Hugh Wood

A friendship of more than sixty years. Sometimes near neighbours, colleagues in the Faculty and in recent times, when mobility was limited, patrons of the telephone company, both a bit deaf, understanding not everything that each one of us said, but at least responding to humorous and ironic comments on the world, on the state of music, on our own perilous conditions.

The last phone-call on Wednesday last week (August 11), a good half hour in length, a mix of our own news, for what there was of it, the sins committed by all our acquaintances and even more so the newspapers and radio and television.

Hugh’s life before and recently had not been a smooth ride. Of steadfast convictions, but changing from time to time, often in reaction to some non-plus-ultra of awfulness or false consciousness, he managed to combine a kind of personal romanticism with a sharp critical sense. These qualities were very much there in his constant love of music, as well as in his relationship to friends and pupils.

At his best, he wrote excellent pieces, Comus, the 5th string quartet, songs, and struggled as we all do (or did) with the conflicting demands of inspiration, spontaneity and ideology. A sharp and fluent critic of others, he applied the same to himself.

Our phone call ended with laughter, not always on subjects appropriate to our more-or-less equal ages. When the immediate grief recedes, the laughter will echo in me, as well as the affection and shared purposes.

Alexander Goehr

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