The Organ

David Gedge: More from a Country Cathedral Organist

David Gedge: More from a Country Cathedral Organist
Gomer Press. Available from the author, at Bridgend House, 24, Bridge Street, Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire, SA17 4UU; tel: 01554-890646
ISBN 978-0-95585-960-1
£12.50 (+ £2 p&p)

In issue 335 of this magazine I reviewed David Gedge’s memoirs to 1978 and earnestly hoped that there would be a second volume bringing the experiences of the long serving organist of Brecon Cathedral and his wife up to the present time. My wish has been granted, and this companion text is a worthy complement to the earlier one. Like the first volume, I could not put the book down, for David Gedge has a wonderful writing style: authoritative yet personal; chatty yet never rambling. Whether or not you are interested in organ or choral music, or the Anglican cathedral set-up, this book is a wonderful read, not least as a social and cultural commentary on the times and events that it describes, with many references to what was going on in British society at the time, whether it be the Falklands War or the break-up of Princess Anne’s marriage.

Much has changed even since 1978, and there are a number of sadnesses as one reads of the demise of old traditions within church music especially, partly because of the dreaded ‘health and safety’ and partly because of antagonisms from the clergy. Indeed, David Gedge has had to smile through much opposition to his aspirations for church and cathedral music in general and at his beloved Brecon in particular. How silly, when church music can be such a force for good, including, as the author points out, in bringing culture and education to children from poorer backgrounds. But some of David’s bosses didn’t see it like that. All power to him and Hazel for sticking to their task, however hard it might have seemed at times. They have been rewarded though, both formally and informally, and are clearly loved and respected by so very many people. It is good, then, that this book preserves for all time their work and achievements: and who knows, there may even be a third volume!