It’s wonderful to see you all here. Some of you I’m meeting today for the first time but have often heard my father speak of with great affection, and unfortunately it sometimes takes momentous and sad events to bring people together. There are also people here of whom I have memories that go back almost as far as my earliest memories of my father, and who I’ve come to think of as family. After my father passed away, I found somewhat to my surprise that I was very grateful for Facebook. My father often said that he found using it very annoying, but for me it was a great comfort to see all the tributes, not only from close friends and colleagues, but also from students, some of whom he had not seen in many years, but with whom he had been able to share his knowledge and passion for music, and on whom he had clearly left an indelible impression.
Growing up, I feel that I received a generous multiple of the normal amount of paternal love and attention. At all times, no matter how busy he was with work, he was prepared to help me with any practical matter or problem I had, however small, or indeed just to spend hours goofing around. I too of course received the benefit of his skills as a teacher, and by the age of eight had become, thanks to him, quite proficient in music theory. Unfortunately he did not succeed in steering my musical tastes quite in the direction he would have liked, and over the next few years looked on in dismay as I proceeded to become interested in all of his least favourite composers. Wagner, Bruckner, Mahler, Shostakovich, with each one I made yet another of his worst nightmares a reality. In spite of this, I had heard so much during my early childhood of composers such as Harry Partch, Steve Reich, Morton Feldman and others whose music he championed, that I had absorbed their language without being fully aware of it, and many of their pieces are now among my favourites. I will always be grateful to my father for having given me such a broad musical horizon.
Later, when I joined the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, I had to provide a short biography for the website. In one passage I listed the handful of living composers whose music I had actually performed, and prefaced it by saying that I took a “keen interest in contemporary music”, which my father found hilarious. To add to that, the version originally on the website contained a typo, so that it said “a keen interested in contemporary music”, which made it even funnier. I left it like that for some time, partly because I kept forgetting to correct it, but also so that my father could continue to derive enjoyment from the mistake.
When we learned that my father was ill, my first reaction was perhaps a rather selfish one: I was so used to relying on him, to thinking of him as someone who would always be there, that at first I simply couldn’t imagine how I would be able to continue without him. However I soon reflected that I had already received more than a lifetime of love compressed into the relatively short time he had been on earth, and over the next two years I was fortunately able to visit often, and to give something back by helping in my small way to look after him. He continued to work and travel throughout his period of illness, and while I sometimes felt that he was unwise to overexert himself as he did, I also knew that to slow down would be unnatural to him, and that it was more important for him to be true to himself. It is a great joy for me that his life ended at a high point professionally, and that he lived to see his biography of Claude Vivier, which had been more than a decade in the making, published to such great acclaim. While there were innumerable other things he had hoped to do in the future, he was able to leave the earth without feeling that he had left anything unfinished. Although his time was cut tragically short, we can look back in admiration on the way he occupied it, and will cherish our memories of him forever.