Ian Partridge tenor
While his concert career was being established, he was appointed director of Music at Westminster Cathedral. He had a deep affinity with Catholic church music and had enjoyed a successful period of time as choirmaster in a south London church. He disliked the hooty sound so prevalent in choirboys at that time, and was to achieve great success in producing the bright "continental" sound that so impressed Britten when he wrote his "Missa Brevis" especially for the Westminster Cathedral Choir. It was a year earlier that I had joined the choir as a tenor, my first work as a professional singer. George taught me how to sing plainchant and was very encouraging.
He was measured and precise in everything he did. He had no small talk, and found any form of overt praise embarrassing. I can remember having tea in Fullers with George and some other choir members, during which his mother arrived. She enthused about his new harpsichord record "Bach goes to Town", which consisted of some tech- nically brilliant and entertaining arrangements by George of some well known pieces, including a truly stunning "Flight of the Bumblebee". He was not at all happy with the adulation!
He left the Cathedral to enable him to accept the ever increasing demands on him for concert performances. He became conductor of the London Philomusica and associate conductor of the BBC Scottish Orchestra, as well as continuing to play the large 18th century keyboard repertoire.
I had the pleasure of performing some Schubert songs with him at his 80th birthday celebration concert at the Wigmore Hall this February, after which, in my capacity of President of the ISM, I was thrilled to present him with the ISM Distinguished Musician award.
Ian Partridge, 23 October 1997.