Hugh Bean has died

January 7, 2004 at 05:43 PM · From Sue Donim , Jan. 2:

Just found out from a colleague that British violinist Hugh Bean has just died. He had been a professor at the Royal College for many years. Did anyone get to hear this man perform?

Note: apology from Laurie. I accidentally deleted this thread! We are working on getting the other posts people wrote and putting them back up, hopefully by tomorrow.

Replies (36)

January 3, 2004 at 08:19 AM · Greetings,

that is the end of a great institution. He was most a top concertmaster and freelance player as opposed to a lot of solo stuff but I had him for some lessons and heard him play at college many times. A real gentleman and the most beautiful sound. And he had technique coming out of his ears. Kind of short but broad stature so he just slotted the violin in (somewhere) and played like it was part of him.

Death of a genius. Listen to his superb recording of the Elgar concerto,



January 3, 2004 at 11:14 PM · I heard this on BBC Radio 3very recently, and they played a lovely performance of the Faure violin sonata No.1- admittedly I knew very little of this violinist before now but after hearing that recording I realised what a great misfortune the music world suffered with his death.

January 4, 2004 at 01:02 AM · I have a recording of him playing Vaughn-Williams' Lark ascending. It's great.

January 4, 2004 at 11:38 AM · I think I heard him perform once or twice on the radio-very nice playing.

January 4, 2004 at 11:38 AM · Greetings,

here his obituary from the Grauniad,

Hugh Bean, who has died aged 74, was for more than half a century one of Britain's most distinguished and versatile violinists. From recording with the bands of Geraldo and Billy Cotton, he went on to lead the Philharmonia Orchestra, and was an outstanding soloist, chamber musician and teacher.

Born in Beckenham, Kent, the son of a marine engineer father who gave him his first lessons at the age of five, Bean was taken on four years later by Albert Sammons, the leading British violinist of the day. He continued to study with him for almost 20 years.

Bean once told me: "The simplicity of Sammons' own style of playing and personal manner made a very direct contact with his pupils. He described everything in the simplest possible down-to-earth terms that everybody could understand." Bean inherited this simplicity and directness in turn, not least as a teacher.

When he was only 15, Bean won a scholarship to the Royal College of Music, where he continued his studies with Sammons. From 1949 to 1951 he was the first national serviceman to be accepted into the Grenadier Guards, where he led a small string orchestra, despite the high collar of his uniform.

In 1951, Bean came second in the Carl Flesch International Violin Competition and the following year won a scholarship that gave him a year of study under André Gertler at the Brussels Conservatoire, where he took a double premier prix for solo and chamber music playing.

After a short spell as an orchestral freelance, Bean led both the Harvey Phillips String Orchestra and the chamber orchestra that the great horn-player Dennis Brain had started conducting before his death in 1957. In 1956, Bean became sub-leader of the Philharmonia Orchestra, and he always remained grateful to Manoug Parikian, whom he succeeded as leader from 1957 to 1967, for the guidance he received.

Bean was co-leader of the BBC Symphony Orchestra from 1967 to 1969, but resigned to devote more time to solo work and chamber music. In 1966 he had founded the Music Group of London with David Parkhouse (piano), Eileen Croxford (cello), Alan Civil (horn) and Bernard Walton (clarinet). He also founded the Boise Trio with Croxford and Parkhouse, and gave sonata recitals with each of them.

His memorable account of the Elgar Violin Concerto in a 1969 Three Choirs Festival concert conducted by Sir Adrian Boult, broadcast by the BBC, led to performances of the work with other orchestras. Bean's recording of it with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under Sir Charles Groves was reissued on CD in 1993, as was his celebrated interpretation of Vaughan Williams' The Lark Ascending.

In the early 1980s, Bean was invited to start a summer music school in Denmark, at first in Odder with the Music Group of London, and for the last 20 years in Skaelskorlater with the London Music Phoenix, the ensemble that he founded with Keith Puddy (clarinet), Shelagh Sutherland (piano) and Lionel Handy (cello). From 1990 to 1994, Bean returned as co-leader of the (now renamed) Philharmonia Orchestra, and in 1994 was made its leader emeritus.

