Lyndon Jenkins remembered

Today (Thursday 25 September) at Town Hall we said goodbye to our dear friend and colleague, Lyndon Jenkins, who sadly passed away earlier this year. Compered by Julian Lloyd Webber, the concert featured performances from a number of musicians who had a close relationship with Lyndon – Alicja Smietana, Di Xiao, Jiaxin Lloyd Webber, John Lill, Mark Bebbington, Rebeca Omordia, Signe Asmussen, Tasmin Little and John Lenehan – as well as a special recorded tribute featuring some of Lyndon’s own broadcasts, introduced by Brian Savin.

Many of Lyndon’s musical friends and associates came forward to offer their own, personal, tributes, for the concert programme, which can be seen below – along with Brian Savin’s audio clip. If you would like to share your own memories of Lyndon Jenkins, please do so using the Disqus function below, or by emailing digital@thsh.co.uk

How right it feels to be ‘toasting’ the memory of Lyndon Jenkins at Birmingham’s historic Town Hall! Arriving from Wales in the early sixties, Lyndon wasted no time in celebrating this city’s unique cultural status and he was a driving force behind the creation of its two world class concert halls. Lyndon is greatly missed not only as a rare ‘fountain of knowledge’ but as a very dear friend to both music and musicians. It is a testament to the warmth and affection in which he is held that so many wonderful musicians are giving their time and talents so generously today.
Julian Lloyd Webber

In 2003, Lyndon was the coordinator of a celebration of Danish composer Carl Nielsen in Wigmore Hall in London where I first met with him, and he embraced me and my fellow musicians with his care and genuine interest, seeing to it that our debut at this prestigious hall (in the presence of the Duchess of Gloucester, and other Danish and English dignitaries) went smoothly. This first meeting led to Lyndon promoting me to pianist and conductor Howard Shelley, with whom I then had the great pleasure of working in Birmingham Symphony Hall, with the Camerata Salzburg. Lyndon was one of the kindest, wittiest and most knowledgeable and educated people I’ve known: A true gentlemen, with a genuine interest and care for the people he met, and I’m eternally grateful to him for having believed in me and trusted my talent at a very early stage of my career!
Signe Asmussen

I knew Lyndon from his earliest days at BRMB and over the course of more than thirty years we collaborated on numerous radio and production projects. I’ll always remember Lyndon conducting in Symphony Hall at a Saga Radio concert in 2002. As the applause subsided after his first item, he surveyed the shimmering sea of silver hair that stretched in front of him and said, “I’ve often wondered what a Saga audience looked like”. Then, with a precisely-timed pause that only a conductor could judge, he quietly added, “No surprises there”. The audience responded with loud peals of laughter – and afterwards Les Ross, our breakfast presenter, paid him a compliment which Lyndon frequently recalled with great fondness: “I never realised you were funny …”.
Brian Savin, Colleague and friend

It was my good fortune to ‘inherit’ Lyndon – my first regular author – when I fetched up at Manchester Square in 1987 as EMI UK literary editor. Nonpareil as writer of sleeve notes, he was an editor’s dream: reliable, courteous and professional, engaging and deeply knowledgeable. More, he freely gave of his (alas) irreplaceable store to initiate and guide projects, to save one from grievous error, to suggest the perfect coupling, to conjure up apt illustrations. And, if he was in town, a hard day’s editing and compiling would end at the Vecchia Milano, Marylebone, where the maître d’ would greet Lyndon as an old friend and hasten to accede to his request for ‘one of your nice, creamy lasagnes’.
Richard Abram, Wanstead

Lyndon and I became colleagues when he joined Symphony Hall in 1992. My role was, and still is, to programme the non-classical concerts: I knew very little about classical music and Lyndon was very happy to ‘educate’ me. This was not done in any sense didactically, but wanting to share his obvious love for the music. I have many happy memories of sitting next to him at concerts when he would lean across to let me know ‘the big tune’ was imminent or conversely his visible flinching when he felt something wasn’t quite right! We eventually became close friends and I regarded him with great affection. It meant a huge amount to be one of the few people he felt able to confide in when he was diagnosed with his illness. I miss him a great deal.
Chris Baldock, Director of Performances, Symphony Hall

My initial memories of Lyndon go back many years – he and Sue lived opposite my formative piano teacher, Marjorie Hazlehurst. Only latterly, however, did I get to know him as a colleague and friend. His enthusiasm for British music was boundless and he encouraged me both to play and to record the piano music of John Ireland, Frank Bridge and Arnold Bax. The depth and range of his knowledge was all-encompassing and he was as generous with his practical advice and help as he was with his time.
Mark Bebbington

I met Lyndon soon after becoming CBSO Concert Manager in 1964; we ‘hit it off’ from the start, since our musical interests were similar. Lyndon was researching the 1930s and ‘40s, when Leslie Heward and George Weldon were the orchestra’s conductors. He was collecting material for a book about Howard (sadly, he never got around to writing it) but in 1983 we did write a little book together, about Weldon’s CBO recordings for Columbia: The Birmingham 78s. Later, in 2009 (by which time I was CBSO Archivist), we co-hosted an afternoon session marking Town Hall’s 175th Anniversary. From time to time, we would meet up for lunch, at Symphony Hall or at ‘The Rep’ – I miss his humour and his perceptive comments constantly.
Beresford King-Smith


Lyndon Jenkins with Beresford King-Smith

I was an appreciative listener to Mainly for Pleasure before I came back to Birmingham in 1982, so it was with great pleasure that I got to know Lyndon in person. From then on we were friends, with my involvement both with the National Exhibition Centre as well as with the CBSO and then on to Symphony Hall. Never have I known anyone with a wider general knowledge of music, nor with such a fund of stories – many of them delightfully scurrilous. He enlivened every encounter and defused many a more serious moment with his wit and reminiscences.
Tom Caulcott, Chief Executive, City of Birmingham, 1982-1988

Lyndon had a long association with the Federation of Recorded Music Societies as a guest speaker at Federation events, including our annual Music Weekend, when he would keep his audience enthralled with anecdotes on all aspects of music and musicians. I came to know him on a personal level after he became our President in 2009. As President he was a great help to Federation societies and was prepared to travel widely to visit them. He also introduced several of today’s performers to us as guests at our events. We mourn his passing but memories live on. Thank you, Lyndon.
Allan Child, Acting Chairman, Federation of Recorded Music Societies

Lyndon and I knew each other for 40 years, beginning as colleagues on the review pages of The Birmingham Post and ending with a close collaboration on my book, Symphony Hall: A Dream Realised. I last saw him at a launch event for the book early this year. Lyndon’s knowledge of music, and his passion for the music he loved, always commanded respect. One passion we shared was the music of Carl Nielsen, the centrepiece of the extraordinary event Discover Denmark, the largest festival of Danish music ever held outside Denmark, which he played a leading role in devising at Symphony Hall in 2001. During the preparation of the Symphony Hall book Lyndon proved a priceless sounding board and a supportive but challenging colleague. He was a fund of knowledge and a champion of cultural standards, and such people are increasingly difficult to find.
Terry Grimley, Arts Editor, Birmingham Post 1979-2009

Lyndon Jenkins had an in-depth knowledge of Danish music, in particular Carl Nielsen’s. From 1996 he was instrumental in including Danish music as well as inviting Danish musicians to the ‘International Concert Season’ at Symphony Hall and organising the ‘Discover Denmark’ music festival in Birmingham in 2001. He edited a series of historical recordings of Carl Nielsen’s music from 1995–2006 and frequently broadcast on the topic in both Danish and UK media. In 2006 he received the Order of the Knight of Dannebrog for his long standing commitment to Danish music in the UK.
Claus Grube, Ambassador, Embassy of Denmark


In 2002 Lyndon introduced a concert to mark HM The Queen’s golden jubilee

The wonderful Lyndon Jenkins held court in the Symphony Hall Green Room for 22 years. One of the great treats of visiting Symphony Hall was to be welcomed by Lyndon in his inimitable, charming fashion and then being regaled by story after story which seemed newly minted for each occasion. There are few people in whose company I have spent more time laughing. To meet Lyndon for the first time was like opening your first bottle of champagne. I miss him tremendously as he is quite irreplaceable.
Andrew Jamieson, Head of UK Touring, IMG Artists

I don’t remember when I first met Lyndon, but almost certainly it was at a concert. In Birmingham, I suppose. But he was everywhere and he always greeted colleagues – everyone, if it comes to that – with an old world courtesy and charm. And soon jokes would be flying, for Lyndon had a quicksilver sense of humour and a store of anecdotes. He also had a serious side, as is apparent from his excellent book about Delius. We both enjoyed our double act – he called us ‘the two dinosaurs’ – at the annual meeting of the recorded music societies, when a bottle of red wine helped to loosen our memories. We planned something like it for this year (‘These you have loathed’). But in a way I’m glad – and sad – that it remained a ‘one off’. Thanks for the memories.
Michael Kennedy

Together with many others, I was very fortunate to know Lyndon. He was a very personable and caring soul – highly perceptive and intelligent yet, together with an extraordinary knowledge of music, he possessed an intense and highly infectious sense of humour. He was always wonderful and uplifting company and never knew the meaning of self pity or any negative approach. He wished to improve the lot of others at all times and remained a loyal and very valued friend over many years. The tearful laughter we shared I shall greatly miss as I shall his deeper views on life. A marvellous man!
John Lill

When I first met Lyndon I was nervous: I knew that he was one of Julian’s oldest friends and I knew that he had quite a fearsome reputation as a music critic! I need not have worried for he was lovely and welcoming from the start – of course I HAD mentioned I that loved Delius during our first conversation!
Jiaxin Lloyd Webber

I met Lyndon Jenkins in 2009 when I won the Delius Prize at Birmingham Conservatoire. He was in the audience and after the results were announced he came to talk to me. He became an invaluable friend and great supporter of my work; a man of extreme generosity to young musicians whom he helped and guided throughout his life. On February 25th, 2014 he wrote: “Dear Rebeca, I should really like to hear you play Liszt 1 (in Romania) – you have the power and the delicacy for it – so if you have a spare empty suitcase you might like to take me with you…” He shall be greatly missed.
Rebeca Omordia

Lyndon was always supportive of any worthwhile enterprise that people were involved in and his friendly greeting of both the important and the unimportant was a vital part of making Symphony Hall the wonderful place that it is. I seem to have known him forever through my English music enthusiasms and in 2001, Gerald Finzi’s centenary year, asked him to chair the ‘Finzi Forum’ at our first Ludlow Weekend of English Song. This he did with his usual smoothness and in the process gave such diverse characters as Judith Bingham, Stephen Banfield, Michael Kennedy and Andrew Burn an equal share of the limelight.
Jim Page, Finzi Friends, Making Music West Midlands & Chamber Music Plus


Lyndon in a familiar pose!
Photo Marc Kirsten

My wife and I enjoyed a mutual friendship and music association with Lyndon for many years and endorse what has been said of his great and active contribution as President of the FRMS. We are glad to have also known the private man behind the jovial, exuberant public persona who delighted audiences with his rapier (but never hurtful) sharp wit. He was one of the kindest and thoughtful of men, always considerate of others and it was typical that, less than two weeks before he died, he sent me a shakily-written birthday letter containing not only personal thoughts but also those concerning the future of the FRMS. We miss him greatly but are grateful for the memories he has left us.
Roderick Shaw, Vice-President, FRMS

I remember Lyndon as a charming and erudite man who wore his considerable talents lightly. His voice exuded warmth, quick wit and humour. His knowledge of music and musicians was encyclopaedic, and his long experience of both the serious and the more farcical happenings in their world made for illuminating and dynamic conversations. His involvement, when you worked with him, was so clearly driven by enthusiasm and passion that it infected all around. One of those precious individuals in the Arts who understood how to balance the practicalities and economics of concert-giving without threatening artistic standards, I mourn his passing deeply.
Howard Shelley

There are very few people in the world who are genuinely passionate about real music and art. Lyndon was one of those very few. His love for it was inspiring even to us – performers. He was one of the first to introduce me to the English musical stage and immediately became a good friend. I missing him a great deal, but he will always live in my thoughts and memory.
Alicja Smietana

Lyndon Jenkins was one of those delightful individuals who made our visits to Birmingham that much more special. He had an encyclopaedic knowledge of the repertoire including many highways and byways which subsequently enriched many concert programmes. His love and enthusiasm for the music of Delius was well known and his indefatigable championing of many lesser known English composers will be sorely missed. Lyndon always seemed to me to be a vibrant link with Great Britain’s wonderful recording legacy of the 50’s and 60’s in which the Philharmonia Orchestra played a central role. We will miss his cheerful presence in the Green Room of Symphony Hall but are confident that his great expertise and knowledge will be present in Symphony Hall concert programmes in the years to come.
David Whelton, Managing Director, Philharmonia Orchestra

Lyndon was a great writer, musician, friend and mentor to many young artists. Much of my achievement can be attributed to his kind support and advice and I know that many others will feel the same. Those aspiring artists that follow will be at a disadvantage without his knowledge but anyone that met him will know that there was more to Lyndon Jenkins than his encyclopaedic knowledge. Lyndon was also an incredible character and the very essence of THSH. Anyone who enjoyed the good fortune to share a social event will know he lit up the room and had a special talent for making those around him feel at home. It is to our great loss that each time we walk into THSH his wit, charisma and sense of humour will be forever absent but, for me, these historic buildings will always echo with the memory of his warm, sophisticated and occasionally cheeky charm.
Di Xiao

I have known and worked with Lyndon since the Discover Denmark Festival in Birmingham and all the way until his much too early death, both in my time as a minister counsellor at the Danish Embassy in London and later upon my return to Denmark. What began as a business relationship over the years developed into a warm friendship. His love of Danish music and indeed of Denmark was infectious, ‘my adopted country’, as he called it. It was for me therefore a great pleasure that I managed to recommend Lyndon for a Danish knighthood and that this came to be. How well do I remember that lovely afternoon at the Embassy where the ambassador bestowed the honour upon Lyndon and his delight and pride at receiving it. He richly deserved it. It is a privilege to have known a man with such knowledge, charm and love of music and life, and as such I shall remember him.
Søren Dyssegaard, *Minister-Counsellor


At a Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra concert in 2005 with Jacob Soelberg, violinist Baiba Skride and conductor Giordano Bellincampi
Photo David Warren Picture Team

Lyndon and I were colleagues for decades, and I was full of admiration for his encyclopaedic knowledge of British music and performers. Conversations with him were always illuminating and rewarding, and his waspish sense of humour would invariably strike sparks!
Christopher Morley, Chief music critic, Birmingham Post

I remember meeting Lyndon on my first visit to Symphony Hall in the late 1990s. Though the building was a few years old by then, his enthusiasm for it was in no way diminished; he took time to show me around, finally leading me into the auditorium with a theatrical flourish, whispering and clapping to show off the celebrated acoustic. His warm, rich voice is the thing I remember about him the most; he was a natural broadcaster who had an easy gift for conveying his passion and knowledge to the listening audience. And what an advocate for music in Birmingham.
Petroc Trelawny, Presents the Breakfast Show on Radio 3 and has introduced many live broadcasts from Symphony Hall

Lyndon was a friend and supporter of the Classical Music Society for several years, becoming Vice President in 1994, then President in 2009. He gave regular music programmes that were much anticipated by members on account of his relaxed and entertaining style of presentation, liberally laced with anecdotes about the great and the good in the world of music. We shall treasure our last moments in his company at our Anniversary luncheon in February. He raised many smiles with his characteristic chat and musical jokes. He had borne his illness with much dignity and determination. He will be greatly missed and remembered with much admiration, respect and affection.
Graham Kiteley, Chairman, Classical Music Society, Kidderminster

I have special cause to remember Lyndon’s kindness when he telephoned me in April to wish me well as I prepared, nervously, for my debut music presentation for the Classical Music Society. Despite his obvious ill-health, he apologised for the fact that he could not be there and assured me “you will be fine… remember, they are all your friends”. He even told me a joke….”A man went into the music section of a bookshop asking for a book on ‘Delias’. The assistant said the he needed to go to the gardening department!” After such an effort from a true gentleman, how could I fail?
Diana Kiteley

I first encountered Lyndon many years ago at a Society weekend where he gave us a presentation on the approach of various conductors to performances of Delius. In the 80s, I was one of six Birmingham businessmen who came together with the objective of providing the city with concerts of smaller scale works. Lyndon provided us with invaluable programming suggestions and contacts for likely performers and we offered John Lill, John Ogdon, Julian Lloyd Webber, Nigel Kennedy, The Salomon Quartet and many more. I served under Lyndon on the committee of the Delius Society and he was a wonderful chairman – finding the perfect match between being business-like and enjoying ourselves. They were happy times. Lyndon was a wonderful presenter with a keen wit and tremendously good company. I only ever disagreed with him on one point – his conviction that Richard Strauss was a far greater composer than Mahler!
Michael Green, Former Vice Chair, Delius Society


Michael Green, Bernard Jones and Lyndon Jenkins organised a series of concerts in Birmingham over several years, with Julian Lloyd Webber one of the performers

Lyndon’s passing is an enormous loss to our ‘business’. And by that I don’t mean only in Birmingham but in the wider musical world – nationally and internationally. There were few to equal his vast knowledge, keen critical perception and persuasive endorsement of music and artists in whom he believed – a hugely erudite writer and lecturer on the whole gamut of the classical repertoire. He accompanied the CBSO on one of its early tours in 1980 for the Birmingham Post and was always good, collegial company whilst maintaining a professional sense of distance in his role as critic. It’s certain that his colleagues in Birmingham will miss his advice and guidance – and visitors to Birmingham concerts will be sorry not to be greeted by his welcome with latest news, good and bad, about the ‘scene’. He helped secure the foundations for Birmingham’s musical life as second to none in the country.
Edward Smith, Chief Executive CBSO 1978-1999

Having the privilege to co-operate with Lyndon Jenkins on Birmingham’s ‘Discover Denmark’ Festival in 2001 I knew I was going to meet a true legend. To discover Lyndon as a hardcore Carl Nielsen expert was however a wonderful surprise – and a challenge! Lyndon loved and knew more about Carl Nielsen’s music, than most Danes. No one but him would have the idea of presenting three of Nielsen’s last compositions Commotio for organ, Three Motets for choir a capella and Three piano pieces at the same concert in Birmingham Symphony Hall. Lyndon did, and it was unforgettable. Denmark owes Lyndon Jenkins great respect for his invaluable efforts towards Carl Nielsen’s music in Great Britain. May his memory never fade.
Jens Rossel, Project coordinator for Danish Music Information Centre, 1994-2003

Lyndon’s last CRQ contribution was his article on Sir Malcolm Sargent in the Spring issue. It was a typically meticulous and immaculately presented piece of work. Lyndon was always a complete professional. He was a consummate performer in front of the microphone, with an easy, unruffled, relaxed style even in the tightest of live broadcasting situations, and his many documentary programmes showed a deep knowledge of many subjects. As a young man he had himself pursued the art of conducting (he held the baton in his left hand), and he sought and received advice from Sir Malcolm Sargent. In one special concert he conducted the CBSO in Delius’s The Walk to the Paradise Garden, characteristically joking with the audience beforehand how concerned he was to be performing in the presence of his successor as the Birmingham Post’s music critic, Christopher Morley.
Alan Sanders, Publisher & Editor, Classical Recordings Quarterly

Thank you to everyone who has contributed a reminiscence of Lyndon. If you would like to add your own memory, please do so either via Disqus (found at the bottom of this webpage), or by emailing a short contribution todigital@thsh.co.uk