Road tragedy: British conductor is killed

We regret to report the death of Frank Shipway, a British conductor of vast experience. Frank, who was 79, was killed after a to-vehicle crash on the A342 at Wedhampton, in Wiltshire.

He was driving  a Jaguar XJ8 that collided with a Vauxhall Astravan travelling in the opposite direction on Tuesday, around 5pm. He died of his injuries yesterday at Southampton General Hospital. The driver of the van was discharged from hospital on Monday night.

frank shipway1

 

Assistant conductor to Lorin Maazel at the Deutsche Oper Berlin in 1973, Frank Shipway formed the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI in Italy in 1993 and was its chief conductor for four years. Between 1996 and 1999 he was chief conductor and artistic director of BRT Philharmonic Orchestra in Brussels, then on the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra. He guest conducted with the Cleveland Orchestra, Teatro alla Scala Orchestra, and the Moscow, Helsinki and Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestras.

A recording of Mahler’s fifth symphony that he made with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in the 1990s is highly prized among Mahlerians.

 

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  • Robert Garbolinski says:

    This is terrible news – I remember being in Torino and working with him on The Dream of Gerontius for two performances at Lingotto. He even arranged for a restaurant to open for the chorus as everything else was closed! He will always be remembered as a demanding but extremely kind man.

  • Fabio Zanon says:

    Frank Shipway was one of the greatest conductors I’ve ever seen, final stop. He was a regular guest at the São Paulo Symphony – OSESP over the last ten years and every concert he conducted here was memorable. I remember a Sibelius #2 where everything came together, complex, intense, precise and overwhelming. I heard one of the major London orchestras playing the same piece with a much more famous conductor two weeks later at the RFH and it sounded prosaic and lacklustre in comparison. His Dream of Gerontius was also the best Elgar I’ve ever heard outside of Britain. I have no idea how he conducted in earlier years, as he rarely conducted in London when I lived there, but it is too bad there are not many videos and recordings of his extraordinary last ten years, when he managed to reach as high as the greatest of his contemporaries. His Strauss Alpensymphonie recorded in São Paulo is one of the glorious exceptions.

  • Nick says:

    I remember attending a concert he conducted with the Waltham Forest Philharmonic in London in 1970. I believe he was then its Music Director.

  • John Elliott says:

    So sorry to hear this news. As a student, I played for several years in both the Forest Philharmonic and the Hatfield Philharmonic. Later, I also played with him in professional British orchestras. A demanding conductor, and an irrepressible showman, but he produced wonderful concerts. I shall miss him.

  • Alberto says:

    R.I.P. Frank. I grew up with your concerts in Copenhagen and looked very much forward to seeing you in Finland next October.

  • Tero-Pekka Henell says:

    Sad news. What a marvellous person and a good friend Frank was – I had the pleasure of working him a lot during my time as the GM of the Sinfonia Lahti. As a frequent Guest conductor he had a huge impact on the development of many orchestras in Finland from the 80’s onward, apart from Sinfonia Lahti also with Turku Philharmonic Orchestra, Kuopio City orchestra and Oulu Sinfonia. Hard rehearsals, powerful concerts and a number of very memorable post-concert evenings and nights! And after them Frank always took the 5.00 a.m. bus from Lahti to the Helsinki Airport – we called the bus “Shipway Express”… Frank was supposed to conduct in Kuopio once again this Autumn; after getting the sad news GM Michael Claussen just decided to name the occasion Frank Shipway Memorial Concert.

  • Jonathan Small says:

    This is truly devastating news. I was one of dozens of young musicians from the northeast London area in the 1970s and early 80s who played under Frank Shipway in Forest Philharmonic. Here was an international conductor of extraordinary ability and almost unique musicianship, spending his Monday evenings training an orchestra of keen amateurs and aspiring music students to reach incredible musical heights in the most demanding repertoire. I have always believed that while I learned to play the oboe at the Royal College, I learned how to play in an orchestra under Frank and his influence on my musical values is very deep-seated, to this day.

    Having moved away I had little contact with him for some years until 2004 when he wrote me the most gracious and complimentary letter following the release of my recording of the Strauss Oboe Concerto. I hope he sensed his influence in it, but at any rate we met quite regularly after that especially since I took up conducting regularly myself a couple of years later. Frank’s generosity in assisting me was extraordinary. I spent a day with him last winter studying Mahler 2 for a performance which in the event was stunningly successful.

    At the age of 79 Frank was healthy and very active. His sense of humour and zest were undimmed and he still had a huge amount to contribute both in the concert hall, in recording and in training new conductors. I know there are scores of my contemporaries out there who will recognise the Frank Shipway we all knew: we will all miss him very much.

  • Marcelo Lopes (Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra - Executive Director) says:

    Maestro Shipway had a long and very special relationship with Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra. For one decade here, his concerts were the most sought after moments in our season. Undoubtedly, he made our lives meaningful and brought us hope in the future of the classical music as a great art form. A very demanding conductor that always made the orchestra sounds superb. Musicians and audience are shocked and the main newspapers have announced the tragedy.

    He was expected for three weeks in our season still in 2014, in September and November. One of them would be La Damnation de Faust (Berlioz), a huge work in which he was unmatched. Our last recording, released last year by Bis, Richard Strauss’ Eine Alpensinfonie was awarded the second prize of BBC Music Magazine Awards 2014.
    Tonight, we are playing a concert that will be a tribute for his memory. It is a great loss for Sao Paulo music lovers and we join his family and friends in such a difficult moment.

    Below, some links of his performances with Osesp can be found. There are some podcasts, live recordings in our hall, including the Sibelius Symphony #2 mentioned, and some videos of rehearsals, including his last appearance of him playing Domestic Symphonies.
    Some videos recorded by TV Cultura might be available soon. We will post the links here.

    http://podcast.osesp.art.br/2009/12/16/sinfonia-no-2-em-re-maior-op43-excertos/
    http://podcast.osesp.art.br/2012/12/28/edward-elgar-sinfonia-nº-2-op-63/
    http://podcast.osesp.art.br/2011/09/15/valsas-de-josef-strauss/
    http://podcast.osesp.art.br/2011/08/31/polcas-de-josef-e-johann-strauss/

    STRAUSS | Fantasia Sinfônica Sobre a Mulher sem Sombra – http://vimeo.com/26025520
    HINDEMITH | Concerto Para Violoncelo | Christian Poltéra – http://vimeo.com/52462342
    SIBELIUS | Sinfonia nº 4 em Lá Menor, Op. 63 – http://vimeo.com/68322569
    BRAHMS | Concerto nº 1 Para Piano em Ré Menor, Op.15 | Paul Lewis – http://vimeo.com/68392279
    STRAUSS | Sinfonia Doméstica – http://vimeo.com/68796374
    WALTON | Concerto Para Violoncelo | Christian Poltéra – http://vimeo.com/70130411

    • John Kelly says:

      Thank you Mr. Lopes! This is truly awful and tragic news. The Alpine Symphony recording is superb and the orchestra sounds as good as any anywhere. The Elgar #2 you offer as a podcast is quite simply magnificent. What energy and passion, and a string sound Stokowski would have been proud of in the slow movement! RIP Mr. Shipway. I heard that Henry Fogel heard a broadcast of Rachmaninov 2 with the Cleveland Orchestra and compared Shipway to Furtwangler! Not far off I’d say based on the Elgar.

  • michaela says:

    RIP Dear Frank the pleasure to work and sing with him the 4 French Songs Britten with the radio orchestra of Belgium was intense, and later in some operaconcerts. He was an intense musician and conductor, phenomemal memory. Thanks to him i was introduced to another great musician Anna Reynolds. Only good true memories.

    • Western Shipway says:

      Hi Thank you for your nice comments about Frank. I met Anna Reynolds a few times whilst in London going to Franks concerts.
      Very best wishes to you from Western Shipway (Franks younger brother)

  • Roderick says:

    Very sad to hear this about Frank. I never knew him to give a dull performance of anything, from Mahler to Suppe! What a shame to have such a tragic end. RIP Frank.

  • David Johnston says:

    I played principal clarinet with the Forest Philharmonic under Frank’s direction. He was demanding, but I really respected everything he did. What a shock.

  • Larry Ludwig says:

    Maestro Shipway also guest conducted several times over the years with OSESP, the Symphonic Orchestra of the State of São Paulo (Orquestra Sinfónica do Estado de São Paulo), basically the São Paulo Symphonic Orchestra of Brasil.

    At an open rehearsal of OSESP this morning (August 8), the entire orchestra rose, along with those in the audience, and stood in an extended silent homage to Shipway. Following the tribute, guest conductor Giancarlo Guerrero addressed the orchestra with words conveying the following…While I did not personally know Maestro Shipway, he was a fellow conductor, a fellow musician. He conducted you, was part of your family, and as such, he is a part of my family. We are all musicians. The best way we can honor him today is to play incredible music.

    He proceeded with the downbeat to commence with Richard Strauss´tone-poem, “Don Juan”…and yes, the performance was incredible, exciting, moving.

  • Gary Carpenter says:

    I used to assiduously attend the Forest Phil concerts when a boy in Walthamstow. A great conductor, seriously underestimated in my opinion. A very sad piece of news.

  • Claus Efland says:

    This is horrible news. I never got to meet Frank Shipway personally, but we used to have regular contact via telephone. I shall never forget the first time he would ring me up, how nervous I was. Especially when I realized it was HIM! He wanted to ask questions about bowings for the Alpine Symphony, and if I could recommend him a good soprano for Four Last Songs!!! Always so kind and gentle, will surely miss his calls.

  • Arian McLeish says:

    As a music student at the RCM in the early 70s, I got some of my best orchestral experience playing horn in Frank Shipway’s London orchestras. With great appreciation, gratitude and fondness, I happily remember playing “The Rite of Spring,” “Don Quixote,” (with Tortelier) “Sheherazade,” Verdi’s Requiem and Bruckner 8, pieces I would never have got to play at college. Yes, he was demanding but yes, he got great results and always produced exciting concerts. What a sad end to such a productive life! Thank you, Frank.

  • Branimir says:

    Sad news also for all of us who remember maestro Shipway from Croatia, where he served, around 2000, not the full time unfortunately, first as a guest, and then as the chief conductor of the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra.
    I remember him saying about conducting: “I don’t want an orchestra to go on autopilot with me conducting, but all the musicians to act as a flying flock of the birds, mysteriously moving in different directions in a blink of time as one body”.

    His Mahler in Zagreb will be remembered, as well as highly cultivated sound he achieved with the orchestra.

    Rest in peace.

  • Nick says:

    This blog has several threads about artists like Aaron Rosand not getting the international recognition they deserved – for reasons we need not repeat here. But I wonder why we know so little about Frank Shipway? I have spent much of my life in the music business and only saw conduct one concert on a visit to London. Does anyone know why he was not signed to a record label? Naxos recorded with some splendid relatively less well-known conductors – artists like Georg Tintner whose Naxos Bruckner cycle has been universally praised. Why did they and others miss out on Shipway?

  • Gordon Davies says:

    I entirely concur with these glowing tributes. People might also have mentioned Frank’s sense of humour. When Jonathan Small (who writes above) – then very young – was a member of Forest Phil, Dad’s Army was on TV. Frank took on the role of Capt Mainwaring when asking (ordering) Jonathan, whom he cast as Private Pike, to change anything, invariably finishing the admonition with the phrase “Stupid boy!”.

  • Arvo Volmer says:

    Very sad indeed, he was a most remarkable conductor and a fine musician, I had the priviledge to see him work in Denmark in early 90s. May the memory of him and his work last long.

  • Nick says:

    There’s an interesting thread on an amazon forum titled “Who’s Frank Shipway?” One poster who had been Principal Bass with the Royal Opera House Orchestra in the mid-1960s also played with Shipway and the Forest Philharmonic for 15 years. He introduced Shipway to Colin Davis who then went to hear a couple of his concerts. According to Davis, what hindered Shipway’s career was his “air de grandeur”.

  • Alberto says:

    Air de grandeur is essenial, as long as you have “air de knowledge”. Unfortunately, if you mostly have air de “bullshit” it’s even better…

  • Michael Kibblewhite says:

    Frank Shipway was also an outstanding and unique choral conductor. I enjoyed the privilege, and challenge, of preparing large combined choirs (usually the NELP, Harlow and Hatfield Philharmonic choruses) for him, to sing the big symphonic choral works with the Forest Phil in the RAH, RFH and Walthamstow Assembly Hall. His choral rehearsals were demanding and stimulating, he pushed amateur singers to their very limits, but the phenomenal end results always justified the means. For him, the choir was another orchestral instrument, and his ability to create fabulous choral textures was very special. Chorus-mastering for Frank – in this case, often involving mediation between choir and conductor – was a fantastic, sometimes frustrating, learning curve for me. But I’m sure I speak on behalf of the many hundreds of choristers who sang under him when I say that his Verdi Requiems, Mahler 8’s and Gerontius’s were unforgettable, totally wonderful musical occasions. Thank you, Frank, for the experience and for being who you were.

  • Mike says:

    I`ve been a violinist in the Kuopio Symphony for a long time. I was heartbroken when I read the news. Franky Boy, as we knew him, was a regular here in the 90`s, what wonderful memories. Tough as hell when he started, but definitely mellowed over the years. Wonderful humour as well as being a great conductor and musician. How well he understood the different instruments. It was a real pleasure to sit and listen as he rehearsed the wind or brass for example. He demanded six hour rehearsals which made him unpopular with some, for me it was heaven. Between the two separate three hour rehearsals was the oh so important two hour lunch break! He had in Kuopio his regular ‘lunch club’, and the fun we had. He had so many stories: “Did I ever tell you this one?” he would ask. “No!” came the sarcastic reply as we would listen for a third time! Also very amusing during rehearsals. He looked many years ago at our then principal second violin: “Your job” he said “is to lead, not mislead!” I could go on.
    His farewell concert to us in 2001 will be remembered for ever. The glorious second symphony of Rachmaninov. What a wonderful week and what a fantastic concert. The entire string section played the whole symphony using only one finger! And what a wonderful result.
    He made one more appearance with us in 2012 doing Bruckner`s eigth. Such was the high esteem in which he was held, the orchestra used its entire years supply of extra players for this one concert.
    Sadly he will not now be back in October as was planned, for the Enigma Variations.
    I personally Frank will miss you like hell. We all will.

  • Helen R. (Herts. Chorus) says:

    Well said Michael. I was shocked to hear the news. I was pleased to see your statement; you echo the thoughts of many of us who sang in the Hatfield Phil. back in the 70s under Frank’s baton. Always a privilege and a challenge. H.R.

  • amazonian says:

    I listened many times to Shipway conducting the São Paulo Symphony at the Sala São Paulo (the orchestra’s hall). He was a fine conductor, sometimes a bit heavy on the melodramatic and favoring slower tempi (and he surely had “airs de grandeur”, as someone said here quoting Colin Davis).

    But he could make the orchestra sound great in his favorite English and late-romantic repertoire (the last is not my favorite, btw — I have never heard his Alpine Symphony for BIS with the SPSO, much-appreciated in general, and much criticized by some for its slowness, as R. Strauss descriptive pieces usually make me sleep).

    It was a bit puzzling to read in the Amazon thread someone quoted here that he was bad-tempered and difficult with the musicians. Here in Brazil, his obituaries stressed how much the São Paulo SO musicians liked him — he was the orchestra’s best-loved regular guest conductor, some say. The musicians always gave him some foot-stomping at the end of his concerts, something few other guest conductors usually got (I can remember Osmo Vanska, Eiji Oue, John Nelson and Gennady Rosdestsevensky getting the same applause).

    He didn’t have a fixed position with the orchestra, as someone has asked, but he always did one or two concerts every year for the last ten years or so. Maybe that has something to do with Henry Fogel admiring him — Fogel is a consultant to the São Paulo Symphony in hiring foreign conductors and soloists.

    I have always wondered why he seemed to be so little known and acknowledged in the musical world, at least in its Internet version. I hope these snippets of information help those who would like to know him better. He will certainly be missed and mourned here in São Paulo — I post below a link to a webpage the SPSO has assembled with an eulogy and some videos of his rehearsals and concerts — only in Portuguese, at least for now.

    http://www.osesp.art.br/portal/imprensa/bancodenoticias.aspx?chave=166

  • Melanie Macfarlane says:

    Such sad, terrible news. I worked with Frank Shipway twice when singing with the London Symphony Chorus, on Verdi’s Requiem and Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius. I always felt inspired by his original ideas and the creative ways that he encouraged us to meet them (and his gentle insistence that we did!). Like Robert Garbolinski I remember how on the Turin tour he arranged for a local restaurant to open as we finished performing late. What a lovely, kind and interesting man. My thoughts and condolences to his family.

  • David says:

    I was a fairly average violinist who had the good fortune to get a place in the 2nd Violins in the Forest Philharmonic at the end of the 70s having been an avid attendee at their concerts throughout the 70s. Many memorable moments for me including a fabulous Rachmaninov night at the RFH with Chura Cherrkassky playing the Paganini Variations and a very memorable rendition of Tchaikovsky’s 6th at the Walthamstow Assembly Hall. Frank would occasionally single out a player for some attention but it always had the desired effect of improving the result. On one occasion, Frank stopped a performance (I forget what it was) as he was unhappy with something, turned to the audience and apologised and explained that the error was entirely his fault and we started again. An extraordinary character and so sad to hear he died in this way. RIP

  • Gerald Hindes says:

    I also, as a student, took part in concerts lead by Frank. A “Damnation of Faust” in London’s Festival Hall was just superb. A great conductor- so sad he did not work more regularly in the UK with leading orchestras. Personally, II found him a lot more interesting than some of those who regularly do appear at RFH and Barbican.

  • Gary Carpenter says:

    The performance Frank Shipway stopped in Walthamstow was The Planets. A very distinct memory.

  • Ana says:

    As far as I know, Mr. Fogel has absolutely NOTHING to do with Frank Shipway coming to conduct Osesp on these last years. Wonderful cellist Johannes Gramsch, who had played for him in Belgium before and then came to Brazil to be the first cello at Osesp, was the one who arranged with the management for the maestro to come for the first time. Johannes was so sure Shipway would be perfect for the orchestra (for he would love to train it hard and to make every single detail there work beaultifuly), that he decided to ask Frank to come once the arrengements were made. Shipway was a miracle worker in orchestra training, he was so much like Karajan – his master – in that sense! He was a genius, and a very dedicated and demanding one. Plus, he was so fond of the orchestra and its musicians!!! Frank was with no doubt their biggest defender these last years, and dedicated so much of his time and energy to this. And he was truly unique in every way a person can be. He was unique as a musician, as an artist, as a conductor, as a friend, as a joker. It’s been almost a month now and I still refuse to accept that he’s gone – and like this!!! It’s a nightmare, really. Just unbelievable! Frank, my dear friend Frank, I miss you so badly!

  • Gordon Davies says:

    Obituary in The Telegraph

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/11066356/Frank-Shipway-obituary.html

    Frank Shipway, who has died aged 79 following a car accident, was a British conductor whose dynamic personality inspired his orchestral musicians to create music of a quality they had scarcely imagined; he could also be a tyrant in the mould of Herbert von Karajan, one of his mentors.

    For many years Shipway’s power base was the Forest Philharmonic Society in Walthamstow, east London. This community orchestra has an outstanding reputation and is made up of professional people — doctors, lawyers, accountants — augmented by a smattering of full-time musicians.

    Shipway, an irrepressible showman, taught the orchestra to think big, engaging top-flight soloists and arranging concerts at the Festival Hall which, to the astonishment of the critics, sold out. His unforgiving demands on the musicians drove many to new heights — his accounts of Mahler and Strauss were statesmanlike, authoritative and invigorating — while driving others away.

    He would walk offstage mid-rehearsal to calm his temper; stop a performance to glare at a cougher in the audience; and send a secretary to check on absent players. Behind his back he was known to some as “Frank von S***way”, while others suggested that the FPS emblazoned on the orchestra’s blue and gold banner above the stage stood for Frank “Pushy” Shipway.

    Alec Forshaw, in his memoir 1970s London, recalled of playing with the orchestra: “For those without thick skins the sectional rehearsals could be an unsettling experience, where [Shipway] would unerringly pick on the weak and nervous to play on their own.”
    […]
    Perhaps unsurprisingly, Shipway worked at Glyndebourne for only one season; his appearances with professional British orchestras were limited to out-of-town concerts; and Sir Colin Davis at the Royal Opera House rejected the opportunity to engage the cape-wearing maestro, arguing that Shipway would always be hindered by his “air de grandeur”.

    On one occasion the members of a Belgian orchestra went on strike in protest at Shipway’s dictatorial style. “I cannot have friends in the orchestra,” he once explained in a television documentary — adding that, for a true conductor, the orchestra had to be regarded as an opponent.

    Frank Edwin Shipway was born in Birmingham on July 9 1935. He described a miserable childhood and how his father snapped at him whenever he played a wrong note on the piano. “I loathed it,” he told the Hereford Times in 2008, when he conducted the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Malvern, where he lived, “but he stood over me with the proverbial stick and shouted.”

    He was taught piano by Ailsa Verity, whose husband paid for the Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra to accompany her star pupils. A fellow student recalled how Shipway “had an extravagant piano style. He would slam down the final chords of a big piece and sit there with his right arm swinging by his side before taking a bow.” On one occasion he reputedly broke the string of an upright piano with the strength of his performance.

    He won a piano scholarship to the Royal College of Music but, after what he described as “a certain amount of manoeuvring”, switched to conducting, taking lessons from Sir John Barbirolli and attending masterclasses with von Karajan, whose characteristics he mimicked: the black polo-necked shirt; the sweater draped over his shoulders; even, on occasions, a fake German accent that barely disguised his regional tones. At home he wore a velvet smoking jacket and puffed on a large Cuban cigar.

    He was at Glyndebourne in 1961, and two years later took over the South-West Essex Symphony Orchestra, which was soon renamed the Forest Philharmonic Society. This small ensemble, which gave occasional performances in Walthamstow Assembly Hall, soon morphed into a well-organised machine with 105 players from across the capital who, every Monday evening, made the trek to the far end of the Victoria line and beyond. “We are a non-professional orchestra run on very professional lines,” he said, adding that “we had very little money and we took some dangerous risks”.
    […]
    Those risks included performances at the Festival Hall of Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius in 1973, Berlioz’s The Damnation of Faust in 1976 and, for the Silver Jubilee year, Mahler’s Symphony of a Thousand at the Albert Hall with almost the full complement of 1,000 orchestral musicians and singers, including the Hertfordshire Chorus, which he directed from 1970 to 1977.

    Meanwhile, thanks to enlightened sponsorship from Langham Life Assurance and the benevolence of the London Borough of Waltham Forest, soloists such as Shura Cherkassky ventured to north-east London to play Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, and John Shirley-Quirk sang the The Bells by the same composer.

    In 1973 Shipway became assistant conductor to Lorin Maazel at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. In the early 1990s he founded the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI in Turin, serving as its chief conductor for four years and returning in 2004 to conduct a celebration of Carlo Maria Giulini’s 90th birthday.

    He joined the BRT Philharmonic Orchestra in Brussels in 1996, again drawing lush, romantic sounds on stage while antagonising many of the players off it. Three years later he became artistic director of the Zagreb Philharmonic in Croatia.

    Latterly he had been a regular conductor with the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra in Brazil, and the Kuopio Symphony Orchestra, in Finland, to whom he recently explained: “I’m older, more experienced and more patient”.
    […]
    Only a handful of recordings exist of Shipway conducting, of which two in particular – Mahler’s Symphony No 5 and Shostakovich’s Symphony No 10, both with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – have attracted widespread praise. His account of Strauss’s Alpine Symphony with the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra was shortlisted for the BBC Music Magazine awards this year.

    In 2009 he left Malvern to settle near Devizes, Wiltshire. Despite being in his mid-seventies, Shipway rewired the house himself, built a new kitchen and sewn his own curtains. He also threw himself into local life, joining Chirton parish council, directing the Devizes Junior Eisteddfod and enjoying long and liquid lunches, which often evolved into dinner.

    He is survived by his wife, Carmen, who was administrator of the Zagreb Philharmonic, and by a daughter from a previous marriage.

    Frank Shipway, born July 9 1935, died August 6 2014

  • Jo Towler says:

    A current member (and co-Chair) of Forest Philharmonic, I never met Frank. However, I have been told many, many stories of his time with the orchestra – some intimidating and scary; others humorous.

    We are dedicating the first concert of our 50th anniversary season to Frank on Sunday 12 October in Walthamstow Assembly Hall. He was to have been invited to the 50th celebrations next summer, and I am sorry that we will not now get to meet the man who gave Forest Philharmonic its reputation and high standard that continues to this day.

  • Hilary says:

    Thank you Jonathan for inviting him to conduct a rehearsal of WSO.
    I loved his conducting style and the way he casually draped himself over the stool! The results he got from the orchestra were amazing, just after a few minutes…..and he made it look effortless!
    I think that the forthcoming performance of ‘Enigma’ may well be the most moving and emotional one ever. RIP Maestro

  • YvonneRobertsUK says:

    I met Frank through our mutual friend, David Measham, and was encouraged by David to play for Frank in the Forest Phil’ whilst I was a violin student at the Royal College of Music. Frank became a very inspiring musical influence in my life and pushed me very hard to realise my potential as a violinist, which I am eternally grateful for. He was indeed a task master and encouraged not only me but every one with whom he worked, to realise the standards that could be achieved by hard work and to always aim to demonstrate the passion within music. I met up with Frank last summer for a very protracted lunch lasting six and a half hours, during which time I realised that his sense of the ridiculous and his mischievous ways had not abated one jot and neither had his enthusiasm for his work. We laughed so much that I ached. Such a pity that he didn’t receive the recognition in the UK that he more than deserved. I will miss him and will never forget the influence that he had on my life and I will miss knowing that he is no longer around. Goodbye my dear friend, I am so sorry that you have gone.

  • mell verity says:

    Such terribly sad news, what a shock. I have known frank since I was 3 as my mum taught him piano from the age of 13 and prepared him for his scholarship for The Royal College of Music London. It was my father that funded ‘star pupils’ to perform at the Midland institute (Frank being one of them). Can I please just point out that my mothers name was Alice Ethel Verity and not Ailsa as the Telegraph incorrectly reports. frank was very special to me and he will be missed by many x

    • Western Shipway says:

      I am Franks much younger brother. I remember the name as if it were only yesterday Mrs Verity. Your mom was highly regarded as a teacher of excellence. Some of the comments in the newspaper the Daily Telegraph were untrue and downright offensive. I am referring to the F.P.H Forest Philaramonic Orchestra banner, and rude comments made about Frank. They did no research themselves but took comments from various blogs, one of which were used by a few disgruntled pro musicians that were sacked for not being up to the job. The Telegraph refused to remove the offensive remarks from the disgruntled musicians. Hope you are well, and kind regards from Western Shipway

  • Western Shipway says:

    If anyone would like to contact me regarding Frank or indeed anything else please E: mail me at [email protected] you WCS

  • Western Shipway says:

    Hi I should like to thank you all for the nice sincere comments you have made about Frank.

    Unlike some conductors in name only in the UK, no need for hype!! no need to spend a fortune on publicity for himself!! no need for a knighthood!! What is required is experience, and he had that in abundance, and confidence, a real cool guy and good fun, hardly a dull moment, like stopping to glare at someone in the audience that was coughing too much.

    The critics that were surprised that The Dream Of Gerontius was a sell out at the Royal
    Festival Hall are obviously in the wrong job. So what are we left with in the UK? Simon Rattle:( could it really get any worse.

    Mahler’s eighth symphony, symphony of a thousand, almost the full complement of one thousand performers, at The Royal Albert Hall was really something else, never have I heard a performance by another conductor to come anywhere close to it.The climax at the end was enormous, augmented by extra brass in the balcony’s and on the stage. The sound was loud, but at the same so beautiful, I basically froze. The lump in my throat was so big, it was impossible for me to talk for a while. People were stamping their feet, shouting more!! more!! more!! Were all these people wrong? of course not, they just witnessed the very best of the best.

    Best wishes to you all Western Shipway.

    • richard rose says:

      I played under your Frank in the Hatfield Philharmonic orchestra during the seventies and have only now learned of his passing. He was a great influence on my early playing as second violinist with the likes of Audrey Brett of the BBC Symphony as our section leader. He was demanding, and great resultscame from what was basically an amatuer group, albeit with some very fine players in all sections.
      He did come down hard on some of us and one of his tricks was to react to what he was hearing and make sections play out solo desk by desk. I hated him for that! He redused one poor girl to tears one night.I remember his quirk of a pully over his shoulers and his flash Jaguar, which I took delight in blowing off with my Triumph motorcycle. God bless him.Richard Rose

      • Western Shipway says:

        I think that girl in tears is very sad, and Franks manner at times was dreadful, and certainly not my style. If you are that girl I send my sincere apologies for the way that incident must have affected you. WS.

        • Pat Hatswell says:

          Dear Western : I’ve bumped into this site by serendipitous chance – from age 15 to 25 I played viola with the Southgate Orchestral Society. In about 1957 Frank became our conductor, I think for a couple of years. I still have two end of concert photos taken in Minchenden School Hall, Southgate. We used to rehearse in the school hall of a junior school in Waterfall Lane, Southgate, down from the Cherry Tree pub.
          I recall Frank attempted to make a recording of us performing Cavalleria Rusticana. But in spite of having several ex and retired professionals in our ranks, something wasn’t good enough and proceedings were abandoned.
          Frank was dynamic following Alfredo Campoli and later followed by David Martin as our conductors. He was also ravishingly handsome and charismatic, tall and slim, always a long silk scarf about his neck. I think I recall the Jag, if it wasn’t a Jag, it was something equally sporty smart. So long ago. How much music he contributed to the world, and so sad to hear of his traumatic demise. RIP. Frank. Pat P.

  • Western Shipway says:

    Dear Pat, Thank you for your message and I have noted the contents and that you were impressed. I am pleased you found this site because one gets to know what is happening in the world of music. Frank and I didn’t always hit it off but there are some similarities in our personalities, in terms of music though we were always in concert pitch. Did you continue with your music studies? if so tell me your story.
    So once again thank for your kind words, it was a nice surprise this morning, feel free to contact me anytime Email: [email protected]

    Best regards

    Western Shipway

  • William Soley says:

    Having recently returned from overseas I was looking up old friends from the 60’s through to the nineties and only today came across the sad news of the loss of a dear friend from the seventies.
    I first met Frank Shipway when I joined the Forest Philharmonic to assist Gerry Rosen in attempting to place the orchestra onto a sound economic footing, The committee at that point were not adventurous in the repertoire, Frank, Gerry and I voted Mahler Eight for the Silver Jubilee amongst stiff opposition.
    The Royal Albert Hall trembled that night, after twenty four rehearsals, two dress rehearsals, Frank Slipway stood tall amongst his critics.
    The classical music scene has lost a great leader, I have lost a good and much respected friend and I will never forget that supreme effort with corresponding result in June 1977.
    Frank , like all great men will live for ever.
    Bill Soley

  • Jonathan Small says:

    I played in that Mahler 8, conducted, trained and fashioned in almost every respect by Frank Shipway, and remember it very well. It was probably the finest performance of the work ever seen at the Albert Hall, certainly one of the largest. The children’s choir alone was 250 voices, and I have a photo showing the main choir seats full right up way beyond the organ pipes. A star-studded cast of course, including many of Frank’s favourites at the time: Anna Reynolds, John Mitchinson and John Shirley-Quirk among them. I once asked Frank how he felt when he turned to conduct the performance, and he did confess to a split second’s self-consciousness. Then he said he threw himself into the famous opening, and all was well.

    I’ve played in performances of the Eighth on occasion since, notably on tour in Spain in the 1990s, and several times at Liverpool Cathedral. While good, none measures up to Frank’s performance and I very much doubt that one ever will, for me at least.

    It was an honour to have been there.

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