As a teacher of phenomenal gifts, Bean had an uncanny way of knowing exactly what each student required. He started teaching at the Royal College of Music shortly after he had completed his studies, and was a professor there from 1954 to 1992. He also taught sporadically at the Royal Academy of Music, and in 1970 was made a CBE.

His playing displayed great lyrical feeling and warmth of expression, and as an orchestral leader he ensured a remarkable level of ensemble, especially during the Philharmonia's difficult transition to the self-governing New Philharmonia in 1964.

As a person, Bean had a happy, generous disposition which endeared him to friends, colleagues and students alike. His hobby was a passion for model aircraft and trains, and his greatest pride was his prototype of the model locomotive the Duchess Of Buccleuch, which he would operate wearing his engine-driver's cap.

He made his last solo appearance in 2002 at a memorial concert for one of his students, and was examining and teaching right up until the week before Christmas. He is survived by his wife, Mary, and a daughter.

· Hugh Cecil Bean, violinist, born September 22 1929; died December 26 2003



January 5, 2004 at 07:40 AM · I didn't know Hugh Bean had passed away until I read this message. I havn't seen him for two years but remember him as a wonderful and encouraging teacher as well as an amazing violinist with lots of stories to tell. I played in some masterclasses that he took and was impressed at the time that he was still playing so well - and he knew almost every work presented and would brilliantly demonstrate excerpts at the drop of a hat. I'm sure he will be sorely missed.

January 5, 2004 at 11:08 AM · Greetings,

Iheard him lead the mendellsohn octet at college with all the top player/professors including Rodney Friend. That was just out of this world,



January 5, 2004 at 02:40 PM · I was a pupil of Hugh's at the RCM in the 80s (Steve B, do you remember me? - Alison Irving I was then. You were with Ken Piper and/or John Ludlow right?). I had to give up playing as a result of playing injuries, fairly shortly after I finished at the RCM but Hugh and I kept in touch. He sent me a card before Xmas which gave no indication of him being ill so I guess his death sudden. I heard about his death via a chance phonecall with a friend also a former pupil of his, and then in the obituaries. I am absolutely gutted and am in or close to tears every time I think about it. He was just a fabulous man. A true gent and much more than "just" a teacher to his students and his playing, well, Steve, you said it all. Technique coming out of his ears but incredibly modest with it. I went to loads of concerts of his, both solo and with the music group of London and it didn't matter what the occasion was, he was always stunning. Lessons were pretty amazing to in terms of watching/listening to him play. The end of an era indeed. The likes of Hugh will not come again.

January 6, 2004 at 03:18 AM · Greetings,

Hi Alison. I remember you I think. At least I have a clear mental picture and I hope it is the right person...

I seem to recall your hands were hurting you a bit when ourpaths crossed in orchestra.

Sorry you had to quit. But there are an awful lot offun things other than playing to do out there.

There is one point I forget to make about Hugh. We are always talking about Heifetz and Misltein et al on this list but what might pass unnoticed is that more often than not, it was Hugh leading the orchestra in many of those perfoamnces /recordings and his conctribution to the musical legacy of the masters was very real,

Good to hear from you,


January 6, 2004 at 08:49 AM · I agree with what you were saying about Hugh. He behaved like "a regular guy" and yet you only had to spend a bit of time with him to realise that in many ways he was anything but. He always had something interesting to say and his anecdotes gave a real insight into the work of some of the most notable musicians of the last century. Reading the obituaries really brought home to me what he'd achieved too (e.g. 2nd prize in the Carl Flesch comp - not bad for a 22 year old eh?). He was up there with the best, and indeed, was one of the best. Yet he was terribly modest about his abilities and I think often happiest when he was sitting chatting with his pupils/members of whatever band he was leading. That's one of the reasons he was so endearing. I only have positive things to say about him and his playing I'm afraid.......

Glad I stuck in your mind anyway Steve, though not necessarily for the reasons I'd have liked. I've done a few things since the RCM but still miss playing and am still looking for the fun!!! A

January 6, 2004 at 09:06 PM · Buri,

is Alison perhaps the only member of this board who has seen you?

