Farewell to Nigel Broadbent, first violin

On Thursday 21 December we say goodbye to one of the stalwarts of the London Symphony Orchestra, first violinist Nigel Broadbent, who retires after 38 years in the Orchestra.

Nigel joined the LSO in April 1979 as Orchestra said farewell to André Previn and looked to a new era with Claudio Abbado as Principal Conductor. It was celebrating its 75th birthday. The Barbican would not become the LSO's home for another three years and was still based at the Royal Festival Hall. It would be fair to say that Nigel has seen an awful lot of history since!

We asked Claire Parfitt, Nigel's first violin colleague and close friend for 29 of his 38 years in the LSO, to tell us a few little personal snippets about him, and here's what she said:

Nigel and Claire

A very active member, Nigel always works for the best interests of the players. He was the LSO's Musicians Union steward for many years, representing our interests, and successfully organised payments from the music licencing company PPL [Phonographic Performance Ltd] for LSO musicians who had played on recordings – some going back several years. He was a Board member for three years, working hard to run the Orchestra alongside his day job in the violin section. He can always see a completely different angle when discussing matters, which is a great asset.

Nigel is very encouraging to young musicians, and has coached generations of young musicians in the National Youth Orchestra. Always full of good advice, on my first day in the LSO he said: "if in doubt, play short", a maxim I follow to this day.

Things you probably don't know about Nigel: he is a vegetarian and has superb knowledge of the world's vegetarian restaurants, being the widely travelled man that he is. He loves red wine and single malt whisky. He can out-cheese anybody! He's a fully trained masseuse and has helped many of his colleagues through the physical pressures that being a musician places on the body; he has an innate understanding of musicians and their needs. Always a gadget man, he was the first in the Orchestra to have an iPad and always has the lastest gear.

His years in the Orchestra, especially on tour, working with so many musicians means he has a host of stories that are thoroughly unsuitable for public consumption (!), but there are some that are suitable (and endlessly fascinating) which can be read on his blog, Nigel en Provence

Nigel is retiring to Provence – he's a Francophile! – where he has had a house for a few years, and where he plays jazz violin in his local tavern as relaxation. A fair person who is a lot of fun and very fine musician, he will be very much missed by everyone in the LSO.

Photos provided by Claire Parfitt and Maxine Kwok-Adams