Returning a maestro and his music to the people

Derek James reports on a campaign for the work of talented musician William Busch to be given the recognition it deserves.

In a bleak mid-winter day in 1945, a pianist and composer staggered back from a nursing home where he had visited his wife and their newly-born daughter.

After the walk, from Ilfracombe to Woolacombe, which included crossing a cliff-top path made dangerous by snow, he arrived home exhausted, suffering deep hypothermia.

No ambulance or doctor could reach the house and he died.

He was William Busch, at that time well known in musical circles, and at 43, facing a future which promised reward for all his years of training, performing and composition.

In 1989, John Amis devoted a programme to him in his BBC series Forgotten Reputations, but William does remain largely forgotten.

But now his daughter, Julia Edgeley, who lives in Norwich's Golden Triangle and uses her maiden name Busch in public activities, is campaigning to return the man and his music to the prominence it so richly deserves.

Most Read

This is a man whose cello concerto was played in November 1942 at a Promenade concert conducted by Sir Adrian Boult; a man whose songs in later years were recorded by Sir Peter Pears and Dame Janet Baker. And a man whom the singer Sinclair Logan said: 'Wrote a new page in the history of song.'

Julia, who has two daughters and four grandchildren, says she was prompted to seek a renewal of recognition for her father when she was a student at the UEA taking a degree in English literature.

It was then that William's diaries came to her after the death of her mother.

'It was not until I started to read them that I realised he had achieved a measure of fame,' she said.

'My mother never talked about him. 'He was a musician and a lovely man' was all she would say. There was no doubt that he was the love of her life.'

Julia has an older brother, Nicholas, who became the principal horn player of the London Philharmonic Orchestra as well as its chairman for 20 years. Her own artistic talents have taken her to flamenco dancing, acting (she is a member of both the Maddermarket and Sewell Barn theatre companies) and to writing. This talent is being used now as she works on the biography of her father.

She has already placed his music in safe keeping by having his original manuscripts accepted by the British Library, which takes in works of national importance or those which are useful for research. She has also given copies of all his published work to the Royal Academy of Music.

She said: 'My great wish is to hear his cello concerto played at another promenade concert.'