Sir Simon Rattle mourns his teacher

Sir Simon Rattle mourns his teacher


norman lebrecht

February 02, 2018

The following message was printed in last night’s programme of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, a tribute to John Ward, the orchestra’s principal percussion for almost 30 years. John Ward died this week, aged 91.

Writing about John Ward, the problem is where to start. I am anything but unbiased; when I was a small boy he was my total hero, more than any football player, and I am sure that has not changed much over the years. He was a great teacher and one of the funniest, sweetest and most generous of men. He was of course a consummate percussionist, and I am sure his famous snare drum roll is still the ideal for generations of players. But, in fact, he played all the instruments wonderfully, in a time where one really had to play everything, and often with one or two players short of the ideal.

Anyone who saw him with Fritz Spiegl (now I am showing my age) will remember what a completely natural and brilliant clown he was, a master of gesture and graceful slapstick. He seemed to me, then and now, somehow the beating heart of the orchestra, a personality who will ever remain embedded in the walls and the memory of the Phil. I hope he realised how much he was loved and respected, and we will miss him and carry him in our hearts. Wardie, thank you….

Sir Simon Rattle



  • kaa12840 says:

    wonderful eulogy. Especially good since so many of these tributes are about the writer rather than the deceased