Obituary: David Gow

Click to follow
I MET David Gow when my wife Penelope Price Jones and I moved to Wiltshire in 1975, and were immediately drawn into his active role as teacher at the College in Swindon and as composer, writes Philip Martin (further to the obituary by Graham Melville-Mason, 1 March).

During the next 10 years or so he wrote many works for us, the song cycles A Star Shall Arise and A Woman Young and Old, several large-scale piano works and a piano concerto. At the premiere of the piano concerto with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Charles Groves, a member of the audience was heard to comment at the end 'Where's Prokofiev a'noo]' This remark tickled David's sense of humour no end, but had more than a grain of truth to it, showing his talent for a rousing melody allied with astringent and erudite form and harmony.

He was a most knowledgeable musician with an ability to communicate, whether to a group of A-level students or as a lecturer. We gave several recitals where he spoke about the way his work had evolved followed by a performance. Whether this was describing the way he allowed the 'Age of Gold' theme to emerge through a 12-tone structure in his 'Variations on a Theme of Roberto Gerhard', or the influence of Bartok's music on his first Sonata, I was always fascinated by his ability to explain his work.

He was most interested in particular performers, investigating their individual strengths, and pouring works out before turning to another field. Parallel with this was the ability to write for whatever weird combination of instruments his student group produced, simplifying his style to their level and thus giving them an invaluable experience of working on a piece in progress.