Magazine article Musical Times

IN MEMORIAM: Felix Aprahamian

Magazine article Musical Times

IN MEMORIAM: Felix Aprahamian

Article excerpt

To describe Felix Aprahamian as a 'music critic' seems a woefully inadequate description of a writer, concert promoter, publisher's adviser, supporter of young musicians, and friend to some of the last century's greatest musicians [writes Nigel Simeone]. He was an urbane and warm-hearted man, aptly described by John Amis (The Guardian, 21 January 2005) as 'a mixture of characters from Proust and P. G. Wodehouse'.

At the age of 17 he became Assistant secretary to the Organ Music Society, and he developed into an excellent (largely selftaught) keyboard player. His father took him to France in 1933 to visit Delius in Grezsur-Loing, and in Paris he met Widor. In 1935 he was made secretary of the OMS, and the same year his first article, 'Eugene Goossens in London', was published in the MT. During World War II he worked as Concert Director of the LPO and from 1942 onwards helped Tony Mayer organise the Concerts de Musique Française. In 1946 he joined United Music Publishers as a consultant and, with Mayer at the French Embassy, played a central role in bringing French music to post-war British audiences. In 1948 he became Deputy Music Critic of the Sunday Times and stayed for 41 years; his reviews were notable for their elegant prose and genuine enthusiasm.

He first corresponded with Messiaen in the 1930s. They developed a warm friendship which lasted until the composer's death. My own first sighting of Felix was at the Free Trade Hall in 1974 for the Trois petites Liturgies: Messiaen's delighted cry of 'Ah - Félix!' alerted me to the arrival of his friend. Afterwards Messiaen signed autographs for dozens of students (myself included), before writing a magnificent inscription in Felix's copy of the Liturgies.

Felix met Poulenc before the war; their first encounter was at J. & W. Chester's, when he asked the composer to sign a photograph, duly inscribed 'Qui est ce monstre?'. The two became firm friends and Felix often visited Poulenc in Paris. His talent for making friends such as these led to many memorable events at Felix's house in Muswell Hill. Poulenc first played through his Elégie in memory of Dennis Brain there, and in 1945 Messiaen and Yvonne Loriod gave a private rendition of Visions de l'Amen. …

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