Hugh Wood

He’ll be greatly missed in this country’s wider musical world, equally valued as composer & writer on music. If one had the good fortune to know him personally, a  warm & hearty companion; a listener & a recounter; a great laugher.

More particularly, he’ll be remembered by the generations of Cambridge students whom he taught, individually or in small groups as well as in larger general lectures.  He stood for severity & discipline: Harmony & Counterpoint traditional from the textbook, no new-fangled theoretical notions, repertory mainstream Teutonic Bach-to Brahms (with ardent Schoenberg-extension). For composers, no dainties, trimmings, sweetmeats, lacework, persiflage—absolutely nothing avant-garde/experimental/ conceptual. ‘Victorian Values’ in fact, as of a Stanford or a Parry: ironic when recalling his angry young manhood, flaunting the Socialist red tie, for the true Hugh, later to wholly prevail, was deep-blue-dyed old-style Tory, as unrepresented by the Conservative party of recent decades.

Very  argumentative & opinionated, sometimes aggressively so: yet one could always say “Oh come off it Hugh”, & he’d relax into his familiar chortle, echoing  down a corridor, a colonnade, an empty street, like a rolling barrel. Widely cultivated, an eager reader of poetry, fiction, history, biography. At the centre, total adoration, shining through his every stance.  ‘Adieu Hugh—on t’aimait.’

Robin Holloway

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