Percussion legend dies, at 72

Percussion legend dies, at 72


norman lebrecht

May 16, 2022

The death has been announced of the extraordinary timpanist and percussionist Charles Fullbrook.

Originally a player of double bass, piano and violin, Charles gravitated to percussion while at the Royal Academy of Music, becoming one of the busiest British timpanists and percussionists, playing for the RSC, Academy of Ancient Music, Arditti String Quartet, Bach Choir, Maddy Prior’s Carnival Band, The Cambridge Singers, Choir of Clare College, Cambridge, Choir of New College Oxford, the City of London Sinfonia, Collegium Musicum 90, English Baroque Soloists, English Chamber Orchestra, Ex Cathedra, His Majesty’s Sagbutts and Cornetts, The King’s Consort, The King’s Singers, London Brass, London Sinfonietta, Monteverdi Choir, New Queen’s Hall Orchestra, The Philharmonia, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, The Sixteen, Stuttgart Barockorchester, Westminster Abbey Choir and many more. He was also the go-to virtuoso on tubular bells.

His discography was equally widespread. Immensely organised and ever inventive, to address airline weight limits Charles designed his own touring fibreglass timpani, which joined his huge collection of percussion instruments. He also taught at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama and Trinity Laban, and examined at the Royal College of Music and Glasgow’s Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.


  • Robert King says:

    Not only was Charles a wonderful timpanist and percussionist – he was TKC’s principal timpanist for 20 years – but he was a much loved colleague, kind, thoughtful, loyal, incredibly well organised, modest, good company, unflappable, beautifully mannered, somehow able to source the most demanding of percussion requirements for music from across six centuries, could march himself and a line of drumming colleagues down the most awkward sets of steps whilst never missing a beat, and so much more. He was a true gentleman. Greatest of sympathy to his wife and family.

    Requiescat in pace.

    • Barry Guerrero says:

      Who votes ‘thumbs down’ on something like this. I think you should at least give an explanation, other than being a grouch.

  • Elaine Baines, CLS says:

    Your kind article doesn’t do justice to Charlie’s qualities which went far beyond the concert platform: always a gentleman, kind, funny, soft spoken, the best of company and a thoroughly oh yes we can do that kind of colleague. In my early career, as a very green concert manager, he put me right several times, unpicked mistakes I made and never once shouted ! He will be sadly missed by managements and musicians alike! Sleep well old friend x