Tributes to a true and mighty trumpet

Tributes to a true and mighty trumpet


norman lebrecht

July 21, 2014

Stunned by his death in a road accident, colleagues and friends of the LSO’s former principal trumpet, Rod Franks, have been sharing their sorrows and memories.

Clive Gillinson, the orchestra’s former cellist and managing director (now president of Carnegie Hall), writes to

I knew Rod Franks very well in all my time at the LSO, and listening to his beautiful ,effortless and incredibly musical trumpet playing was one of the highlights of the life of everybody in the orchestra, as well as our audiences.  He was also a very special person who contributed in so many ways in addition to his playing: he had a passion for education and was a really great teacher and communicator and he was a tremendous force for good in the orchestra, sharing his great values in so many ways that mattered.  It’s impossible to imagine him being snatched away like this and tragic on a human as well as musical level.

Daniel Harding, the LSO’s principal guest conductor, writes:

 I can barely comprehend that he is gone. Great sadness and a great man.

LSO violinist Maxine Kwok-Adams, who took the picture below, wrote: You always had time for a smile and a joke. We will miss your consummate musicianship and your friendship.

The BBC played tribute to Rod on Radio 3’s In Tune – an unusual, well-deserved accolade for an orchestral player.

rod franks2






  • Tim Moorey says:

    Writing as an ordinary member of the music public, I would like to add my thoughts to those of the professionals above. For the past 15 years or so, I have been lucky to appreciate Rod’s wonderful musicianship in many of the LSO Barbican concerts. Also lucky to have enjoyed his warm and friendly company at various social events including a charity football match he organised.
    Ready with a smile and a joke, he could always find time to talk to his public during intervals and at the end of a concert.
    As Clive so movingly says, Rod was a very special person who it was a privilege to know. RIP Rod, we will miss you.

  • Frank Lloyd says:

    What sad news about Rod Franks losing his life so tragically. I spent several years playing together with Rod in the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble, and will never forget a concert tour we did around Norway with the PJBE quintet. Rod was becoming increasingly unwell towards the end of the tour, having been diagnosed with an inflamed gall bladder that was in need of urgent treatment. There was just one concert to go – Rod was determined not to opt out, and even though he was really a sick man, he got himself onto the platform and played that concert absolutely fabulously, with never a sign that he was suffering so badly. On the programme was the brass quintet by Richard Rodney Bennet, which has a really tough 1st trumpet part – beautiful it was. On arriving back in the UK the next morning his was rushed straight into hospital for an operation.
    This, and the other health issues he has had to endure in his life, show just how stoic and professional he was at all times, never to be phased and never wanting to let people down. To lose such a fine person and player like this is a cruel turn of fate. My thoughts go out to his family and friends at this very difficult time.