Amsterdam’s English organist dies of Covid, aged 69

Amsterdam’s English organist dies of Covid, aged 69


norman lebrecht

December 04, 2020

The organist and conductor Michael Hedley, resident at Amsterdam’s Sint-Nicolaasbasiliek for the past twenty years, died yesterday, two weeks after being diagnosed with Covid-19.

An organist in his teens in Newcastle, he studied at the Guildhall with Nicholas Danby and moved in 1978 to the Netherlands, where he was regarded as one of the country’s foremost church musicians.


  • John Borstlap says:

    Terrible story. Alas, Amsterdam is a corona hotbed, and scientific information about airborne transmission is ignored in Holland.

    • Hayne says:

      To paraphrase Joe Biden, “Come on man, show us the science, show us the science.”
      Well here’s the latest peer reviewed Danish study (which BTW, is being censored in most media, I wonder why?)

      Masks don’t do squat.

      • John Borstlap says:

        “Thus, these findings do not provide data on the effectiveness of widespread mask wearing in the community in reducing SARS-CoV-2 infections.” Airborne transmission was not investigated in this research project. So, logically, mask wearing does not make much difference if ventilation is ignored.

        • Hayne says:

          “Our result suggest that the recommendation to wear a surgical mask when outside the home among others did not reduce, at conventional levels of statistical significance, the incidence of SARS-CoV-2 in masks wearers in a setting where social distancing and other public health measures were in effect, mask recommendations were not among those measures, and community use of masks was uncommon.”
          The Danish doctors are upset that the Lancet, New England Journal of Medicine and the JAMA refuse to publish their study.
          The Lancet published the fake hydroxychloroquine story for God’s sake. My opinion is this is political.

        • Hayne says:

          CDC study in July where more that 85% of study group either “always” or “often” wore their masks at least 2 weeks before their being infected with covid.

        • Hayne says:

          I am not against you wearing a mask if it makes you feel better. Don’t force me to wear one. I’m much more concerned with the totalitarianism happening right now.

          Britain has refused to say the vaccine won’t be mandatory. Where one works at, where one travels to, where one lives, etc. may well be controlled by the state by edicts. A lot of protests are occurring because people are fed up. It will only spread.

          • John Borstlap says:

            My understanding after reading quite some mask stuff by scientific papers is that the usual paper masks do indeed stop transmission of the bigger droplets into both directions, but not the micro droplets (aerosols). This means, that masks do make a difference and that not wearing a mask in public spaces like shops, is in fact anti-social behavior which may put the health of other people at risk. So, mask prescription is a collective protection measure that should be obeyed, as simple as that. It is a very minor ‘sacrifice’ to make if this reduces risks. Freedom does not mean the right to possibly infect others.

          • William Safford says:

            I agree. Masks help. People should wear them. Period.

            The anti-maskers are misusing the word “freedom.”

            You and I and everyone should have the freedom to live our lives untainted by their aerosolized infectious exhalations.

            There is the expression: “Your freedom to swing your fist ends where my face begins.” Well, their “freedom” to breathe and exhale in communal spaces ends when it infects and possibly kills the rest of us.

            There is no perfect way to make everyone safe in a communal environment, but masks help reduce the rate of transmission.

            With cases skyrocketing around the world, this has become even more important.

            Perhaps if someone had worn a mask, Mr. Hedley would still be alive. Perhaps not. We will probably never know for sure. But it is plausible.

      • Peter San Diego says:

        Isolation certainly works much better than masks. People aren’t doing that enough, either.

        • John Borstlap says:

          How to get the entire population of the planet so far that they stay indoors for 2 weeks? That would kill-off the virus. But it is impossible. And then, what about the people who don’t have an ‘indoors’? They have to be shoved into cells. It’s too difficult.

          • William Safford says:

            I agree.

            What we can do, is to take steps to slow down the rate of transmission, until enough of the population is vaccinated to thwart the spread of the pandemic.

            Some places are doing a better job of it than others. At the Federal level, the U.S. government has done an abysmal job of this, in large part because of the Orange Enemy of the People’s refusal to take the pandemic seriously. At the state and local level, some places have done a better job than others.

            Most other countries have done a better job than the U.S. This, alas, is an example of American exceptionalism–we’ve done exceptionally poorly in this regard.

      • William says:

        H: I suggest a more careful approach to this study and an understanding of the underlying scientific principles; it does not reach quite the conclusions your partial (in both senses) reading does.

      • Genius Repairman says:

        I come from Melbourne and we entered a second wave at roughly the same time with Europe. In fact we were getting about the same case numbers as Austria per day. We went into a severe lockdown and added compulsory mask wearing at the end of July. By the end of October we had 0 covid cases and to date still have 0. Did the mask wearing make a difference? Looking at the speed that covid numbers came down in Melbourne I would say that masks likely help slow down infection rates when worn by the vast majority. They certainly didn’t hurt.

        • John Borstlap says:

          Agreed. According to studies, there are three routes of transmission and all dependent upon local situations and human behavior: 1) droplets via speaking; 2) via touching and surfaces; 3) via the air through microdroplets (aerosols). Nr 2 seems to be the least infective though. Also the climate is important: warm dry weather dries-out the micro droplets with which the virus travels through the air. Maybe the weather was a factor in Melbourne.

      • William Safford says:

        Please stop lying about COVID.

  • Corkee says:

    I was a student alongside Michael in the late 1960s and remember him as a congenial, enthusiastic and talented musician. Taken too soon, along with so many others, by this wretched Covid19. RIP, Michael.

    • Pauline Stokes says:

      Do you l know if Michael was Organist and Choirmaster at Whitchurch, Shropshire, GB in the 70’s????

      • Patricia Williams says:

        I have known Michael for 50years and am still in touch with his wife,Colleen, and yes I am sure I remember him working in Shropshire for a while early on. PW

  • William says:

    I too was a fellow student and he played for our wedding; I so agree with all you say. RIP Michael

  • Garry Humphreys says:

    Michael was a superb organist and a great character whom I knew and worked with during and after his time at the GSM. His organ playing and his wonderful choir at the St Nicolas Basilica in Amsterdam can be heard on YouTube. RIP, dear friend, and love and condolences to Colleen.

    • Tom Emlyn Willliams says:

      As well as his organ playing which was of the highest quality, Michael had the ability to make fine choral music with singers of varying abilities. During my time in Amsterdam with the Dutch Radio Choir, I was welcomed with both his regular choirs, one amateur and the other semi-pro, first in the Boomkerk and then in the Nicolaaskerk. To get good results from people of great ability is not that difficult but to get consistently high standards from the not so gifted takes something special! RIP, dear Michael.

  • Patricia Williams says:

    Please will people get off their Corona hobbyhorse and show a little respect for someone who was an exceptional musician, a brilliant organist and conductor and a much-loved friend.

    • Hayne says:

      I apologize. You are right.

    • William Safford says:

      We honor his life by contradicting the misinformation and disinformation about COVID-19. If we can change the minds of those deniers, or at least persuade others not to believe the anti-maskers, perhaps we can help prevent the death of another beloved colleague.

  • Peter Lennon says:

    Just very sad new indeed. Michael was great musician