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Composer’s Legacy

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Categories: british composers

I cannot even guess how long it is since I wrote a blog – too busy writing for everything else but something happened this week which nudged me into scribbling a note today! I heard at the beginning of the week that a friend and colleague of mine the composer, Graham Whettam had died last Friday. I first got to know Graham in the 1980s when I was performing a series of concerts featuring British Music and one of those pieces was the Whettam Sonatina for Clarinet and Piano. There were some tempo markings in the music which I did not think made sense. As a performer, I have never been able or even tried to compose music but I have always been deeply immersed in the performing of music as a creative art. Perhaps this needs a bit more explaining – I mean that the composer envisages what they think the music should sound like but the realisation of the composition only comes to fruition when it is performed. Many composers with modern technology can indeed get a very clear picture of how it should sound but adding the individual performer is what is the final part of the composition (I suspect some composers may disagree with this!) The final bit of the jigsaw (for the peformer) is communicating the work with the audience – the ambience of the hall, the acoustic, the instruments being used and the audience will all influence that. And so it was, back in the 1980’s that I came across the work of Graham Whettam and rather than play the music at a tempo marking which for me seemed far too fast for the interpretation, I gave him a call! That call led on to me performing the Sonatina frequently from Music Clubs to the Wigmore Hall and recording it for radio 3 and this in turn led to two new commissions – Impromptu for solo clarinet and Graham whettam’s second clarinet concerto which was dedicated to me and written in memory of my sister Jennifer who had tragically died of a brain haemorrhage at the age of 33. I also performed and broadcast Graham’s first clarinet concerto as well as giving numerous performances of other arrangements of his music. As I have mentioned previously my performing career then came to an abrupt halt in 1993 when I had a road accident which stopped me performing professionally.

Hearing that Graham had died brought an era to a close but as his widow Janet said to me – he has left his music legacy for us to enjoy. Try listening to Caroline Clemmow and Anthony Goldstone in their recordings of Graham Whettam’s music for solo piano and piano duet for sale on

Geraldine Allen



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