January 7, 2004 at 12:28 AM · Greetings,

Brian, don`t know how she did it. I tried to stay invisible in that nightmare place...



January 7, 2004 at 09:37 AM · Brian - "Buri" as he wasn't known then was frequently found hiding behind a cup of coffee.......... I acksherly quite liked the RCM myself ...... of course, as far as some people were concerned you were only an acceptable person if you were a "scholar" or learning with a "certain teacher" who shall remain nameless. I wasn't either of those and I don't think Steve was but hey ..... we had our own little outcast community!!! Some aspects of the place were fine and of course, the likes of Hugh made it all worthwhile....

January 7, 2004 at 09:49 AM · I seem to have posted the same message 3 times. Sorry chaps. New to this discussion board stuff.......

January 7, 2004 at 11:08 AM · Greetings,

Alison, I liked the College really. But it seemd to me to be in a kind of transitory stage when we were there. There was this old school of British violinists headed by Hugh who all worked together and numbered among the best people I ever met.

But times were changing and all three London institutions were forced to compete in essence to produce soloists and have soloists on the board and so on and the whole thing got a bit nasty. The Academy got its little Thatcher slogan "The Pursuit of Excellence" and sacked Trevor Willaims at the same time. That"s nuts. At least the college had the good sense to snap him up.

I did most of my studying after college although full marks to Mr Ludlow for getting me through that recital thingy....

I often wonder where all those great players went. Bobby Gibbs is a well established recording artist and leader of the Flesch Quartet with Mark Denman. Rebecca Hirsch is recording for Naxos but what about her extraordinary sister? Do you ever hear about Karen Tan? She was also with Hugh, right?

Colin Davis is playing in the Boston Pops these days...

Aaaaah, nostalgia



January 8, 2004 at 03:16 AM · Greetings,

please feel freee to delete anything about me (that I wrote). I feel this thread should be in memory of Mr Bean,



January 8, 2004 at 03:29 AM · He was a very fine violinist. For many years concertmaster (leader) of the Philharmonia Orchestra. Studied with Albert Sammons ( the great violinist friend of Elgar) and was something of an authority on the Elgar Concerto. One of the old school of orchestra leaders and one of the old school of european violinists ...will be sadly missed

January 8, 2004 at 11:12 PM · I'm feel as Steve does. This is Hugh's column. He was a great violinist and fantastic human being. A

January 11, 2004 at 07:24 PM · I tried to mail you directly Steve since we said this column was for Hugh, but my mails were chucked back at me (bad gateway). And since this is about Hugh's funeral it's not irrelevant. I thought you might be interested in hearing about it. I was lucky enough to get wind of in time to attend. It was in his local church in Sydenham nr Beckenham - easily 250 people there (not including the 36 piece orchestra of pros) - certainly

standing room only. Half the string players in the country were there I should think - lots of people from past and present - many I didn't know, but amongst those that I did - Alan Loveday,

Eileen Croxford, Frances Mason, Mike Davis. Bela Dekany, Raymond Ovens - lots of RCM people - some of

whom I recognised, others not. Even more from the Philharmonia and BBC - not just string players either.

Hugh's wife and daughter were

there too, as ever, their first concern being to welcome everyone and thank them for coming. We

were treated to a top notch mini concert e.g. Mike Whight playing slow

movt from Mozart Clar. conc, Ken Smith Bach's Minuette and Badinerie,

Walton Death of Falstaff, Mendelssohn Italian slow movt. John Ludlow was no 4

in the orchestra (James Clarke, David Juritz on the front desk - Nick Whiting leading 2nds I think) and did an absolutely fabulous address about Hugh as you can probably imagine. There couldn't have been a better person for it. He was funny (I should think Hugh was laughing his socks off if he could hear), touching and yet had Hugh down to a tee. The vicar was good too - obviously held Hugh in high regard. After the ceremony, in true Bean tradition, we had tea and cakes which was an opportunity for people to meet and catch up. All in all, a great send off

for him and a fitting tribute to such a wonderful person. He'd have been chuffed to bits to see all

those people there though in

his usual modest manner he probably would have expressed surprise too. But we weren't surprised. He was a truly great bloke and will be sadly missed by many more than those there on Friday.

