The LSO was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of its former Principal Trumpet, Maurice Murphy, on Thursday 28 October 2010. Our thoughts and condolences are with his wife and family.
The LSO dedicated its concert on Friday 19 November 2010 to Maurice's memory.
MAURICE HARRISON MURPHY
7 August 1935–28 October 2010
In his youth was a member of:
Henton Colliery and Crook Hall Colliery Bands
The Yorkshire Engineering and Welding Company Band
The Fairey Aviation Band, Stockport, during which time he worked as an electrician
1956-61: Solo Cornet with Black Dyke Mills Band
1974-77:Professor at the Royal Northern College of Music
1961-76: Principal Trumpet with the BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra
Joined the London Symphony Orchestra as Principal Trumpet on 9 February 1977 and retired on 3 June 2007
Awarded the MBE in the 2010 New Year's Honours List
Photo gallery and podcast
In 2007, Maurice retired from the LSO after 30 years as its Principal Trumpet. The podcast below was made to celebrate his time in the LSO, and includes interviews with Maurice's wife, family and colleagues, as well as the man himself.
If you would like to add to the tributes below from 2007, please email Comments and we will post them here.
Sir Thomas Allen
There was a time as a young student baritone when I attempted to make ends meet by singing Handel's Messiah. Over a few winters I found myself under the baton of Mr Dennis Jones singing the oratorio in Diggle near Saddleworth. The principal trumpet guesting with the Manchester Camerata was none other than punchy Maurice Murphy.
Even to me, still wet behind the ears, it was obvious that I should be grateful for such wonderful sound and flawless support in The Trumpet Shall Sound. It most certainly was then and for many years to come. I would see dear Maurice over the intervening years in rather more exalted surroundings and we would always have a warm greeting for one another due of course to both our strong Northern roots, and invariably we would hark back to the days of Diggle and Messiah.
What and amazing man and how sorry I am at his passing. Thank you Maurice for putting the down-to-earthedness where it should be and so seldom is.
John Stobbs, Crookhall Colliery Band
Maurice Murphy joined Crookhall Colliery band from Harton Colliery band in January 1951. At first He was fourth man down but within six months was promoted to assistant solo cornet and during the ensuing months was frequently required to play principle cornet at engagements due to the principle cornet having other obligations.
The finals at the Albert Hall 1951 Epic Symphony was the test piece. On the Saturday morning of the Contest the principle cornet’s lip went and Maurice was required to play principle without rehearsal. Harold Moss, Frank Wright and Denise Wright were the judges. The solo in the first movement Maurice made a slight crack on the opening note in the remarks Harold Moss quoted after a hesitant start the solo cornet proceeded and demonstrated what a fine player he is. The solo in the second movement Harold just wrote one word “Bravo” where as Frank Wright wrote the solo cornet has that golden tone which is often talked about but never heard.
Maurice R.I.P and Thanks for the memories.
During the 1970s, I was the principal oboe with the BBCNSO. To listen to Maurice was a source of delight and amazement. What trumpet playing! Plus an impish sense of humour. He often used to blow a few gentle notes into my left ear if he spotted that the urge to snooze was overtaking me, usually during an afternoon rehearsal in the Milton Hall. Like so many others, I shall not forget him.
David Willcocks, Congleton, Cheshire
My Dad, Maj George Willcocks became involved with the Brass Band scene relatively later in his career (he was 56 by then) and Maurice was a young (and I always thought a rather good looking chap ) of 23. Dad saw the obvious talent and potential in him and of course his playing as principal cornet with the then Black Dyke Mills Band was legendary even then. I still have the original recording of the BBC radio broadcast "live as it happened" of the 1959 and 1961 BB finals results and winning band playing the test piece at the Albert Hall. Scratchy as the recordings were/are they are still a lovely historic treasure and snapshot of the era. Another emotional piece was of Maurice on the test piece Carnival Suite. Dad wrote a cornet solo for him too, called Will-o-the-wisp and later titled Maurice Caprice. The delicate emotion and recognisable style that he could get from his cornet till distinquishes that it is definately and only MM playing it.
Once or twice I was lucky enough to go up to Yorkshire with my Dad when he was coaching BDMB for the National finals, I must have been about 11. Going North was so different from life in Essex, everything about it seemed different. Rehersal time was limited seeing as how the Saturday morning train from Kings Cross would only get to Leeds or Bradford later that afternoon. Rehersals would, I recall be Sunday mornings/early afternoon before the dash back to the station to get the train back to London. (Maurice was a "brisk" car driver as I remember!) But I remember the Saturday evening(s) at what must have been Maurices parent's house in Bingley, the terraced houses, atmosphere, the people/neighbours just walking in through the door, (that never happened in Essex), the warm coal fire burning, the accents, and friendly ambience, the banter and friendliness toward Dad from everyone and the bandmembers etc. and of course the dedication and commitment from the band to the music and to the task ahead in preparing for the National finals. It was memorable then for me as it still is now. Dad really took to all this and seemed to get so much out of the band.
I last met Maurice at a Brass Band recording in West Yorkshire about 17 years ago when he was guesting with a West Yorkshire band, even played the flugal horn on that occasion. A lovely chap, always charming and I believe a modest man. His memory & music will live on. I'm proud to have known him as I'm sure all members of the Lso are. ( I also like the interviews and thoughts, anecdotes etc on the respective websites that I listened to today.)
The last time we spoke to Valery Gergiev we talked long about Maurice, how we admired him!! We are Mieke Biesta ,Rotterdam Philharmonic, and my husband Alan Whitehead ex principal trumpet of the C.B.S.O in Birmingham.
I first encountered Maurice Murphy at the Miners Welfare in Blyth, Northumberland at the age of ten where he came to give a concert with Cowpen and Crofton Band. This immaculately turned out principal cornet of Black Dyke Mills band gave a performance that was spell binding, the finale was Carnival of Venice. His playing stayed with me for years to come. However some years later when I was 16 years of age I was engaged by the then Organist at Newcastle Cathedral to play second trumpet in Haydn's Nelson Mass, to my absolute astonishment Maurice turned up to play First. It was to be a defining moment in my choice of career, I have since then never stopped playing the trumpet professionally and always followed Maurice's meteoric rise to what I believe is The greatest Trumpet player this country has ever produced.
