Obituary: Christopher Grier

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The Independent Online
Christopher Grier was the perfect gentleman among music critics. He would appear at events elegantly dressed, soft-spoken, gently smiling, unobtrusive yet paradoxically a character. His views, moderate, well-coordinated, sane, tended to second the impression made by his presence. With his pronounced Scottish burr and grace of manner, he was congenial, uncontroversial company, though never anodyne.

He was born in 1922, the son of the Provost of Perth Cathedral, who sent him to Switzerland as a child to instil in him a love of outdoor activities, which remained all his life. After a period at Trinity College, Glenalmond, he won a scholarship to King's College, Cambridge, but his studies were interrupted by the Second World War, which he spent with the Black Watch in Senegal. He returned to Cambridge after the war to study piano and the organ, gaining a First.

In 1947 he was invited by the British Council to make a report on Scandinavian music before joining the Scotsman in 1949 as principal music critic. He found his metier writing sensible, lengthy reviews of local music, in particular covering the Edinburgh Festival, then in its infancy. He entertained, with his new wife, Elisabeth, at their New Town flat, the great and good of the music world. Working under sympathetic editors, he was able to write as he wished. He was also encouraged to go abroad and report on European festivals, which he did with zest.

In 1963 he moved to London, to the Evening Standard, where he wrote with his customary fluency and even-handed judgement, a style that fared well until the move against elitism in the 1980s made his methods seem outdated. At the same time he kept contact with Scotland by helping his successor at the Scotsman, Conrad Wilson, to cover the many, varied events at the Edinburgh Festival.

He contributed well-researched programme notes, especially where French music, his particular love, was concerned, and acute book reviews. In the late 1960s, he had a two-year spell presenting the popular Radio 4 series These You Have Loved, which he did with urbane wit and authority, increasing the audience for the programme. From 1972 to 1974 he was a professor of music at the Royal College of Music in London and from 1963 a lecturer at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

In 1990 he left the Standard and retired, taking up residence with the Noble Brothers of Poverty at St Cross Hospital in Winchester. In earlier days, by contrast, he had carried on a second career modelling for upmarket magazines and brochures, a tall, handsome epitome of the mature man.

Hugh Christopher Grier, music critic: born Derby 4 December 1922; married 1950 Elisabeth Martin (one son, and one son deceased); died Winchester 7 May 1997.