Death of a British music scholar

Death of a British music scholar


norman lebrecht

April 12, 2020

The University of Illinois reports the death of Professor Nicholas Temperley, a British musicologist specialising mostly in music of his native land. He was 87.

He joined the Illinois musicology faculty in 1967 and twice served as its chair.

His major works are The Music of the English Parish Church (1979) and The Romantic Age: 1800–1914 (vol. 5 of Blackwell’s History of Music in Britain, 1981).  He contributed more than 100 articles to New Grove.



  • Nicholas Temperley was also the editor of the Urtext edition of Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique (Bärenreiter, Neue Berlioz Edition vol. 16), a version widely used around the globe.

  • Jerome Hoberman says:

    Temperley also made an excellent adaptation of the awkward and poor-quality original English of Haydn’s “Creation” (Peters), making it as eloquent as the German (Haydn’s idea having been that it would be a bilingual work).

  • Julian Elloway says:

    I remember from my teens Temperley’s edition of Loder’s Raymond and Agnes, produced when we ridiculed Victorian opera in the UK. But for those interested in church music and especially hymnology his work was invaluable. He was general editor of Oxford Studies in British Church Music (1986–2002). From 1982 onwards, he directed the Hymn Tune Index project (funded at first by the National Endowment for the Humanities). ‘The Hymn Tune Index: A Census of English-Language Hymn Tunes in Printed Sources from 1537 to 1820’ was published in 1998 in four large hardback volumes, and subsequently online. Add to his edition of Symphonie fantastique his English-language edition of Haydn’s Creation (Edition Peters) and subsequent book on the creation of the Creation (Cambridge UP) – plus 20 vols of ‘The London Pianoforte School 1766–1860’ and much more. A formidable editor, and ofter rediscoverer, of British music.

    • Armchair Bard says:

      Julian, thank you so much for this. I worked with NT on the EMI recording of his ‘Creation’ edition. I’ll admit I had no idea he was quite so productive.

      Anyway, good to see your name after too long; but oh, how much do I not miss Ely House…

  • Dr. Paul Rapoport says:

    My MMus thesis advisor nearly 50 years ago (on an English subject), always very knowledgeable, kind, and helpful.