Maurice was a guest of the St.Thomas's Hospital Medical and Physical Society in the late 1970's, in the rough medical student bar of St.Thomas's House, and for 2 hours he completely captivated the hard drinking rugby playing Medical Students, with no props other than his many instruments. The atmosphere was electric, and his playing became more brilliant as the beer was consumed by himself and us students. Undoubtedly it spurred us on in our own studies, it civilised some of the more neanderthal students, and reminded us of what it is to be human. What a legacy he has left behind. Requiescat in pace servo flatus vestri trumpet.
Andy Rolfe, Foden's Band
My special memory years of Maurice was when we invited him to be a guest soloist with Consett Band some seventeen years ago. Although we had invited him I never thought the great Maurice Murphy would would accept but he did. One evening he called and thinking it was wind up told "Maurice" to stop having me on and stop ringing me. This happened another two or three times till it eventually dawned on me it was really Maurice. We laughed about and saw the funny side.
At the rehearsal he played fantastic and we went through the Arutunian perfectly. Later that evening he played the Arutunian in the first half and then 4 solos on trumpet and flugel back to back in the second half, all perfect. Great sound and dynamic range combined with a mixture of styles. Finishing the final solo of super F we played the final piece and he sat next to me where there was a slow solo. Naturally I asked if he would like to do the solo and he obliged with the perfect cornet sound, no change in mouthpiece - it was magic. Later we had a few pints together and it was such an honour. A down to earth bloke who just played the played the trumpet, it just so happened to be so much more than this.
I feel privileged to have met and worked with Maurice. He was such a humble and generous musician, always supportive to his colleagues and always interested in others. The beauty, strength and quality of his sound will never be forgotten. I will miss him.
Great player, great company and a great comrade. Cheers Maurice!
In 1972/1973 my dear old friend trumpet player Bill Kitchen gave me most of his freelance work around Manchester when he joined the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. I found myself sitting next to Maurice for many week end concerts-what a privilege! It was mainly a Yorkshire/Lancashire tour with Eric Robinson (Melodies for You). Such an inspiration to hear trumpet playing sound so easy. Listen to his solos with DAF band - so ........... everything! Maurice' s Brandenburg with the Halle in about '72 in the Freetrade Hall is also a memory never to be forgotten. A terrific man loved by so many people.
Jim Gray, Brass Band of Battle Creek
The Brass Band of Battle had the privilege of having Maurice perform with us on our Florida tour in 2008. We were also fortunate to have Shirley along with us as well as Richard Evans as conductor. John Williams gave permission allowing the band to perform Steve Sykes arrangement of his movie tunes. Of course this featured Maurice on music from "Superman", "Raiders" and "Star Wars". What a thrill it was to hear Maurice play, it instantly put us back into movie theaters some 30 years ago to re-live when we first heard the opening strains of "Star Wars". His sound is distinctive, pure and beautiful. I remember asking him on the tour bus if he had ever heard the beautiful trumpet solo from the movie "We Were Soldiers". Maurice thought for a while and said he could not recall the piece, then 5 minutes later came up to me and said, "that was me!" To me that solo sounds like one of God'a angels playing, then again, it was Maurice!
Ian Smith, Head of Music, Creative Scotland
Anyone who grew up in the brass band tradition and then went on to become a professional brass player will remember one name that was synonymous with both and at the very highest level and that was Maurice Murphy. As co-principal horn in the SNO, I had the great fortune to work with the LSO many times as a deputy and hearing Maurice play at first hand was a real privilege and one that I and so many other musicians will cherish. Thank you Maurice for that inspiration.
My father Sidney Vincent was a close friend of Major GH Willcocks and as such had the chance to meet Maurice when he was Principle of Black Dyke Mills band.
When I started playing the cornet my father gave me two records of Maurice playing with the All American Bandmasters Band with The Major conducting (1960). Dad said "This is the finest cornet player you will ever hear", and to this day I still agree.
Lino P. Varano, Principal Trumpet, Brampton Lyric Opera, Great Lakes Symphony, Canada
One of the top trumpet virtuosos of the last century who was also a GREAT musician. He played the horn brilliantly but always in tune, in style, and in TASTE!!! I grew up listening to the many marvelous film scores Maurice was on and held my breath in awe at the beauty resonating from that LSO trumpet section, with Maurice leading the charge.
As I got into the Trumpet profession and eventually toured Europe, I had a few meetings and chats with him and found him to be genuinely humble, affable and quite humorous.
Thank-you for your inspiration and your tremendous legacy. Rest in peace, brother.
As a rookie arranger and MD I didn’t know whether to be exhilarated or terrified when Maurice was booked to play sopranino for a live brass band television session I had scored and was conducting.
His heroic triumphant playing was legendary, and my meagre scribbles were certainly not worthy of him. But Maurice couldn’t have been more supportive and amiable – and when the red light went on he lit up the music with a magic all of his own making.
His sense of fun and generosity of spirit, along with that legendary iconic sound make him utterly unique. And years later when I conduct orchestras throughout the world, always the trumpet section sidle up to me in the break and ask “Do you know Maurice Murphy? – he is just the best”. And indeed he is. I’m proud to have known and worked with a very great man.
At a pre-opening party in the roof garden for the opening of the Barbican, Maurice, myself, Malcolm Hall, Eric Crees and John Fletcher were playing brass quintets to entertain a huge crowd of famous people while they drank their Champagne. We'd been playing for what seemed like hours when Edward Heath and David Jacobs strolled up to the bandstand. "Sounds awfully good", Ted Heath said, with his trademark grin. "It'd sound even better if we 'ad a ******* drink", Maurice shot back at him, and we started the next number, which was as I remember a silly arrangement of William Tell. When we got to the galop I saw out of the corner of my eye, the sight I've never forgotten, and that always comes to me when I think of Maurice. There walking through the parting crowd of people was the ex Prime Minister, carrying a tray with three bottles of Cordon Rouge champagne, followed by David Jacobs and a tray with five glasses.
Maurice treated everybody the same way, and everybody loved him.
John Georgiadis, LSO Leader 1965-77
In my eyes Maurice was "Mr. LSO" from the moment he joined way back in the 70s. He epitomised all that was fantastic about the orchestra being the "leader of the pack" in an excellent and exciting brass section, and of course he was also "Mr. Star Wars". But what I shall most remember him for was his LSO introduction when we had the demanding "Also Sprach Zarathustra" to play and he hit those top C's every time with such confidence and aplomb - I was won over instantly and remained a top fan evermore!
