The Guardian wrote of him, "Struggling with an inadequate instrument a sharp-pitch A clarinet with a bit sawn off in the school woodwork room and playing in local bands and amateur orchestras with people much older than himself, he learned his craft in the most practical way. They married in when they were both There was one son of the marriage. Frederick Thurston and Reginald Kell unwittingly betrayed their methods to me, but I also decided that I wanted to play in certain ways that they had never done.
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Jack Brymer AM BST 17 Sep Jack Brymer, who died on Monday aged 88, was a clarinettist whose relaxed playing style and serene tone inspired a generation of players after the war. It is an instrument that needed such an ambassador. He also played under Stokowski, Koussevitsky and Bruno Walter. But his mastery of the clarinet came from his own understanding of its limits. As he said, "The ability to play the clarinet is the ability to overcome the imperfections of the instrument.
His colleagues envied his complete lack of nerves and innate gift for sight-reading. These he punctuated with recordings of a man playing a pencil, and anecdotes related in a voice that was as soothing as his playing. Indeed, he was no less recognisable as a speaker than as a player, and was frequently heard presenting programmes on BBC Radio.
His father was a builder and a clarinettist who left the clarinet on the chimneypiece. Brymer started teaching himself aged four, and was playing solos with a military band by the time he was He also rapidly became an accomplished saxophonist. Still, he had little thought of pursuing it professionally.
From until he was called up in , he taught at Heath Clark School in Croydon. During the war he served as a PT instructor in the RAF, and returned to Croydon to continue teaching a wide range of subjects.
At this time he worked with amateur orchestras, through which he met his wife, Joan Richardson, a viola player with whom he was to have a son. Beecham asked him, "What shall we play, my boy? On one occasion Beecham was on the rostrum and Strauss in the audience listening to his own Don Juan.
This was a big change from the light music Brymer had been used to playing, but he learnt the repertoire rapidly.
He became instantly adept at any style, and when the orchestra was on tour in New Orleans, he found himself improvising with local jazz stars, including Alphonse Picou, who had written Alligator Hop and Olympia Rag for King Oliver.
In Pierre Boulez became conductor. Brymer was more likely to be heard playing the music of Eric Coates than Luciano Berio. He went to the London Symphony Orchestra in , and was 72 when he retired. Brymer was appointed OBE in , and received honorary degrees from the universities of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Kingston and de Montfort. Even when he was with the RPO, he kept up his commitments to dance bands, and also directed chamber ensembles.
This activity required remarkable stamina, which led him to feats that would have terrified the toughest musicians.
Mozart: Clarinet Concerto; Clarinet Quintet
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