Nigel Fortune: Highly respected musicologist and co-editor of the journal 'Music and Letters'

Nigel Fortune was one of the most authoritative musicologists and editors of his generation but, as a very modest man, he would have dismissed such a claim. Most of his life revolved round Birmingham, where he lived in the same house from the age of 10.

His connection with the University was crucial. He read Music and Italian there before going on to Cambridge where his PhD on 17th-century Italian monody was supervised by Thurston Dart, the influential scholar and performer at the start of the early music revival who became King Edward Professor at King's College, London. After leaving Cambridge, Fortune spent three years as Music Librarian at Senate House, University of London, before returning to Birmingham as a lecturer in the music department in 1959.

His career was notable for an unusually generous kind of collaborative work. With Denis Arnold, who became Heather Professor at Oxford, he edited and contributed to The Monteverdi Companion (1968, enlarged and reissued as The New Monteverdi Companion, 1985) and The Beethoven Companion (1971); with others he was a guiding spirit behind festschrifts honouring Sir Jack Westrup, Thurston Dart and Winton Dean. He also collaborated with Anthony Lewis, Professor at Birmingham for much of Fortune's time there, in book chapters as well as four volumes of The Works of Henry Purcell, which played a significant role in establishing the position of the major English composer. With Thurston Dart, Fortune edited John Dowland's Ayres for Four Voices (1953-63).

Fortune was a valued member of several important editorial committees including the Purcell Society, Musica Britannica and that of The New Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1980). He was secretary of the Royal Musical Association from 1957-71 and then became a vice-president. From 1980 to 2008 he was co-editor of the influential journal Music and Letters. Edward Olleson has aptly described him as "an unchanging pillar in [the journal's] architecture while co-editors have revolved round him... the perfect choice and an ideal working partner" and summed up Fortune's dedication to the journal as "a period of outstanding and selfless contribution not only to Music and Letters but also to musical scholarship at large". Anyone who has submitted copy to the journal can confirm that he brought the highest standards to his dealings with written English. Being edited by him was invariably instructive since nothing sloppy was ever allowed to pass into print.

But citing Fortune's punctilious professional activities is very far from accounting for his whole personality. He was remarkably loyal to his students, maintaining an interest in their careers long after they had graduated. And about his friends and colleagues with Birmingham connections he was a mine of information, all recalled with the precision he brought to his scholarly concerns. Fortune's enthusiasms stretched far beyond the periods of his own musicological expertise. He went to concerts; was a supporter of the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group; and a regular visitor to festivals such as Aldeburgh and Presteigne. Overall he was remarkably well-informed and that included the latest developments in 20th-century music.

Further, Fortune was a committed citizen who played a part in local affairs. As it happened Clare Short, the MP for Birmingham Handsworth, moved into the house next door in 1997: they were already friends and he sometimes assisted her in her constituency surgeries. He always enjoyed news about his wide circle of acquaintances and appreciated those who kept in touch. He faced his final illnesses with exemplary fortitude that endeared him to all those who were caring for him.

Peter Dickinson

Nigel Cameron Fortune, musicologist: born Birmingham 5 December 1924; lecturer, Birmingham University 1959-69, reader 1969-85; died Birmingham 10 April 2009.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
News
i100
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Arts and Entertainment
L to R: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers Assemble
film
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
News
i100
News
Caplan says of Jacobs: 'She is a very collaborative director, and gives actors a lot of freedom. She makes things happen.'
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015