Tony Prior, one of the Classic Rock/LSO Project team
It was a such a privilege and what great fun to have enjoyed Maurice’s talent in the LSO, especially during our Classic Rock recording and touring days.
I have been very lucky to have witnessed his brilliance and humility at very close range; he was always first in the control box to listen to playbacks on our LSO sessions. I got to know Maurice, such a lovely man, a little better when we toured Classic Rock with the LSO, and especially on our Scandinavian adventure with Richard Harvey conducting. Maurice was a star on stage, on the road, and in the bar. Maurice never failed to ask with great amusement when we were going on tour again as he so greatly enjoyed our little rock and roll diversion, and the trains, and boats, and planes for those in the know!
Last night, I explained to our young staff that the music world had lost a ‘great’ and described his amazing career as a musician, from cornet to trumpet, brass bands to great orchestras, classical, to rock, to film music, his pinnacles of achievement and recognition as principal with the Black Dyke Mills Band and the London Symphony Orchestra, and not only how privileged we are to have his towering performances on many of our own recordings going right back to the 70s, but simply to have known him.
Deepest condolences to Maurice’s family and everyone in his wider LSO, fellow musician and music and film industry family.
What a great man, he will be sorely missed.
I was Principal Horn in the LSO from 1974 to 1983, and as such was privileged to know Maurice as my colleague and friend. Before taking up the horn, I was involved in the Brass Band world as a very young euphonium player in the City of Gloucester Youth Band. I well remember hearing Maurice's stunning playing for the first time at the Royal Albert Hall, London, when he was Solo Cornet in the Black Dyke Mills Band. They won the national championship that year (I don't remember which) with an arrangement of Lalo's "Le Roi D'Ys" overture. Maurice played a muted soprano cornet solo (on his B flat cornet!) after a few bars of bass instruments' introduction, that was not only perfectly in tune, but so quiet that the whole auditorium had to strain to hear it. I became a devoted fan at that moment!
Imagine my delight and pride, many years later, at being one of the LSO players to be instrumental (pun very much intended) in persuading Maurice to accept the Principal Trumpet vacancy. We hired him as a guest player on a tour to Mexico City, and I was tasked, as a brass player on the Board of Directors, to talk him into joining us. I am naturally honoured to report that I succeeded! There were many highlights to our comradeship and working together afterward, and I simply want to add my sadness at his passing to those already expressed. He was a wonderful trumpeter, musician and human being, and my life has been enriched greatly by knowing him. I write this with deep sympathy and love for Shirley and end by saying: Thank you, Maurice!
I first met Maurice in Manchester around 1970. I was at the Palace theatre if I recall correctly with a show entitled Ambassador starring movie legend Howard Keel. I needed a dep urgently, and was given Maurice s phone number. My immediate reaction was, there's no way he's going to agree to do the show, but of course he did!
I met him at the theatre, offered him a look at the first Trumpet part which he declined, and handed him the princely sum of £5 which was the fee at the time! Needless to say, he sight read the show perfectly and no doubt made me sound like an amateur!
My next encounter with him was at the beginning of his tenure at the LSO, when I was frequently booked as a bumper. Well as we all know, Maurice never needed a a bumper, but his attitude was, it's a gig for someone, maybe he was paying me back for the Fiver!
A true genius and a wonderful human being. No words can express the loss.
Amazing bloke - amazing player. I'm so glad I met him and heard him
Your great work added so much to the music of the LSO in general and to John Williams' music in particular. May you rest in peace.
I knew Maurice for around 38 years through playing as an 'extra' in both the BBC Northern Symphony and London Symphony orchestras. Furthermore, I had the privilege of conducting him on at least one television session when I moved into media work. Without doubt, he was not only one of the greatest trumpet players in the world, but also one of the finest, most modest men I have ever known. He is utterly irreplacable and I join my many friends in the LSO in mourning his passing and offering my condolences to Shirley and the family.
Rest in peace Maurice.
Maurice lived at South Moor, that is in Stanley, County Durham. He went to the local school and joined the band, being taught by Wilf Turnbull, conductor of the local band South Moor Silver Prize Band. I knew him quite well as my dad played in the band, and I would go to the practice in the park band room. He also played for Crookhall Band and then onto Harton band. After that he moved onto bigger things. I have followed Maurice's life story and I was deeply moved to hear of his death.
He is still the best, I have heard them all over the years.
Rafael E (Ricky) Irizarry, Assistant Principal Horn, Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra
Mr Murphy's playing is indeed a substantial part of the soundtrack of my life. As a budding horn player, I had built at home a sort of altar around an 8 track tape player solely dedicated to the music of John Williams, colossally performed by the LSO.
Since then, I have lost count of the number of times I replayed the track "Flight from Peru" from "Raiders of the Lost Ark" just to enjoy his brilliant playing at the end of piece, not to mention (now consigned to my iPod) all his other magnificent contributions to the film scoring industry.
I was indeed saddened by his loss, which in a sense surpassed that of my own mother, that had taken place a couple of days before. And I went back to that same excerpt from "Raiders", and played it over and over.
A smile, and a secret tear...
On behalf of the members of the Brass Section of the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra - all confirmed admirers of Mr. Murphy's artistry - please accept our condolences and sympathy.
Steve Jeandheur, Principal trumpet, Swiss Romande Orchestra, Geneva
Maurice Murphy was an incredible inspiration to so many of us. His playing was heroic, noble, lyrical and extraordinarily exciting. He glorified the trumpet to its full potential and set a new standard. Its now simply how one imagines the instrument should be played. I've been a fan since the first time I heard him,and although I only met him once or twice, his gentle nature and humility were as charismatic as his musicianship. How lucky the music world is to have experienced this great artist. My sincere condolences to his family, close friends and colleagues.
Andrew Pearce, composer
I first heard the name Maurice Murphy as a young cornet player in Barnet. My teacher would often mention his name in rehearsals and describe how Maurice would "ride the orchestra" in LSO concerts! I later had the chance to sit in with the LSO in Autumn 1992 during rehearsals and film sessions, he made me feel so welcome. I asked him if he might play on the recording of my first brass composition. It was a long shot, but he gave me his card and a week later showed up at Barnet church, straight from the Barbican to give us all a memorable afternoon of awesome playing that I'll treasure forever.
