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Jack Brymer dies

15 September 2003

Jack Brymer OBE was born in South Shields, the son of a builder, on 27 January, 1915. At a very young age, Jack Brymer got hold of his father's clarinet and over the years, with the out-of-tune and hacked-about instrument, he learned to play with no formal tuition. But this battered instrument was later to be traded in, along with his savings and some money "liberated" from the gas meter, for his first quality clarinet.

He attended Westoe Secondary School, before it joined with the Boys' High School, and once he left school he qualified as a teacher in "general subjects" and music at Goldsmiths College in London, and went on to teach at the Heath Clark School, Croydon, from 1935 to 1940. During his time in Croydon, in 1939 he married Joan Richardson, a violinist and viola player, whom he had met at Goldsmiths College.

In 1940, largely as a result of his keen interest in sports, he joined the RAF as a physical training instructor, serving for five years. But through this time he continued to play his clarinet with professional musicians. After the war he returned to teaching, and some reports recall that he taught in South Shields, at Dean Road and Cleadon Park junior schools.

At the end of the war, in July 1947, he received a surprise call from Sir Thomas Beecham inviting him to audition as principal clarinettist in the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, a post which he then held for 16 years, during which (in 1960) he was awarded an OBE. He followed this, in 1962 by joining the BBC Symphony Ochestra, and then in 1971, he moved to the London Symphony Orchestra.

Academically, he was given a Professorship at the Royal Academy of Music between 1950 and 1958, and then Professor at Kneller Hall from 1969 to 1973, and at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama from 1981.

He was heard on the radio, presenting a number of music series, including the nightly programme At Home, and in 1979 he published his autobiography, From Where I Sit.

Although he hadn't lived in South Shields for a very long time, Jack Brymer was an occasional visitor. Indeed, he paid several visits to the Grammar-Technical School for Boys where he gave recitals.

In the last years, Jack Brymer had moved to Oxted in Surrey, where he died on 15 September, 2003.

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