Leading English player dies

Leading English player dies


norman lebrecht

August 28, 2022

We have been notified of the death of the outstanding recorder player Emma Murphy, a shining star on the early music circuit.

Emma died of complications resulting from Covid-19. She was a few days short of her fiftieth birthday. She leaves a husband, Alex, and two grieving children.

UPDATE: Her husband Alex Casbolt informs us that the cause of death was not Covid effects but from an illness called Systemic Scleroderma, from which she had been suffering for most of the last year..

Aside from her beautiful playing Emma was known as one of the kindest – and most impeccably good-mannered – musicians.


  • Robert King says:

    Besides her wonderful musicality – she sang soprano just as beautifully as she played the recorder – and elegantly vivacious presence on stage, Emma was one of the kindest and most thoughtful of all colleagues during the 25 years during which we worked together. Emma played dozens of concerts and recordings with TKC that make up the orchestral and chamber recorder player’s repertoire mix of countertenor duets, Brandenburgs, twinkling descants in individual movements of Vivaldi and Purcell, and suchlike. Every time, she lit up the wind section with her radiance.

    Just once her usual faultless multitasking organisation let her down. Giving Emma a lift to a chamber concert we were to play in north France later that evening, having chatted about this and that for an hour and more, as we got close to the channel tunnel check-in, I casually mentioned passports. A gasp of horror from my left: Emma had left her passport at home. A combination of taxis, train back to London, husband rushing passport to terminal, a Eurostar to Paris which fortuitously would also stop at Calais, our French manager picking her up and driving at some speed to the concert venue, time for just a couple of minutes on stage before the audience arrived (we’d covered her absence during the afternoon from the concert promoter whilst we worked out what on earth we would do if she didn’t get there in time), once on the platform Emma was completely serene.

    I still remember the enthusiastic shout at the end of the concert from one audience member who had rightly been captivated by the spirited playing (and perhaps also the glamour) of our two lady recorder players. Over the applause we heard a loud cry of “Les Oiseaux”. And, to the infinite sadness of everyone who was honoured to know her, Emma has now flown to the great recorder consort in the sky.

    Requiescat in pace.

  • Duncan says:

    My wife attended one of her Baroque courses and loved it. This is so sad and quite shocking news. Thoughts are with her family.

  • Cecily says:

    God bless you, Emma… You were so friendly and lovely.. Too young to leave us… Every recorder player will benefit from your wonderful recordings.. xx

  • soavemusica says:

    Covid has never gone away, people just had enough of it.

    I see two options that actually work.

    1. An FFP3 mask that really does protect you.

    2. Live your full life, with a small, but potentially deadly risk.

    (The merry band of politicians failed/fail in both. Special medal to Austria & Germany, which blamed/blame the pandemic on the unvaccinated, with criminal law, and “political science” before actual statistics.)

  • Steve Muir says:

    Emma was one of my closest buddies at Birmingham University, where we studied Music in the same year. She was brilliant then, and continued to shine ever brighter over the years.

    As others have commented, she was one of the kindest, loveliest, and most generous people you could ever imagine meeting. And this was projected through her performances: whether you sang or played alongside her, her graciousness and integrity were palpable.

    She had a way of hinting that you’d made a mistake that made you feel honoured to be corrected by such a musician(!), and exuded an innate understanding of a vast range of genres and styles. As a scholar she was brilliant, but again also very generous with her time and patience.

    In short, she was a uniquely special person who loved life and people, and was in turn loved by countless others whose lives she effortlessly made better. Even though we hadn’t seen one another for some time, it’s truly devastating, incomprehensible, to know that she’s gone. All the love and care in the world must be directed towards her family, whom she adored, and whose pain I simply cannot comprehend.

    Sleep peacefully, dear friend. Your memory will live on forever.

  • Janey says:

    I imagine she at least received all the vaccines and booster shots? If not, maybe she should have received more shots? 2 aren’t enough, 5 may be better.

    • Jake says:

      No, no. You can still get it no matter how many you have. This is what people don’t understand. I believe this happens if you have a family member who has it and you are repeatedly exposed. We all instantly got it once my son started school. Vaccinations and boosters simply help keep you from dying.

      • Hayne says:

        Sorry Jake but
        UKHSA statistics show 9 out of 10 covid deaths are from vaccinated people. That was in April before they stopped reporting the data.

  • Stephan says:

    I have it right now despite being vaccinated. They symptoms are pretty bad. Trust me…no one wants this. Last night I thought I was going to have to visit the ER and use a respirator.

  • Martin Richards says:

    I am very saddened to hear this shocking news. I attended several courses at Benslow that she tutored and also attended some of her concerts a few years ago. I can only echo that I found her a kind and immensely talented player and teacher who will be greatly missed.