Years later in 2007, I got to work with him professionally on the recording of Cinema Symphony with the RSNO in Glasgow. I always dreampt he would be available to play on it, as I'd always had him in mind when writing. He brought my music to life in his unique way, giving us all a tingle down the spine and augmenting the brass section on top E's and F's. It was absolutely awesome, a force of nature.
I thank him for his scintillating playing on so many film scores, classical recordings and numerous LSO concerts. It has been a pleasure to know him these past few years and a priviledge to have worked with him. He's been an inspiration to me both as composer and trumpeter, enriching so many lives with his natural talent and professionalism. He's loved and admired around the globe and we'll miss him so very much, but his playing and spirit will live on in the wonderful recordings he left us on CD and film.
My thoughts with Shirley and his family. R.I.P dear Maurice, you'll never be forgotten.
Many thanks for posting this.
Many years ago now, one of the world’s major Symphony Orchestras was making it’s first London appearance with a new Music Director, who was an internationally acclaimed conductor. A friend of mine went back stage to see the conductor after the concert, and expressed disappointment at the performance, particularly of the principal trumpet. The great maestro is reported to have smiled benignly and said with wistful look in his eye ‘Not every Orchestra in the world can have Maurice Murphy as principal trumpet!’
I think this encapsulates the esteem and respect in which Mr. Murphy was held. He will be much missed.
Jane Bowditch on behalf of everyone in BACCES
The British Airways Cabin Crew Entertainment Society (BACCES) have lost a much loved friend.
Maurice was a generous, unassuming, gentle, man with an incredibly wicked sense of fun!
To be in the same room with someone who had such obvious, amazing talent was one of those ‘pinch yourself moments‘; BACCES were both honoured and gobsmacked that Maurice afforded us that pleasure on many occasions. His willingness to help us (in his words) ‘in some small way’ was a godsend. How can I talk about Maurice and say his contribution was small? Simple, it is because in his own humility, that’s how he saw it. He must have lost count of the number of people who told him how wonderful he was…. yet he always remained ‘just one of the band’.
Our love goes to all his immediate family and to his extended LSO family…. I know how many of you were so very fond of him…. but you only needed to meet the man once to be entranced by such a ‘special human being’.
We are so lucky to have known him, and to share, and cherish, such treasured, happy memories.
Thank you Maurice.
Trevor Jones, Film Composer
What terribly sad news. We loved Maurice the man and the music that he gave us. His playing has enhanced every step of Trevor’s writing and knowing that Maurice was there to blow that trumpet allowed Trevor to write they way he did. Trevor and I are so very upset.
Paul Stilwell, Producer
How sad to hear about Maurice. He was a very distinguished member of the International world of musicians. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to work with him.
Maggie Rodford, Air Edel
I am so sad to hear this news, Maurice was very much loved by us all. He always had such a wicked sense of humour and loved life so much. Please give our condolences to his family.
Conrad Pope, Orchestrator
I was saddened to learn this morning of Maurice Murphy's death.
I know that you and all the artists of the LSO mourn the loss of such a distinguished colleague and brilliant musician whose artistry enriched us all.
He shall be missed but never forgotten.
Please accept my deepest condolences.
Thanks for letting me know. It's too sad. I'll never forget the great honor of recording his first and only Mahler 5 to disc. (At least, he told us it was his first, which we found beyond belief).
Not just a great musician, but a fine gentleman too. We'll all miss him.
Marcus Pope, 2nd Trumpet, Royal Scottish National Orchestra
I first heard Maurice when he gave a solo recital in Braintree, Essex when I was thirteen years old, and it was a life - changing experience. Thirty five years later I had the huge privilege of actually being in the trumpet section lead by him for some recording sessions with the RSNO in Glasgow.
I will never forget his fantastic playing on either occasion.
A truly great player and a lovely man. Thank you Maurice.
Jerome Leroy, Film Composer, Los Angeles, California
Maurice Murphy has been with me since the day I started listening to film music... more than 15 years ago.
I am deeply saddened by his passing. His inimitable sound has brightened many of my days... and is a huge part of why decided to do music for a living. He will be missed by many.
Sincere condolences to his wife and his family.
John Gracie, Principal Trumpet, Royal Scottish National Orchestra
I consider myself one of the few lucky trumpet players who was fortunate to have had the great privilege of playing second trumpet beside Maurice for four years in the BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra before he joined the LSO.
I cannot put into words what a fantastic experience that was. I learned far more about trumpet playing from Maurice during those four years than I would have done in several decades at any music college.
We had a great time on and off the platform. Almost every Friday evening Liz and I would join Shirley and Maurice at the Hilal in Handforth and then we would either go back to Cheadle Hulme or Heald Green to watch the Midnight Movie and finish off the evening with a night cap (or 3 ).
From my very first day in "THE NORTHERN" playing Prokofiev 5, I was amazed by the style, stamina and ease of playing that Maurice could produce and he just got better and better. I shall never forget his Brandenburg 2 ,Shostakovich 12, Mahler 6, Bach's B Minor Mass( on D trumpet) or everything else that we played together.
Even now some 38 years on faced with a challenging trumpet passage I will ask myself "How would Murph have done this?" He was an inspiration to me and every other trumpet player on this earth and will be sadly missed. However Maurice will be with us forever on CD and Film Scores.
He was kind, generous and always willing to lend a hand. The following tale (There are dozens) is a tiny example of the Maurice we loved:
In the mid '70's when the BBC Northern was resident in Manchester's Milton Hall, Raymond Leppard was appointed Principal Conductor. Leppard would normally lunch in the Midland Hotel and arrive back at the Milton with only a few minutes to spare before the red light went on. He would always have a carafe of water in his room to wash down his lunch. One day someone put a goldfish in the carafe but luckily Leppard even his haste spotted it before it became his fourth course. I don't know if he ever found out who was responsible but immediately after the recording the goldfish was put back in its plastic bag and returned to the pet shop by..............? Yes. A certain Principal Trumpet player.
Maurice I shall miss you forever but your trumpet sound and friendship will always be with me.
