We have been informed by close friends of the death of Gervase de Peyer, the foremost British clarinet player of his time. Gervase was 90.
A founder of the Melos Ensemble, with whom he recorded extensively, Gervase was principal clarinet of the London Symphony Orchestra from 1956 to 1973. He was also a founder of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and an influential teacher.
His student Thomas Piercy writes:
‘His sound – bold, colorful – was in my head since I was a teenager. I moved to NYC to study with him and continued to learn from him until the last time we spoke. He was always there to give advice and encouragement, both about music and life.
‘His personality and musicality were a great match: bigger than life, full of energy, endlessly curious. His playing was unique and almost instantly recognizable: full of charm and elegance, with a powerful technique always at the service to the music. Many composers wrote their music for him, as they knew he would bring a great life to those little black dots on the page. Playing for him, and with him, was a walk on the high-wire: endlessly exciting and thrilling; always learning and living something new.
‘It was a true honor and joy to become friends with Gervase and his dear wife Katia. So many good laughs; so many good talks about music and life. My deepest sympathies to Katia and the family.
‘Very early on in my lessons with Gervase, he told me to write something down. He said it was important.
I still have that note.
Don’t be Predictable.”‘