Obituary: Sir Thomas Armstrong

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The Independent Online
MAY I add a footnote to Ursula Vaughan Williams's fine tribute to Sir Thomas Armstrong (obituary, 4 July), mainly to draw attention to his work as a cathedral organist? writes Harrison Oxley. This he regarded as his primary vocation for three-quarters of his career.

The sound of the boy's voices at Christ Church Cathedral was a unique one, fresh and brilliant and completely free of affectations; it was born of the joy and love he brought into their lives by making music with them day by day. (A similar joy and inspiration could be heard in the work of the Oxford Bach Choir and the Orchestral Society.)

He and Hester used to invite a different choirboy each week to Sunday breakfast in their home. I remember his glee in telling me how one of the boys had broken all records by downing no fewer than eight sausages.

As an organist he was perhaps the last in an honourable Victorian tradition. He was never more fulfilled than in rendering exquisitely on his beloved Harrison organ an orchestral accompaniment by Brahms or Mendelssohn. Sensitive also was his approach to the many undergraduates (including a distinguished succession of organ scholars) who were taught by him for degrees in music.