Get your ARBAN out Gabriel you have some tough competition ahead of you.
Richard Schaffer, trumpet, Houston (TX) Symphony Orchestra
A very special man indeed. The talents of Herseth, but a nice man as well...a true gentle-man and Renaissance Man. Few are the great trumpeters who are unafraid to show their kindness (if any) to students and the public. Maurice Murphy was one who enjoyed sharing that kindness without reservation. He'll indeed be missed.
I was lucky enough to work with Maurice, his playing always left you with that special 'wow' factor whether it was high or low, loud or soft, he made the instrument sing, and what a guy:-)
I hope Maurice realized what a hero he was to trumpet players all over the world. His incredible artistry and his beautiful sound will be heard by millions of people for many years to come. I know that his kindness and generosity will live on through his students and colleagues.
I'm one of the many of the few who have had the chance & rare privilege to play down the section on occasion to Maurice. RIP Maurice, your sound goes with you & will never be replicated unless Gabriel has been practising but I'd guess he'll just have to move down the section now. My thoughts are with Shirley & family.
I wrote this some years ago when I thought Maurice was about to retire & swan off on his last Mahler 5.
The one and only Maurice Murphy:
You know, nearly all of our great orchestral trumpet players have come form bands (I generalise somewhat, but 89% true).
Harry Mortimer (WHAT!), I hear you say? Well, he never took up a post but he did his fair share with the Liverpool Phil when the notes got black. Jack Macintosh, BBCSO but he actually held a cornet post, Willy Lang LSO, John Wallace Philharmonia for many years, and not forgetting our present hero, the great Maurice Murphy LSO. I'm sorry if I have left a few out (which I have), ok, erm- Martin Winter & Alan Stringer! There.
I wish to remark on what has been a truly great, in fact phenomenal, career. Mr. Maurice Murphy. Last night (April 28th) I witnessed one of the last great orchestral trumpet performances of the 21st Century. The LSO with Maurice at the helm performing his last 'Mahler 5' on UK soil (he has one other in Daytona this summer). 'Mahler 5' is one of THE greatest roasts known to a trumpet player along side 'Petrouchka,' 'West Side', 'Heldenleben', but all of these have their different foibles & styles.
The first 12 bars of this hour marathon belong to solo trumpet, as one other member of the section put it; "one needs large sphericals for this number- and Murph has a wheelbarrow for each".
A capacity audience was in the Barbican inc. 25/38 trumpet players and students. A pin could have been heard to drop (but the percussion was tacit). The first three notes, D#'s rang out as clear as Nepalese mountain water, then, straight away one knew, just from those three notes, the style, the clarity and the purpose belonged to a legend of players!
Maurice's high C#'s sang with a warm zing, his lyrical passages moved and sang like an air from a gypsy violin, his counter melodies stood wide up against the entire 110 piece orchestra, his pp's on high B's + vib made one wonder if an angel had just whispered in my ear. His whole range from low Bb to high D had quality centered throughout, intonation never a question, comes as standard. He sat on top of, and lead, a huge brass section of distinction who all played their musical socks right off not dropping a note anywhere.
Maurice received two standing ovations, too bloody right. His last 'Mahler 5', and I believe he's performed it over 110 times, but I was there for the last one before he retires at the end of the year. What an experience, I thought you should all know! A noise like this can only be born once in several life times, and this one perhaps never again. It's the best trumpet lesson one will ever get for the price of a seat!
With the passing of Maurice Murphy the world has not only lost one of its really great orchestral trumpet players, it has lost the last professional musician in a rapidly declining number, not trained in a conservatoire, but courageous enough to maintain an openly iconoclastic view of the role of the conductor. No conductor with the musical talent and technical ability that matched Maurice’s had anything to fear; in fact I suspect that the really good conductors welcomed the odd disturbance from the back of the orchestra.
From the 1960s onwards, very few orchestral musicians won their place from auditioning without receiving any formal orchestral training, but Maurice did. A virtuoso brass band cornet player like his predecessors; Harry Mortimer, Harold Jackson and Willie Lang. During the 1950s, and within a short space of time because of his outstanding performance at concerts, recordings and broadcasts with Black Dyke Mills Band, Maurice established a reputation as a stunning brass player by anybody’s standards. In student conducting classes, I still use Maurice’s wonderful recording of Percy Code’s Zelda as a challenging exercise for following a soloist, the whimsical rubati and accelerandi simply natural, beguiling and totally convincing.
It was from this amateur, but highly skilled background that the BBC Northern Orchestra ‘headhunted’ Maurice. He was principal trumpet at the BBC in Manchester when I was given one of my first professional trombone engagements with the Orchestra in the winter of 1967.
I arrived on a snowy Monday morning for a rehearsal of a Robert Simpson symphony conducted by Meredith Davies, who like me was making his debut at the BBC Northern. I noticed that the Orchestra, in those days was full of tough Yorkshire men and I learnt quite quickly that these highly efficient players were very businesslike but not too impressed by artistic pretentiousness. Early on in the rehearsal Meredith naively commented to Maurice “Oh trumpets, that’s much too Gothic, I need it more Renaissance”. Maurice’s response, in an audible stage-whisper to Barry Collarbone, his 2nd trumpet, was “Is he talking to us?”, to which Barry nodded. “Well, if he talks to us like that again I’m gonna shoot the fooker!” The next half an hour or so of the rehearsal proceeded without anything much to disturb until again Meredith decided to address another remark in Maurice’s direction: “Oh trumpets, it’s too Rembrandt, I need it more Renoir”, Maurice immediately leant inside his trumpet case and produced a replica Colt 45 - with the sound capability of the genuine article - and ‘shot’ the conductor. A dramatic silence ensued with Meredith looking up in total disbelief. Not one to let the opportunity of the last word pass, Maurice resurrected his stage whisper “that’ll shut him up”. And it did.
Only a musician of Maurice’s unique talent could survive such an encounter in an organisation like the BBC, or any self-governing symphony orchestra, for that matter. It is this kind of forceful and fearless character that intuitively knows how to play to make an audience’s hair stand on end. Oh, for a whole orchestra of Maurice Murphys.
As an admirer and Friend of the LSO I was deeply saddened to read on the BBC New website a few minutes ago that Marice Murphy has died.
