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My memories of John Ogdon

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Elie FM

Joined: 08 Feb 2007
Posts: 5
Location: Totnes, Devon, UK

PostPosted: Thu Feb 08, 2007 9:53 pm    Post subject: My memories of John Ogdon Reply with quote

I am a pianist of 40 years of age. When I was only 14 years old I had the great good fortune of spending some time with John Ogdon and the opportunity to share in some informal music-making with him in my home. At that time (1983) John had moved temporarily into a house in my area and was just beginning to play in concert again. It was an incredible experience for me as he had been my musical idol since I was a child and somehow the mental suffering he had endured during the 1970s made him even more special to me, showing his vulnerability and human-ness. Indeed, contrary to some people, I enjoyed his late concerts and continue to enjoy his late recordings just as much as his early work, because I can feel in contact with a true human being who has been through so much and who has so much to say. In the time I spent with him he was, in typical John Ogdon style, extraordinarily generous in giving his time and energy and having those wonderful memories will always be so special and important to me.

Around that time, in the early 1980s, I met John Ogdon's son, himself a talented pianist, and I remember on the occasion of a prom concert, he very kindly allowed me to go backstage to see his father, at a time when it was not easy for members of the public to go backstage. I attended almost all of John Ogdon's London concerts in those years, right up to the time of his death. I was deeply sad when he died - John Ogdon always and will always play a vital part in my musical development and development as a human being. I think of him very often and I will always miss him. I often think how wonderful it would have been for me to continue knowing him and sharing music with him.
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Joined: 25 Aug 2008
Posts: 3
Location: London

PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 5:33 pm    Post subject: Ogdon's influence Reply with quote

When I was a boy, my mother worked as the Ogdon's cleaner. John had not-long won the Tchaikovsky competition. I liked 'classical' music from an early age, but knowing my mother was working for a famous pianist furthered my interest. As time went on, and each birthday and Christmas came, I would get records as presents from John and Brenda. I still have those records; some autographed. An autographed picture of John hangs on my wall some forty-odd years after he gave it to me.
I can't emphasise enough the influence that man had, and still does have, on the way my taste and attitude to music has developed over the years.
I was lucky to speak to him about eighteen months before he died, at a solo concert he gave in Hounslow. He asked after my mother and seemed genuinely interested in what had been happening in the intervening years. He remembered a letter that I had written to him about his recording of the Mennin concerto, and how it was a perfect piece for his style, with its passages requiring, both, Busonian feats of strength to execute the motoric rythms, and a delicacy in the many calmer, intimate passages: 'I got your wonderful letter' he said. That moment will stay with me.
The day he died (or was it the day after?), I was at a prom, and the last piece was Edward Downes conducting Ein Heldenleben with the BBC Northern, and having come to the podium Downes said 'We want to dedicate this piece to someone who was a hero of ours: John Ogdon'. It was very moving.
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