Frederick Riddle

Frederick Riddle was one of the most eminent viola players of his time.

Riddle and his older contemporary William Primrose were of the generation of British violists inspired by the example of the brilliant Lionel Tertis. Primrose, who had an even bigger and more voluptuous tonal range on the viola than Riddle, migrated early in his career to the United States, where he won international fame. Both players scaled great musical heights, with their flawless technical certainty, perfect intonation, bravura fingering and bowing control, on an instrument which is physiologically awkward to master - demanding uncommonly long arms and a powerful neck.

Having first studied at the Royal College of Music, in London, Riddle later taught his instrument there and also at Trinity College of Music. He played in the London Symphony Orchestra from 1933 to 1938 and the London Philharmonic Orchestra from 1938 to 1953, and succeeded Harry Danks as principal violist in the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under Thomas Beecham in 1953.

As a soloist Riddle won renown as a droll Sancho Panza in Richard Strauss's Don Quixote, as a convinced exponent of Vaughan Williams's sumptuous Flos Campi (an eloquent recording, coupled with Vaughan Williams's Viola Suite, was recently re-issued on CD), and in two other important repertory works. Riddle's passionate performance in the first recording of Walton's Viola Concerto (1937, for which Tertis recommended him), with the composer conducting, will burnish his fame for future generations, differing as it does from the recordings by Primrose and by Yehudi Menuhin.

Another of Riddle's recordings to cherish is his performance in Berlioz's Harold in Italy, a marvellous rendering, the soloist incandescent, with Hermann Scherchen conducting the London Philharmonic. Riddle gave four performances of Harold in Italy under Beecham (in 1953 and 1956), one at least of which was recorded and a pirate LP issued in the US. Beecham again invited Riddle to be soloist in Walton's concerto in May 1956, at the Festival Hall. An eager exponent of contemporary music, Riddle joined Beecham in Rubbra's Viola Concerto at the Festival Hall, in 1954, and premiered Giorgio Ghedini's concerto (1953), also with Beecham.

Riddle was good-natured, a genial colleague, a sympathetic teacher. His passionate musicality was twinned with deep cultural awareness. He had a personal warmth of manner which never infringed stylistic good taste and the highest musical standards.

Alan Denson

Frederick Craig Riddle, viola player: born Liverpool 20 April 1912; OBE 1980; married 1936 Audrey Langford (died 1994; marriage dissolved), 1946 Helen Clare (three daughters); died Newport, Isle of Wight 5 February 1995.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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 People

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the world's leading suppliers and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Multiple Apprentices Required

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...

Sauce Recruitment: HR Manager

£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...

Ashdown Group: Interim HR Manager - 3 Month FTC - Henley-on-Thames

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links