The Organ

David Gedge: A Country Cathedral Organist Looks Back

David Gedge: A Country Cathedral Organist Looks Back
Serendipity (First Floor, 37/39 Victoria Road, Darlington); available from the author at Garth Cottage, 29, Pendre, Brecon, LD3 9EA.
ISBN 1-84394-168-6
£12.99(+£2.50 p&p)

What a lovely book this is! David Gedge and his wife Hazel are celebrating their forty years as Organist and Assistant Organist respectively of Brecon Cathedral. This biographical study covers Gedge’s life from birth to 1978. Given the abrupt ending, one assumes – and hopes – that there will be a second volume bringing us right up to date. Gedge writes very well indeed. I found that once started, I could not put the book down. His story is a fascinating one, with much valuable detail about life and music making in the mid-20th century. I hope that in years to come those writing more scholarly histories of the period – and not just its musical aspects – will take note of what Gedge writes.

Much of what he recounts is part of a lost world. I was particularly enthralled by his descriptions of preparations for the first performances of Peter Grimes and the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II alongside the detailed descriptions of a previous generation of cathedral and collegiate organists: men such as Hubert Middleton and Sidney Campbell. What a memory and an eye for detail Gedge has! Attractively and simply produced, this book is a must for anyone interested in 20th century music making, whether or not they have an interest in the church or the organ. Roll on volume 2!