Obituary:Terence Beckles

In his 50-year career as a stylish pianist, Terence Beckles suffered perhaps more than his full share of pre-concert nerves - "Help! I can't find middle C"; and he allotted much of his time to teaching. He took on posts at the Guildhall School of Music, in London, and at Dulwich College and for over 40 years gave generations of pupils the benefit of his musical insights, technical know-how, whimsy, wit, kindness, encouragement, style, good manners and enthusiasm for life.

Beckles never neglected his own playing during this period - it remained complementary to his teaching - but in 1975 his public career gained new momentum when his friend Phyllis Sellick invited him to form a piano duo with her. Appropriately one of their first joint recitals was a splendid affair at Dulwich Picture Gallery, where the Friends of the Gallery had just started a series of concerts and lectures.

From early boyhood Beckles had shown outstanding talent as a pianist. He studied at the Royal Academy of Music with Harold Craxton and later with the illustrious Friedrich Whrer in Germany and entered the concert world equipped with a fine technique and a deep seriousness of purpose.

But his career had only just got under way when the Second World War started and Beckles found himself a gunner in an army establishment in Essex. Despite the noise of the guns he managed to give many recitals, where he impressed wartime audiences with the brilliance and poetry of his playing.

After more than five years in the Army he resumed his professional work and gave many broadcasts (Music at Night, and live early morning broadcasts on the BBC Third Programme), solo recitals and concerto performances, including a performance of Beethoven's First Piano Concerto, at the Festival Hall, conducted by Royalton Kisch. Although he loved to play the standard repertoire, Beckles also explored new ground and composers such as Copland, Tippett, Dello Joio, Dallapiccola and Messiaen were presented with flair. He had a special liking for French composers from Faur to Messiaen, their refinement, subtlety, capriciousness and wit. He also enjoyed playing chamber music and for several seasons was the pianist of the Richards Piano Quartet.

Outside piano-playing and teaching Beckles had a particular interest in opera - he was a frequent visitor to Covent Garden - and musicals; he was very knowledgeable on Gershwin and Sondheim.

Alan Morgan

Terence Beckles, pianist: born Bushey, Hertfordshire 1 December 1912; died London 12 February 1995.

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
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

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

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

Recruitment Genius: Project Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This privately-owned company designs and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources Officer

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen at th...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - London - £40,000 + Bonus

£36000 - £40000 per annum + Bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own