January 13, 2004 at 10:50 PM · Steve, just seen one of your previous messages. In answer to your Q where did a lot of those great players go?.........well, goood question. It just goes to show that just because you are a "big noise" at a college, it doesn't necessarily follow that you will continue to be so once you leave. A lot of those "great players" passed through Hugh's hands...part of that "British institution" you speak of that he headed. I don't know about a lot of them. Some are in London or other orchs throughout the UK. There are even one or two in the CBSO, though probably more of my era than yours. "Miffy" Hirsch I believe freelances - I've seen her playing with the Philharmonia (not sure she ever had lessons with Hugh), Steve Bryant leads the BBCSO with Mike Davis....Robert Bishop is no 3!! Thelma Handy is co leader of the RLPO, Ann Lawes leads the 2nds.... it goes on. Lik Wuk - remember him? From Singapore - Hugh's best pupil by a long way at the time we were there. He's doing some solo work I think - looks like he's doing ok. Karen Tan is in the Singapore SO...... if I think of more, I'll tell you. That such a lot of them passed through Hugh's teaching room at some point again, is a tribute to him. I'm sure there were many more before and after our time too....

February 5, 2004 at 03:18 AM · Hiya Steven- I am really interested in what you mentioned (albeit briefly)about politics at RCM and how it really spoils music.. I am an undergrad at the VIctorian College of the Arts in Australia and am really interested in your experiences at RCM...this is my second degree (the first being pharmacy) and I really wanted to study as a postgrad at RCM.. email me:

regards Michelle

February 6, 2004 at 01:55 AM · Greeins,

Hi Michelle. Please call me Buri. I`m afraid my e mail is non compos mentis at the moment but if there is nothign to personal why don`t you stick at least part of your interest up in the list here. ear in mind the I left the RCM way back in the beignning of time,

Incidentally, there wasasmall noticin the Strad that due to cut back the RCM is going to have to dispose of some taechers. whether r not this some of the old geezers teaching harmony to reluctant violnists or important staff (?) I have no idea



February 6, 2004 at 03:18 AM · Hey Buri- Just wasn't sure whether to get into this on Hugh Bean's memorial!! But anyways- just found it interesting what you and Alison were briefly mentioning about certain big noises at college and where are they now?? I can say that certain people really spoil the atmosphere at college and can make workshops, concert class etc a total nightmare.. It is really sad that most music schools have this side to them and that it is often fuelled along by certain teachers and conductors... there is so much bias - I think that the music is often second on the list at college but the training is a necessity especially this day in age... It doesn't matter that you were at RCM years ago- I think the same stuff goes on forever in such places.. I was thinking of applying there as a postgrad but being Australian I don't think I could afford the fee- maybe a scholarship but that's not easy either.. I was just interested to know what it was like as an undergrad for you...Is it a really competitive place and do you feel really uncomfortable playing there?? I think that alot of people withdraw into themselves at college because of the environment and it is so sad because there is so much psychology in how well you play and perform.. At the end of the day it is the music isn't it and I think people forget that with all the elitism- it is particularly hard with strings- there is such a primadonna attitude with most departments... Still- would love to know what the life is like at RCM- it seems to be the pinnacle of music studies (or one of them) but maybe it has a dark side too like everything else??! Thanx for the reply too

Regards Michelle

February 6, 2004 at 03:28 AM · Greetings,

Michelle, I strated a new thread on this so not to get distarced from Hugh Bean although it should be said that he was one of the people who made the college such a warm and construcitve er... place,



April 6, 2004 at 11:09 AM · I was very sad indeed to read of Hugh's death. A great loss to all who knew him. Then delighted to read comments from Alison Loram - can you email me independently? I am a bit hazy on this modern technology.

April 6, 2004 at 11:32 AM · Greetings,

Richard you son of a gun!

How"s life?

