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Gervase de Peyer (Clarinet)
Born: 11th April 1926, London, England
Died: 4th February 2017, England
De Peyer was born in London on 11th April 1926 and educated at Bedales and the Royal College of Music, followed by studies in Paris with the great French clarinettist and composer Louis Cahuzac. Shortly after graduation he formed The Melos Ensemble with the viola-player Cecil Aronowitz, flautist Richard Adeney and cellist Terence Weil; the group’s notable achievements would include the premieres of Britten’s War Requiem, Birtwistle’s Tragoedia and Five Pieces, and Peter Maxwell Davies’s Seven In Nomine, as well as much-praised recordings of core repertoire for medium-sized chamber ensemble such as Ravel’s Introduction & Allegro, Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire, and the Schubert Octet.
As a soloist, De Peyer did much to expand recital and concerto repertoire for his instrument, inspiring new works from composers including Alun Hoddinott, Miklós Rózsa, Thea Musgrave and Arnold Cooke; he was also a great advocate of early twentieth-century French repertoire, including the Poulenc Clarinet Sonata and Debussy’s Première rapsodie.
Alongside his extensive solo and chamber work, De Peyer maintained a long-term orchestral career, occupying the principal clarinet chair at the London Symphony Orchestra from 1956-73. He also enjoyed a successful parallel career as a conductor, working on a regular basis with the LSO, English Chamber Opera and the Melos Sinfonia, and was a dedicated and much-loved teacher (he was on the staff of the Royal Academy of Music from 1959, and continued to travel widely for masterclasses and workshops until well into his 80s).
Further Reading: Gervase de Peyer
The British clarinettist has died aged 90.