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
  • Get to the point
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: HR Manager

£36000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, - 1 Year contract

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, Stock...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Human Resource Officer and Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'