You can get my email from Alison if you so wish,



April 6, 2004 at 02:17 PM · I don't have your mail though I'd like it. Everytime I've tried it, it's bounced back at me........ I've corresponded with Richard though - or rather he with me and I've replied. So that's 3 of us Bean/Ludlow groupies. I wonder who else will materialise. Anyone out there? A

April 6, 2004 at 11:59 PM · Greetings,

I think it is rather nice that the Bean thread is bringing people out of the woodwork (or the bar...),

I imagine he would have been pleased,

Alison, I sent you my new email but I will do it again. It might just be a bouncy little number,



April 6, 2004 at 11:59 PM · Greetings,

I think it is rather nice that the Bean thread is bringing people out of the woodwork (or the bar...),

I imagine he would have been pleased,

Alison, I sent you my new email but I will do it again. It might just be a bouncy little number,



April 7, 2004 at 06:48 AM · Yup, I reckon Hugh'd have been chuffed. I think one of the times he was in his element was when surrounded by his students (including all those who took "orchestral repertoire" with him.

No address so far........ I have a mail filtering system as I get loads of spam each day - but I didn't see anything I recognised....... Can you try again and put something recogniseable in the title - like your name!! Ta. A

April 8, 2004 at 02:56 PM · Buri could you please tell me the name of the new thread you started for Michelle as I am very interested in reading it. Thankyou very much. Jenny.

April 9, 2004 at 12:19 AM · Greetings,

Jenny, you need to search the archives for music college,



PS mines hte one with the prunes...

August 10, 2004 at 12:38 AM · greetings.

It has taken me quite a while to think about what to say. well, what can I say? He was to me the inspiration for me to study the violin when I first heard the Lark Ascending when I was three years old. Some ten years later I won a scholarship to NESMS when I studied with him where my lesson with him was generally referred to as "the mutual admiration society". When he stopped teaching up in Aberdeen he put me in touch with Ken Piper with whom I studied until I went to the RNCM on viola.

He inspired me to put my mind to teaching instead of playing as I wanted to inspire young budding violinists as he had me. A week after I heard he had died, I was informed that I had been nominated for the Yamaha Instrumental teacher of the year, I attribute my passion for teaching and playing to him. He was a great man and the world has been a lesser place since his passing.

August 23, 2004 at 09:08 AM · I’ve just seen this board for the first time and wanted to add a few words about Hugh, whom I knew very well. I was Associate Leader (Concertmaster) of the Philharmonia Orchestra for a few years when Hugh was working there, so we sat together a great deal, and I became very fond of this kind and modest man. His technique was indeed prodigious, and he was always prepared to share his knowledge with anyone interested. His solo playing, even well into his sixties, was sweet and polished, always immaculate, and he produced a beautiful silvery sound on his Petrus Guarneri (Venice) violin. His musical knowledge was broad and deep, though he had strange self-imposed limitations: I remember him telling me proudly once that he’d never ridden a horse, never been to an opera, and never eaten foreign food (which he referred to as “muck”), and I still smile at memories of Hugh living on cheese sandwiches when on tour in such places as France and Italy! Hugh was invariably generous about his colleagues (rare in London!”) and I know was much loved by his pupils. I often sat on examining or audition boards with him at the Royal College of Music, and it was always a bit of a struggle to restrain him from giving top marks to everyone! On occasion, when I had trouble deciding on bowing or fingerings for a difficult solo, Hugh was always ready to help, even to lend his personal copies of pieces, and on several occasions he provided me with simple solutions that I was rather ashamed of not having seen for myself. My youthful idealism was much matured by his vast and deep experience.

On a sad note, having seen the odd reference to Ken Piper on this board, I must add here (the reason I saw this board in the first place) that I heard yesterday that he had died a day or two ago. I had been Ken’s pupil at the RCM Junior Dept in the sixties, though we hadn’t kept in touch. I know he leaves a daughter, Clare, and I believe another, called, I think, Marilyn.

August 23, 2004 at 03:57 PM · Hugh Bean really was an amazing violinist. (and person by the sounds of it) His playing is really amazing and it's a shame not more people know of him.

He will be missed.

August 31, 2004 at 11:12 PM · When I was living in Havering, I was a member of the Hornchurch Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Dennis Clift. Hugh came across the river for concerts (Sibelius and Tchaikovsky while I was with the orchestra). Of course - wonderful performances. I think the measure of this wonderful man is that (so I heard) he wouldn't take a penny from the orchestra - not even to cover his petrol expenses. Sadly missed.

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