Popular lecturer dies

Popular lecturer dies


norman lebrecht

April 16, 2018

The pre-concert and tour lecturer Roderick Swanston died last Thursday.

A benign character, Roddy was never at a loss for an illuminating word.


  • Caroline Zoob (Simcoe-Gerson) says:

    Professor Roddy Swanston’s lectures were one of the highlights of my 3 undergraduate years at the RCM. Lecturing to everyone on the ARCM performer’s course, he reeled us in with wit and humour and then delivered lectures of such depth and erudition that I cannot believe they are not sealed in the memories of all who attended them.

    • Nakako Watanabe says:

      I am devastated by the great loss of the most prolific lecturer I ever came across in my life.
      MCS Young Artists has been very lucky to have him as the main commentator for various events including our Haydn Series, Opera Series and the Legend Series in which he thrilled the attendees with his interesting lively talk and there were more to come.
      His charming but very original character and his incredibly sharp wit combined with his deep knowledge is irreplaceable will be deeply missed.
      Our profound gratitude and respect to Prof. Swanston.
      MCS Young Artists
      Nakako Watanabe

  • Garry Humphreys says:

    I’m shocked, to say the least, to hear of Roddy’s death. Larger than life in every respect, he was a splendid fellow and a superb musician whom I’ve known in various guises from the 1970s/80s, probably originally via St Vedast’s, Foster Lane, when, with Donald Storer (a two-man choir!), I regularly sang there and Roddy often played the organ. I do hope he will be suitably commemorated.

  • Gordon Drury says:

    Roderick was a popular lecturer at Dillington House in Somerset where his humour, erudition and friendliness will be much missed. He was always able to add new aspects to ordinary subjects and to enthuse his students. His last course there was in February this year on William Byrd and was greatly enjoyed by his band of loyal followers.

  • Clare Ford-Wille says:

    I have only just heard of this very sad news. I worked together with Roddy over many years for the Extra Mural Department of London University, then after that for Birkbeck. He was an extraordinary illuminating lecturer and someone who was enormous fun to work with too.

  • Pauline Greene says:

    I too worked with Roddy for many years at Birkbeck, and at the Westonbirt Summer School. I am deeply saddened by his sudden death, and also sad that Birkbeck was not able to be represented at his funeral – the news has been slow to spread. I am hoping to hold a Birkbeck gathering in his memory, for former colleagues and students, who gained so much from his knowledge and the ebullient way in which he taught.

  • Thomas More Hagger says:

    I am very saddened to learn of the death of this wonderful man, brilliant musician and outstanding lecturer. It is a great shame that those of us who studied under him at University of London/Birkbeck College were not notified. I hope to learn of the Birkbeck gathering from Pauline, and to attend the memorial service at Southwark Cathedral. What a loss for so many peole!

  • Pauline Greene says:

    I am in the process of organising the Birkbeck celebration of Roddy’s work with us and will post details here as soon as a venue is fixed; potential dates are September 21st or 28th at 6.30pm. You are welcome to contact me directly at p.greene@bbk.ac.uk. The Southwark Cathedral service, being organised by his family, is at 11am on Tuesday October 30th.

  • Joy Ottway says:

    I am saddened to learn of Roddy’s death. It was both a pleasure and a learning curve to travel with him on Martin Randall Travel cruises. A wonderful lecturer, made great music, the perfect dinner companion . The world is a duller place without him.

  • Pauline Greene says:

    The Birkbeck celebration of Roddy’s work will be from 6.30-8.30 on Friday September 21st. on Birkbeck premises. Anyone who came in contact with him through the University of London Extra-Mural Department (latterly, Birkbeck) would be most welcome. If you would like to come, could I ask you please to contact me at p.greene@bbk.ac.uk so that I can send you full details.

  • Michael Wenham says:

    I am shocked to learn so late of my dear friend’s death. I first met him at Pembroke, Cambridge, and learned so much from him over the years. He composed and played the orgen for our wedding. I was privileged to know him. May he rest in peace.

  • Pauline Greene says:

    There will be a thanksgiving service to celebrate the life of Roderick Swanston, organised by his family, at Southwark Cathedral on Tuesday October 30th at 11am. All are welcome. Please register your attendance via this link

    If you have any queries about the service, please contact Jo Swanston

  • Niklas says:

    Roddy’s thanksgiving service at Southwark Cathedral on Tuesday 30th October at 11am with a reception afterwards.