Scenes from a great musician's funeral

Scenes from a great musician's funeral


norman lebrecht

January 16, 2012

The American tenor Paul Austin Kelly was asked to sing last week at the funeral of Martin Isepp, the unforgettable singing teacher and accompanist. Here is his account:

Martin’s widow Rose asked me to sing for Martin’s funeral. It was a small family gathering in a tiny stone church with a little pipe organ here in Sussex. She had asked if I would sing “Where E’er You Walk” and an acapella version of the hymn “God Be in My Head.”

Ten minutes before the service was to begin the power in the village went out. We did the service in the dark and everything was acapella. It was quite beautiful and I feel it must have been Martin’s doing. He never did like the organ.



And here are Paul and Martin performing Schumann’s Dichterliebe.


  • Thanks, Norman.

    Just to set the scene for this video. This was our first full recital together and it was at a huge old mansion called Hammerwood House ( It’s a beautiful place owned by a lovely chap named David Pinnegar. It’s history, by the way, is very interesting so well worth checking out the website.

    There were two trials to overcome at this venue––one was the piano, an 1886 Bechstein that was tuned in ‘unequal temperament,’ which was quite foreign at first to our ears. The other was that the place was freezing cold!! It was 20th of November and only the library, our recital room, was heated at all and that but scarcely.

    So, when you listen pity Martin’s poor frozen fingers and my lower register. 😉


  • Lisa Nelsen says:

    Thank you so much for sharing! I hadn’t seen Martin since working with him in Banff about 20 years ago. He had a wonderful influence on everyone there, and it’s quite an honour to have had any kind of contact with his inspiring artistry.