Obituary: R. B. Beare

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The Independent Online
R. B. BEARE was a third generation in the family firm of violin dealers. The original firm of Beare, Goodwin - the first ever wholesaler of musical instruments in Britain - was established by his grandfather John Beare in Brewer Street, London, in 1865, selling musical instruments from Jew's-harps at six shillings per gross to symphonions at pounds 36 each (extra tunes, five shillings). Violins could be had for 12 shillings a piece. They also published music and one of the first composers on their list was the young, and completely unknown, Edward Elgar.

The firm later became Beare & Son, specialising in instruments of the violin family and managed by John Beare's younger son, Walter. In 1892 John Beare opened a retail shop in Wardour Street, J. & A. Beare, for his elder son, Arthur, and as such it became one of the best-known international violin dealers.

Richard Barrington Beare, Walter's younger son, entered the business in 1931 and, after war service (four years in the Royal Army Service Corps in North Africa), served as managing director until his retirement in 1978. Under his direction Beare & Son enlarged its sources of supply, not only acquiring stock from traditional centres such as Mirecourt in France and Mittenwald in Germany, but also initiating imports from makers in Czechoslovakia and Romania. He was particularly concerned to find affordable instruments for music students.

J. & A. Beare is now under the direction of his cousin Charles Beare, a leading authority on the valuation of stringed instruments world-wide.

"Dick" Beare was born in Surbiton in 1908, the younger son of Walter Beare and Constance Wodehouse - one of the Kimberley Wodehouses and a distant cousin of the novelist P.G. Wodehouse. He was educated at Charterhouse where, in his last two years, he was a member of the school's football and cricket XIs. Going on to Jesus College, Cambridge, he won a football Blue in 1929 and a golf Blue in 1930 - in the same team as Henry Longhurst. It was said that he could easily have won a third for cricket, had he stayed up another year.

Over the years he played regularly with the Corinthian Casuals and won numerous golf trophies including the Ogilvie Shield, in 1928 and 1929, the Neale Cup (1929) and the Frigate (1930) at Thorpeness Golf Club, and the much-coveted Harry Vardon Cup at West Herts Golf Club in 1928. He was also Suffolk County Champion in 1946. (Had he followed his instincts he could have become a successful professional golfer - he was a scratch player at 16.)

In 1947 he married the musical journalist, and future biographer of Arnold Dolmetsch, Margaret Campbell. They shared many interests including the theatre, concert-going and foreign travel.

Dick Beare was cheerful, equable in temperament and possessed great personal charm. He was physically fit and was still playing golf until well into his eighties and thought nothing of walking five or six miles a day "just to keep in trim".

Richard Barrington Beare, violin dealer: born Surbiton, Surrey 20 July 1908; married 1947 Margaret Campbell (two sons, one daughter); died Wendover, Buckinghamshire 18 April 1998.

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