Tuesday 01 June, 2010

David Sanger
17 April 1947 - 28 May 2010

David Sanger's untimely passing robs the Whitlock Trust of a hugely respected and much-loved Vice - President. Few if any of the younger generation of professional British organists will have been uninfluenced by this musician of unique gifts. As recitalist, teacher, scholar and composer, David demanded the highest standards of himself. From his base in Cumbria - a refurbished Wesleyan Chapel into which David had invested huge care and attention, seeking to establish a "green" living extension to the original building housing the two manual Bevington tracker instrument David had played as a teenager and which he purchased when the church in south London closed - David travelled extensively. He visited Oxford and Cambridge regularly in university terms to teach organ scholars and played concerts widely throughout the UK and overseas.

His last recital was for me at Glenalmond College in April. An eclectic programme of his own Marche Européenne, together with music by J S Bach, Gardonyi, Schumann, Bingham and Vierne (with an encore by W H Harris) typified David's musical open-mindedness. He was a staunch and eloquent advocate of Percy's music (though interestingly, not so drawn towards Guilmant, as I discovered when discussing the possibility of an album - "rather second-rate" was the response).

David's kindness, gentleness and musical enthusiasm shone through. Taking pupils to his home for a study weekend was a delight (Myles Hartley is one who can testify how much was learnt in a short space of time). David's ability to draw on his manuscript source copies for reference (for years, he was a trailblazer in insisting on consulting original material to discover what a composer actually wrote, exposing shoddy editing in the process), his immaculate playing of seemingly any piece put before him, his wonderfully prepared cuisine and his sense of fun and mischief (what a chuckle!) will linger in my memory.

David did so much for the art of organ playing and for the repertoire of the instrument in his all-too-short life. How he will be missed, as musician and as friend - but how too his legacy will be treasured. It is good to know that the RCO is the beneficiary of his library, ensuring that David's work provides a firm foundation for the learning of generations to come.