Obituary: David Cox

Anyone who has ever tuned in to hear the news on the BBC World Service over the past 30 years will have become familiar with the lively, foot-tapping arrangement of "Lillibulero" which has so reassuringly introduced the programme on the hour. Its arranger was David Cox, for many years a gentle and most popular figure in the corridors of the BBC.

All his life a man of Kent, he was born in Broadstairs and except for his early years, when the family lived in Australia, and a short time in London after the death of his first wife, he was devoted to his homes first in Dunton Green, then Magpie Bottom and latterly at Pratt's Bottom, all in the Orpington and Sevenoaks area. On returning to England from Australia in 1935 he entered the Royal College of Music, where his composition teachers were Ralph Vaughan Williams and Herbert Howells, with another composer, Arthur Benjamin, for piano, from 1937 to 1939. At the same time he was an organ scholar at Worcester College, Oxford, until 1940, serving also as assistant organist at Christ Church Cathedral. His war service was with the RAF from 1941 to 1945, when he also played the clarinet in the RAF Band.

After the war Cox joined the BBC, where he was to remain until his retirement in 1976. His first appointment was as a music producer and with the World Service, where he started with the Latin American services. From there he went to the Third Programme before returning to Bush House in l956 to become music organiser for the overseas services for the rest of his career.

On his retirement his association with the BBC continued until 1989 as a valuable member of the Audition Panel, listening anonymously to would-be young broadcasters, as well as being a member of the larger group of prestigious musicians who gave their time as members of the outside Listening Panel, independently reporting on the standards of first broadcasts of artists. Both of these tasks he took very seriously and reported with perception and fairness.

The music of Peter Warlock was particularly dear to David Cox and gives a clue to his own compositional style. This is heard to its best in his Three Songs from John Donne of 1959 and the Five Songs after John Milton of 1975. In addition to his arrangements and signature tunes, his best known orchestral work is the overture London Calling which he wrote for the 50th anniversary celebrations of the BBC External Sorvices and first performed in 1982, in which he incorporated not only "Lillibulero" but other themes associated with the service.

Choral works also feature in his output, many of them festival commissions. Among these are the Cantata of Beasts (1957), Songs of Earth and Air, on texts of Dryden (1960) and A Greek Cantata (1967). In 1969 his one opera, The Children in the Forest, used his own libretto adapted from the Arthur Ransome story and was written for the Cookham Festival. A number of attractive piano works and music for recorder and piano make up his principal instrumental works.

The Henry Wood Proms (1980) and Debussy Orchestral Music (1974) will remain his main books but his contributions to the study of the music of Warlock should not be forgotten, notably in Peter Warlock: a centenary celebration (1994) which he compiled and edited with John Bishop. He was a regular contributor to musical periodicals and wrote a number of articles for the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1980).

His particular musical interests were for English music of the 20th century, with French music coming a close second. After his retirement he considered writing a philosophical study on the essence and meaning of music but this never progressed beyond long and fascinating discussions on the topic with his musical friends and colleagues. He also wrote a novel, based in Yugoslavia, which remains unpublished.

David Cox was a good friend in the best sense of the term. His quiet, sincere manner and occasional hesitancy in conversation concealed a sharp, searching and perceptive mind. A fine linguist and fascinating conversationalist, his gently dry humour matched a remarkable patience occasionally disturbed only by some of the more extremes of modern music or the later trends in music broadcasting.

David Vassall Cox, composer: born Broadstairs, Kent 4 February 1916; married 1954 Barbara Butche r (died 1982; one son, two daughters), 1992 Sybil Bell; died Pratt's Bottom 31 January 1997.

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates one of his goals during the FIFA World Cup 2014 round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
News
news
News
i100
Travel
Fair trade: the idea of honesty boxes relies on people paying their way
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
News
people
Sport
Antoine Griezmann has started two of France’s four games so far
sport
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary