It was only when making a habitual visit to the Robert Simpson Society’s home page that I learned of his death, some weeks afterwards. I was saddened to hear of this, and of the pain he had suffered since his stroke. May he rest in peace.
I cannot add much to the already fine obituaries and tributes that I have read here; I can only add my own perspective of loss. It was always exciting to hear that a new Simpson piece was “in the offing” (in particular, I recall the wonderful introduction and broadcast of his 11th Symphony on Radio 3), so it is dismaying (albeit selfish) to know that the flow has certainly stopped.
Probably like many others, I came to Simpson through the Ninth Symphony’s rosette and glowing review in the Penguin Guide, when I was just beginning to “branch out” into modern symphonists. Having been raised on rock (as it were) and only subsequently developed an interest in the classics, there have been very few symphonies that grabbed me on the first listen, but I loved the Ninth from the start.
Though I can (just about) “tell a fifth from a rissole”, that’s about as far as it goes, but lack of “deep” musical knowledge has not proved necessary for me to enjoy any of Simpson’s work. I now have every Simpson recording that Hyperion has to offer, and no regrets. Indeed, it was through Simpson that I grew to appreciate the string quartet; I am now moving “backwards” through quartet history, and have just reached Beethoven!
Though the man has gone, his music will live on. Again from a personal perspective, I look forward to hearing more of his music: more premier recordings, perhaps some alternative recordings, and hopefully to attend public performances (something I have not yet managed to do).
Dr. Brian Ritchie
Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Oxon
6 January 1998