Eric Roseberry

By Shenton, Kenneth | The Independent (London, England), March 9, 2012 | Go to article overview
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Eric Roseberry

Shenton, Kenneth, The Independent (London, England)

Scholar of Britten and Shostakovich

Eric Roseberry enriched the world of music in a variety of ways. He was a lecturer, writer, scholar, organist, broadcaster, teacher, pianist, conductor, editor and enthusiast, the sheer breadth of his intellect making him an inspirational guide for generations of aspiring musicians.

Evacuated to Yorkshire from his native North-east during the Second World War, Roseberry was educated at Pocklington School before, in 1948, reading Music at the University of Durham. Following National Service in the Royal Air Force, his teaching career began in 1953 at Stand Grammar School for Boys in Whitefield, Manchester. Five years later he moved to Huntingdonshire as County Music Organiser.

Between 1964 and 1969, generally planning and producing orchestral programmes for the BBC's music division, he worked in London as a Music Assistant. In 1969 he was appointed Radcliffe Lecturer in Music at the University of Sussex. His brief, placing contemporary ideas firmly at its heart, was to design and launch a brand new and progressive degree course in music.

Much of what he taught he practised in his own compositions. A fastidious though never prolific composer, his instrumental and choral works are all cleverly and precisely imagined, their structures handled with fluency and care. First published in 1969, The Faber Book of Carols and Christmas Songs brings together the many disparate elements in his technique, all handled with the skill of a master craftsman

Erudite and persuasive, Roseberry also proved to be a fine writer. Having cut his literary teeth writing programme notes for BBC orchestral concerts, over the years he contributed a wealth of scholarly articles to a wide range of periodicals including Music and Musicians, The Musical Times, The Listener, Music and Letters, The Musical Quarterly and Tempo. Likewise, his sleeve notes, literate, elegant and stylish, increasingly graced the catalogues of all the major record companies.

Remaining models of clarity are two early studies of composers, Mozart and Beethoven. Published by Boosey and Hawkes in 1960, these both formed part of their Great Masters series. In 1976, as the centrepiece of a symposium on German music, his extended essay on Schoenberg and Hindemith undoubtedly added further lustre to an already burgeoning reputation.

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