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
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Internal Recruiter - Manufacturing

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Internal Recruiter (manufact...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager (CIPD) - Barking / East Ham - £50-55K

£50000 - £55000 per annum + 25 days holidays & benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Man...

Recruitment Genius: Operations / Project Manager

£40000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...

Ashdown Group: Human Resources Manager

£28000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: A successful organisation...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory