Obituary: Peter le Huray

Peter le Huray, musicologist, born London 1930, married 1965 Bridget Payne (one son, one daughter), died Cambridge 7 October 1992.

PETER LE HURAY was a musician and scholar whose remarkable range and versatility was belied by his absolute unassumingness.

But his innate modesty did not preclude a fierce intransigence when music and musicianship were concerned. Le Huray did not think well of anyone who left a chapel service before the concluding voluntary had reached its end; and when it was customary for the fellows of his college to attend concerts en masse and gowned, occupying the front rows, he did not hesitate to stand up and publicly berate them for applauding a performance which they had correctly assumed to be inspired, but of which they had evidently failed to identify the stimulant.

Peter le Huray was born in south London in 1930, of a Guernsey family; and from 1948, when he was awarded an organ scholarship at St Catharine's, Cambridge, his life was intimately bound up with that of the college. He took a double first in the Music Tripos and was awarded the Barclay Squire prize for his Mus B. His Ph D on the English Anthem, 1580-1640, was supervised by the renowned performer and musicologist Thurston Dart, and after Dart's stormy departure from Cambridge in 1964 he quietly kept Dart's principles alive, but not his flamboyance. He was responsible, in the face of the faculty's indifference (and sometimes hostility), for inviting Gustav Leonhardt and the Kuijken brothers to give masterclasses, and for acquiring original instruments which made 'performance practice' more than a merely nominalistic enterprise. He published Music and the Reformation in England in 1967, a book which remains standard, and has its complement in his extensive editorial work on the standard repertoire of post-Henrican English church music, but was not an obvious preparative for his Musica Britannica volume of the anthems and motets of Matthew Locke, in itself a major work.

As if this was not enough, le Huray took St Catharine's from being a place of no musical repute, into the first rank of musical colleges, with a choir sought after in Europe and the US, a rebuilt organ and a flourishing annual crop of musicians.

Together with John Stevens he played a vital part in making the Cambridge University Press a major publisher of books on music. His own anthology, Music and Aesthetics in the Eighteenth and Early-Nineteenth Centuries (1981), compiled and annotated in conjunction with James Day, was a model for a now well-established series and a leap into a world beyond that with which le Huray was normally associated. The same might equally have been said of his recording of the complete Liszt organ works, a reminder that, as a young man, he had played at the Proms and that some had felt he had been wrong to abandon a career as a performer for the sake of scholarship.

His pupils would not have agreed, though a handful might have appreciated a firmer shove towards practice rather than theory. He was, at any level, an enormously attentive teacher. He established performance practice as a part of the Cambridge curriculum, and wrote its first textbooks. He was never a tutor, but he kept a gentle tutorial eye on everyone he had taught. At Christmas the le Hurays had an uncanny knack of discovering those musicians who were on their own in Cambridge.

Friendship was as much part of Peter le Huray's role as his loyalty to his college and, despite frequent offers from elsewhere, to Cambridge, as his devotion to scholarship and his, however understated, musicianly flair.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Have you been doing a brilliant job in an admi...

Surrey County Council: Senior Project Officer (Fixed Term to Feb 2019)

£26,498 - £31,556: Surrey County Council: We are looking for an outgoing, conf...

Recruitment Genius: Interim Head of HR

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an innovative, senior H...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources and Payroll Administrator

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client, a very well respect...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot