Tragedy: Australian violist dies while out swimming

Tragedy: Australian violist dies while out swimming


norman lebrecht

December 14, 2016

We have been notified by musicians in Vienna of the death of Paul Leggett, a respected and popular viola player and teacher in Australia.

Paul, 48, was swimming in Ellery Creek Big Hole, near Alice Springs, when he apparently suffered cramp and went under. His body has not yet been recovered.

Before moving to Alice Springs, Paul played as associate principal in the opera orchestra in Melbourne.

His sister, the cellist Sarah Porter, writes: ‘I don’t know how to begin to say that my brother tragically drowned yesterday in a waterhole just outside of Alice Springs on a school excursion. I feel devastated and in shock to lose such an amazing person. I will miss our times of joking and playing music together. Please rest in peace, Paul.’

The Royal Melbourne Philharmonic has posted: ‘Last night was a shock and today has been a hard day. A sad day. A reminder that we should never take people, or life, for granted. That all of those lucky enough to have music in their lives have a profound ability to share it with others and make the world a better place, even if at times life can throw you a tough gig and things don’t always seem to go your way. That every person is put on this earth for a reason, and that we should all respect those who want to undertake that reason without fanfare or financial reward. Today we have lost a good person who just wanted every child to have the chance to share his love of music. Rest in peace Paul Leggett. Your never ending enthusiasm will be missed my many.’

Our condolences to his family and many friends the world over.


  • Fran says:

    Slipped disc is becoming an obituary page!!! As sad as it all is – I would like to look forward to reading slipped disc!

    • norman lebrecht says:

      It’s part of life… all human life is here.

      • V.Lind says:

        Quite right — but there does seem to have been an extraordinary number of recent deaths in the classical music world, largely of people who have not died of good old age.

        The year began with a lot of losses in the world of popular music (and they did not stop, but early 2016 was grim). It seems to be ending with even more in the classical music field.

        As HMQ once said of another year, 2016 is a year that few of us will look back on with undiluted pleasure.

    • John says:

      Well, you know Fran, you could just NOT read these particular posts. Perhaps the people who knew these people appreciate finding out.

  • Ben Lea says:

    Thanks Norman. Very sad news..

    • Tor Frømyhr says:

      My thanks for writing of this tragedy as well Norman. Paul was one of the few who had made the commitment to teach children in the remote regions of Australia. Alice Springs is 2-3 days drive from its neighbouring cities in the middle of one of the world’s largest deserts. A tragedy on so many levels, to his students, many of whom were on the school excursion, to the community that was privileged to have Paul teaching among them, to his many friends and colleagues and of course to his family.

  • Britcellist says:

    Although I regret having to read musician obits, I appreciate that they are noted, as most will not make the headlines. The music community is a global one, we have friends all over and it may be months or never getting the news. Definitely a sad and tragic year.

  • David Osborne says:

    Very sad, definitely lost one of the good guys there…