Obituary: Allen Percival

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Allen Dain Percival, director of music, music-editor, publisher, writer, born Bradford West Yorkshire 23 April 1925, Music Officer of British Council in France 1948-50, music master Haileybury and Imperial Service College 1950-51, Director of Music Homerton College Cambridge 1951-62, Director of Musical Studies Guildhall School of Music 1962-65, Principal Guildhall School of Music and Drama 1965- 78, CBE 1975, Executive Chairman Stainer & Bell publishers 1978-92, Gresham Professor of Music City University 1980-85, Director Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts 1987-89, books include The Orchestra 1956, The Teach Yourself History of Music 1961, Galliard Book of Carols 1980, English Love Songs 1980, married 1952 Rachel Hay (died 1987), 1990 Margaret Pickett (one stepson, one stepdaughter), died London 19 September 1992.

ALLEN PERCIVAL was trained in the art of music-editing by his friend Thurston Dart and readily accepted his exacting standards of excellence, writes Bernard Braley.

Percival's love of and impeccable use of the English language was apparent not only in all he prepared for the press but in the simplest business letter. Since 1962, he had served Stainer & Bell as a director: his 12 years as executive chairman revealed the full diversity of his talents. He had a shrewd business-sense and a high ethical code: his guiding motive was to serve music, musicians and music-lovers whatever their tastes. He believed it was possible to crowd 48 hours' work into 24; his failure always to achieve this played havoc with some production deadlines. His key role in the acquisition of the Joseph Williams, Augener and Galliard catalogues in 1972 ensured Stainer & Bell's future as an independent publishing house.

Among Percival's last tasks was marking up for the engraver the 60th volume of Musica Britannica, the celebrated historical collection of British music begun in 1951. He brought the same dedication to all of the firm's scholarly series. His love of English solo song ensured the publication of single-composer anthologies covering four centuries. His experience in music education led him to commission several books in this field: he was a discerning critic of draft manuscripts and a patient but persuasive counsellor if he felt the work could be improved. He combined his interest in music drama and history in the co-authorship, with his first wife Rachel, of The Court of Elizabeth I (1976). His Methodist roots are remembered in his co-editorship of the hymnbook Partners in Praise (1979).

Above all, Allen Percival will be remembered by his colleagues for the strong kindness which pervaded all his relationships.

(Photograph omitted)