He has no doubt given me a great deal of pleasure over the years since I have been a "fan" of the orchestra since 1970, whether in the classical repertoire or in the music for such films as "Star Wars", a wonderful score that seems to be entering the classical repertoire. And why not? Vaughan-Williams and walton amongst others wrote for the cinema and their scores are often played today.
Alexandra Kerwin, Black Dyke Band
I was in Black Dyke Bandroom on the morning of Maurice's death. I was showing a pupil round the hallowed practice rooms. The band still have in their posession the original wooden music stands dating back to 1855. Those fortunate in the band to have won the National Brass Band Championships were permitted to scratch their name onto their stand. I showed my student the principal cornet stand and showing the names carved in over time. I lingered over Maurice's and traced my finger over his name, so proud that he was once a part of this band. It wasn't until I got home that I learnt of his passing. His playing was mesmeric his personality and humililty was so inspiring to all around. When I was in the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain he appeared as guest soloist. He wandered into the rehearsals so lacking in arrogance but so armed with musicality and passion for his art. His performance of the Arthur Butterworth Trumpet Concerto was staggering. Effortless beauty. He will be sadly missed by all. As a tribute to the great man we at Black Dyke played Deep Harmony for him at our concert last night. Rest in Peace.
Fernando Dissenha, Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra (Brazil) - Solo trumpet
Dear friends of the LSO,
I will be visiting London next month, so when I checked on LSO website I saw the note regarding Maurice Murphy's passing. I feel very sad right now. Maurice's sound and musicality has inspired so many of us trumpet players around the world.
God bless his family and thank you Maurice, for being such a hero for us!
I just wanted to say, Maurice Murphy, was the reason I decided to take up a brass instrument and continue to play to this day.
I never knew the man personally, but he was a 'magician of the trumpet' as well as a truly great musician.
Equally, my thoughts go out to his family at this time.
Nick Cutts, Operations Manager, Milton Keynes City Orchestra
I am so sad to that Maurice Murphy is no long with us. Since I first heard him perform (Mahler) with the LSO I knew that he was the best. His technique and sound was absolutely effortless, I looked forward to every new John Williams score because I knew that Maurice was more than likely to feature on it. At least we have his recordings and the film music he performed on to remember his memory and pay tribute to a man I will always think of as the greatest orchestral trumpet player ever....
Very sorry to hear that Maurice Murphy has died. What a legend! My condolences to his families and friends.
My Name is Markus Bebek, I'm Ass. Principal Trumpet of the Frankfurt/Main Opera Orchestra and writer for the German brass Players Magazine SONIC. I'm very sad to hear that a great colleague is passed away - Maurice Murphy was one of the best and most influencing orchestra trumpeters ever.
I am deeply saddened to hear of the death of Maurice Murphy who was truly one of the inspirational musicians for trumpet players of my generation. I only had the opportunity to meet him once, and that was back in the 1980’s while I was working for Boosey and Hawkes, and Maurice was doing some promotional work for us at the ITG conference at the Barbican. Probably like most young trumpet players recently out of college you feel a little overwhelmed when you meet one of your hero’s, and I think Maurice could sense this. He spent most of that day advising and encouraging me and then when we were finished he took me to the Black Dyke concert to meet some of his old colleagues. He was down to earth, warm and very supportive and that day will live with me forever. To my mind his great gift was that he could make great musicianship look simple and effortless, which of course it never is.
God bless you Maurice and thank you.
I would just like to express my sincere condolences and sadness at the passing of Maurice Murphy.He was a very warm hearted and kind man. I had the priviledge to meet him several times.The music world has lost a great player and a great man.I hope the LSO will organise a memorial event to him similar to the tribute concert back in 2000.
My sincere condolences to his wife Shirley and the rest of his family
Maureen Grayson & Lilly Ritter-Grayson
We are absolutely devastated to learn our lovely Maurice Murphy is no more. I am totally speechless.
So many wonderful conversations have been shared with Maurice backstage at the Barbican - everything from our pets to MTT! What a most warm and gifted person, our beloved Maurice. He always had this aura about him which yelled out aloud how friendly, loving, and approachable he was. He was cuddly and gentle, everything in the world to so many.
Maurice was a musician in every sense of the word. As part of an LSO concert, he just shone like the blazing sun; as a soloist, he was incredible and unsurpassed.
We thought so much of you, Maurice. You were a most inspired and beautiful human being. Why oh why are you gone?
Our deepest sympathy and all best wishes to Maurice's family at this difficult time.
I was deeply saddened to hear the news. Maurice was truly one of the nice guys. I had the pleasure of working with Maurice on many happy recording sessions and was proud to record his first solo disc. He will be sadly missed, but his legacy will live on forever.
Memories from 2007
Principal Trumpet, Hong Kong Philharmonic
The first time I ever watched the LSO was in 1997 in the Barbican, playing Strauss’s Alpine Symphony. It was my first year in music college and the whole Orchestra just flattened me with exhilaration and excitement. Naturally as a trumpeter my focus was on the trumpets, but it was truly the most inspirationally trumpet playing. It’s just the best, it’s everything live performance should be. He seems to perfectly balance the excitement of styles of playing from Orchestral, to Commercial to Brass Band. The whole trumpet and music community loves Maurice, I was thrilled to bits that you and he came to perform in Hong Kong before his retirement and my dream came true when I actually got to meet him!
Please send him our sincerest best wishes from Hong Kong.
It has been my privilege to have known and idolised Maurice for the last fifty five years. I was a precocious ten year old cornet player from South Wales going on my first course of the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain. It was the tradition then that all the cornets auditioned in front of each other, starting with the principal cornet from the previous course, one Maurice Murphy. I cannot find the words to describe the influence listening to him that day had on me. I couldn’t believe what he could do with the cornet, he made it talk. I knew then that it was my privilege to have listened to a phenomenal talent, perfection personified, as it has been throughout his career.
He is a great teacher as long as you use your ears and listen; I always wanted to emulate him. We did my first professional date together, Northern Sinfonia, Michael Hall conducted and we did Brahms’ second symphony. A few years later we ended up in the BBC; Maurice as principal with the BBC Northern and I principal with the BBC Scottish. I was not in his league but I still earned a crust.
I have many happy memories of Maurice, but will only recount one. We used to have the month of July off from the orchestra, which my wife and I split between her parents in Sandbach and mine in South Wales. Whilst in Sandbach Maurice and Shirley would invite us for a meal at Preesall Avenue, Derek Garside another fine cornet player and his wife Jan lived opposite. Shirley would cook a superb meal and was complemented with copious amounts of Maurice’s home brew elder flower wine, finished off with his speciality orange liquor; and we listened to a recording which always made us smile.
All my life when asked the question by many pupils, who is the greatest trumpet player? My reply is always the same, Maurice Murphy; there is nobody in the same town as him let alone the same street. He is a living God and a perfect gentleman, and we love him dearly. God Bless my friend, enjoy your retirement, and when you do go in thirty years time, even Gabriel will have to move over.
I'm a semi-professional trumpet player from Manchester and I have always held a special place for the trumpet playing of Maurice Murphy, without realising it at first. I started playing the trumpet at school 20 years ago and I clearly remember listening to a cassette of Pictures At An Exibition and being completely bowled over by the sound of the trumpet at the opening. I was only 10 years old at the time and so captivated by it that I would keep rewinding it just to hear it again and again.
Through my early teens I was taught by Roy King who had worked with Maurice and so he would tell me all the famed stories and how uniquely legendary a player he was. I found out too that it was Maurice playing on the big film soundtracks with the LSO, so I worked out that it was Maurice on that old tape of 'Pictures' (Claudio Abbado conducting). No other recording or performance of that Promenade has ever caught my ears in the same way.
Even though I have never had the pleasure of meeting Maurice, I would just like to pay tribute to him and say that throughout my life his playing has inspired me and more importantly perhaps, reminded me of just how the trumpet should sound. Unfortunately, one cannot ever aspire to sound like that because, as we all know, nobody sounds like Maurice and nobody will in the future.
I have just listened to the podcast on the LSO website before writing this and found it a moving tribute. Such is the effect of Maurice's trumpet playing on me that I didn't need to meet the man himself too feel moved and deeply sad that he has decided to retire.
I wish him all the very best for a comfortable retirement with his family and I'm sure I will not only be speaking for myself to say that Maurice has shown on countless occasions a breathtaking concept of sound and a capacity on the trumpet both technically and musically and that any other mortal trumpeter could find nothing short of superhuman.
Thank you Maurice.
I first heard Maurice play when I auditioned for Black Dyke in July 1958. I was fortunate to pass that audition and so was able to listen and learn from Maurice for 4 years until he left in 1962. My most memorable moment was the opening of Le Roi Dy's at the National finals in 1959. Maurice played so quiet that all the other players accompanying him had to be muted. What an artist, I feel very priviledged to have been in his company, and I would like to wish him all the best in his retirement.
With reference to John H Clay’s magic moments in Dyke’s performance of Lalo’s Le Roi Dy’s conducted by Major George Willocks; as a fellow countryman Max Boyce would say, “I was there”. I was in my first year as a student at the RAM and went to the Royal Albert Hall to witness this triumph. They played number 19; and as John described, the opening was magic, as was the euphonium solo; played by the good looking one taking the pills Geoff Whitham. They won by three clear points, fully justified in my humble opinion.
The best bit was in the evening massed bands concert; which they hated; when Geoff and Maurice exchanged instruments. So the next time you do Pictures at an Exhibition, you know who to book for the tenor tuba part in Bydlo. If you get him, I’ll fly down from here in the North East of Scotland just to hear him play it again!
It was "Belle Vue" Manchester, The British Open, I got talking to Mr Ralph Nellist who knew Maurice Murphy. Well! he said, "when Mrs Murphy first gave young Maurice a cornet, he put it to his lips and played the scale of C. straight off!"
It may very well be true.
Several years ago I wrote Mr. Murphy and told him just how much I enjoyed his playing and how he is an inspiration to all the trumpeters in the world. He wrote me back and commented that it was letters like mine that made him want to keep on going. He took the time to say thanks for the kind words.
Maurice is not only a GREAT musician, he's a VERY SPECIAL man! Around the world, everyone knows his playing.
(LA-based film music orchestrator/concert music composer
I had been playing cornet for about two years in school bands in my hometown of Jacksonville, Florida when "Star Wars" premiered in late May 1977. Once the soundtrack was released, I found myself listening repeatedly to certain tracks, especially those selections featuring the virtuoso performances of the LSO trumpet section (I still remember the section players names as they were listed on the album sleeve). I listened to that soundtrack LP twice a day, every day (wearing out the LP in the process) until my return to school in early September, always in shear awe of those (now) legendary readings. It was after this period that I decided to become serious about my music, first as a performer, later as an aspiring composer/arranger, no doubt influenced by the wonderful musical examples of not only John Williams, but also the remarkable LSO trumpet section, supremely led by the one of the true brass masters of our time, the inimitable Maurice Murphy.
Though I've never had the privilege of working with Mr. Murphy, I did have the great pleasure of hearing him perform with the LSO in the mid 1980s in Daytona Beach, where the orchestra semi-regularly performs a series of summer concerts. It was a wonderful concert, an experience I shall not soon forget.
Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn't make mention of one of my favorite LSO recordings, namely, "Morton Gould Conducts Gould and Ginastera," which features several beautiful solo passages by Mr. Murphy on Gould's orchestral work, "Festive Music."
All the very best to you and yours, Mr. Murphy. Thank you for the wonderful playing on the "Star Wars" trilogies, "Return To Oz", "Monsignor", "Krull", "The Dark Crystal" and so many other LSO soundtrack and concert music recordings.
President's Own U.S. Marine Band
Solo Cor Anglais
Greetings from the United States Maurice. Congratulations and Thank You for all the inspiration you have given us on our side of the pond! We had many great Principal Trumpet players over here over the years...to mention just one our wonderful Adolph Herseth who played in Chicago for some fifty years. YOU, Maurice have been an inspiration to me as a musician (Cor Anglais player). I played with Martin Gatt in Hong Kong, your collegue in the LSO for many years.
I absolutely admire and adore your trumpet sound, style, panache, and leadership of the brass section. You've given the world a legacy with your recordings of the Williams movie scores, and not only myself but my young son of 7 really knows what a trumpet "should" sound like.....effortless, comanding, and thrilling! Good Luck to you.
Can I just add my sincere 'thanks!' along with everyone else's in wishing Maurice and his wife, a long and Happy retirement.
I have happily followed Maurice's career for many, many years and have enjoyed every single note. He can swap styles at the drop of a hat, produce a sound of such beauty and grace and then show absolute power and dignity.
I've just looked through some of the 'Maurice' cd's in my collection and just marvel at the variety, from stunning show tunes to the finest Mahler trumpeter ever.
Best wishes Maurice and 'thank you' for your wonderful personality and wonderful trumpet playing.
Maurice Murphy, the man who is, without doubt, the finest, most respected, most revered and indeed loved, trumpet player in the world, and in a way, the most humble. With his collossal ability one could imagine at least a little conceit, but not this wonderful man. He has so much admiration and respect for his fellow trumpet giants and in fact all musicians that's why everyone loves him, the legend.
I have so many great memories of times shared with this man, who was my best man and is god-father to my daughter, Vicky, but I've chosen a time in the 60's when Maurice was principal in the BBC Northern, now the Philharmonic. The place was Milton Hall on Deansgate, Manchester, where the orchestra rehearsed and broadcast, before they moved to Oxford Road, the tune was Sibelius 2 and I was on third trumpet with the great Harold Hall on second. At one stage in the rehearsl Maurice leaned forward and swung his insrument towards my knee so the edge of the bell crashed into my knee-cap so expertly and so painfully. I cried out. The maestro, I think it was Jack Thompson, looked over and enquired of Maurice: "Is there a problem?" "Yes," replied a contrite-looking principal trumpet, "It's Evans on third trumpet, he can't play his part." God bless you Maurice, you have never lost that sense of fun. You are a total inspiration.
Maurice Murphy was for me the greatest orchestral trumpet player of the past century, and he stays until today the best for me! I heard him in Frankfurt playing the Rite of the Spring with Pierre Boulez, he played the piccolo trumpet part with a D Trumpet and his sound was so great, so clean, I wonder him, I think every young trumpet player has him like the bigest reference for orchestral playing, I remember Mr. Murphy was drinking red wine with the coleagues near the Alter Oper, I seen him and could'nt avoid to talk with my idol! He was very nice, really a lovely guy, he signed my cd of Bernstein West Side Stories suite, an amazing recording!! I'm going to London in july and my dream would be see and listen Maurice again, so a lot of inspiration! Thank you Mr. Murphy for your enormous contribution for the trumpet and the orchestral music!!!!
David Floyd (not a brass player!)
The tributes to MM I’ve been reading on your website prompted me to think back over LSO performances that have stuck in my memory. I can clearly recall the first time I saw Maurice in action – Shostakovich Symphony no.7 at the RFH with Yuri Ahronovich conducting – I was telling friends afterwards that here was the first player I’d encountered with as big a sound as John Wilbraham, but who didn’t look likely to burst a blood vessel producing it. What made his playing so thrilling was the fearless attack on high notes in such works as Sibelius 2, or the Strauss Alpine Symphony (without resorting to a smaller instrument). At high volume levels I would have to award the palm to (also now retired) ‘Bud’ Herseth of the Chicago Symphony (so few of that orchestra’s recordings convey what his playing really sounded like live), but as an all-round player I don’t expect to hear anyone match Maurice Murphy in my lifetime.
I first met Marurice when I was a member of the 2 British Airways crews which flew the Orchestra around the world in 1983. We each did half of the tour and I know I can safely say that this was a career highlight for all of the cabin and flight crew lucky enough to be chosen for this special trip.
We all quickly learned who sat where in the aircraft and who drank what! The Orchestra and the aircraft spent 4 weeks together, flying west around the world. My half of the tour started in Japan, travelling to Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and home via Kuwait.
Maurice's superb playing and wonderful sense of humour made him a great favourite with both crews. The section of the cabin containing the brass players was inevitably the most "lively" and so much fun, with Maurice always in the midst of it. When we finally returned to London it took a very long time for the Orchestra and the two crews to say goodbye because we had enjoyed each others company so much.
Later that year, Maurice, in typically generous style, assembled a small group of players to help me with music for the British Airways Cabin Crew Entertainment Society panto, which every year raises thousands of pounds for charity. This has continued for 23 years and now up to 40 of the players give us their time every year to play with "Murphy's Band", putting down a backing track that hugely improves the sound in the theatre and the confidence of the singers. Maurice is always key to these sessions and can be relied on not only to play his socks off but also to keep the humour going - not difficult for him! Nothing is ever too much trouble and he always insists on another take until the track is just right. I know that all in BACCES wish him a happy retirement and send their love.
His kindness to me on a personal level was demonstrated when he and four other LSO friends played at my wedding as a present. I hadn't expected him to pick up his trumpet as I walked up the aisle but he did and it was a magical moment I will never forget.
Thank you Maurice for all those special musical moments; from Star Wars to Mahler to Purcells Trumpet Tune and above all for your fun, friendship and generosity.
I was a student at the Northern School of Music in Manchester in the mid 60's when Maurice was with the BBC Northern Symphony - when George Cottam was still on bass trombone - a long time ago. I can remember secretly recording Maurice playing the Hummel Trumpet Concerto at a Friday Lunchtime Concert in Manchester Town Hall. It was inspirational and became one of my most played tapes. What was more amazing to me as a young student was the after concert drink when I found that Maurice was just an ordinary fellow who played trumpet, who even bought his round. What set him aside of course was his amazing talent and ability, not that he ever let that get in the way. I have followed his career over the years and am pleased that he still at the top of his game. Congratulations Maurice and all the best for a long and happy retirement.
Steven Craven, AGSM. Trumpet, Malaga Philharmonic Orchestra.
Yes, a phenominal man! What a living legend and is one of the most humblest human beings I have ever met and worked with.
I had quite a considerable amount of contact with Maurice before coming to Spain and taking up a trumpet position with the Malaga Philharmonic.
My best memories of Maurice start from when I was 17 and played cornet with the yorkshire Imperial brass band. Maurice came to record the Ernest Tomlinson Trumpet/cornet concierto and the next day played the same piece in concert in castlford town hall.
Those two days were just unbelievable for me, to be able to listen and record with a musician who could produce a sensational amount of power and be able to play like an angel with the sweatest sound I have ever encounted in a brass player. So sweat that you would,nt think you where listening to a brass instrument, just a