’m sorry I haven’t followed up your enquiry, and will now do so.  

46 minutes ago, David Surtees said:

There was (possibly still is) an Aria by Rawsthorne published by Mayhew, but I don’t have a copy so not sure if it’s the same piece. Have never come across the Wachet Auf piece though. 

As mentioned earlier (post 20th March), Ian Tracey played the “Wachet Auf” Phantasie at St George’s Hall on 19th March.

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2 hours ago, David Surtees said:

There was (possibly still is) an Aria by Rawsthorne published by Mayhew, but I don’t have a copy so not sure if it’s the same piece. Have never come across the Wachet Auf piece though. 

If my memory serves me correctly, there is an Aria by Rawsthorne in this volume:

https://www.kevinmayhew.com/148-interludes.html

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6 hours ago, Zimbelstern said:

If my memory serves me correctly, there is an Aria by Rawsthorne in this volume:

https://www.kevinmayhew.com/148-interludes.html

I suppose you don't remember which key it's in, by any chance, Z? There is a well known one in F major, which I have - (it's in a volume called 'Organ Music by NR' or something like that) - but I have never seen one by NR in E flat. This slightly highlights one of the difficulties with Mayhew publications - and OUP, actually - that the same piece is published in several different volumes and you don't know if you will be doubling up.

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Ian Tracey has very kindly provided these further details:

The Aria in Eb is the same piece as the Aria (in F) (Pub. Mayhew) but latterly, Noel reflected that it was better and far richer in Eb (if a little more tricky) and always played it in that key. He made a version (unpublished) ... about 5 years before he passed; and it is that version which I played at his funeral service, and will play at the Anniversary.”


The 'Wachet Auf' Phantaisie’ is something Noel wrote me to play at the 79th Anniversary Recital, way back in 2005. It was my 25th Anniversary as Organist and the 50th since his own appointment. I don't think it was ever published, but I do know that Gordon Stewart was given a copy and recorded it at Huddersfield, so there is a second copy in existence.”

“In terms of my 'Aria for NR' - it is in a publication called "Liverpool Lollipops"  (Pub. Church Organ World) all by organists of the cathedral and in which we all dedicated pieces to one another... mine was to my "Mentor and Friend Noel Rawsthorne" but has now become an "In Memoriam" and will be so on the reprint, when it comes.”

The Anniversary recital and Evensong preceding it, during which Noel Rawsthorne’s cremated remains are to be interred, will be a very special occasion.  Liverpool Cathedral, Saturday 19th October at 3.00 pm.

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That's great, Rowland - thank you so much, and, thanks, too, of course to Dr Tracey. The Wachet Auf story is very much akin to that of the Fanfare he wrote for Gordon Stewart to play at the 'opening' of the new chamade stop (Trompette de Maris) at Portsmouth Cathedral - NR didn't wish it to be published. And I have a copy of IT's Aria (in E flat) which is a lovely miniature. Thanks again. Martin.

 

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I thought that his “Wachet auf” had echoes of Reger, but on looking back at my notes made at the time, Reger isn’t mentioned!  Ian Tracey certainly used a powerful solo reed (but not, I think, the tuba magna) at St George’s Hall on 19th March.  

These are the five movements: i.  Introduction;   iiTrio with melody in the Tenor;   iiiAria with melody in the Soprano;   iv. Pedal solo;  vIntroduction, pedal cadenza and free fantasia.

I heard the Portsmouth Cathedral Trompette de Maris in an impromptu encore from David Price after the official voluntary at a friend’s memorial service - an astonishingly brilliant sound, and very effective in that relatively small cathedral.

 

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A reminder that Noel Rawsthorne’s ashes are to be interred in the North Choir aisle at Liverpool Cathedral, alongside those of his predecessor Harry Goss-Custard, during Evensong tomorrow, Saturday 19th October at 3.00 pm.

The service will be followed immediately by Ian Tracey giving the 93rd Anniversary organ recital.  This is the programme:

Felix Mendelssohn (arr. Goss-Custard):  Overture ‘The Hebrides’

Noel Rawsthorne (1929-2019):  Aria in E flat   

                                                         Phantasie “Wachet auf”  

          i.  Introduction             ii. Trio with melody in the Tenor             iii. Aria with melody in the Soprano

                                     iv. Pedal solo          v. Introduction, pedal cadenza and free fantasia

Ian Tracey:  Aria ‘In Memoriam Noel Rawsthorne’

Felix Mendelssohn (arr. Goss-Custard):  Scherzo from ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

Flor Peeters:  ‘Lied Symphony’ (Op. 66) 

                                     Lied to the Ocean         Lied to the Desert           Lied to the Flowers

                                              Lied to the Mountains           Lied to the Sun

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