A Tribute by Peter Ash

It was with great sadness that I was recently informed of the sudden death of Adrian Thorne. For over thirty years until 2007, Adrian ran Musicianship Training at the CYM. Until more recently, he was also Professor of Academic Studies at the Guildhall School.

Countless young musicians over these years benefited from his wisdom. I was one of them. I am also profoundly indebted to him for enabling my long commitment to London and to the CYM family.

I first met Adrian in September 1979 when I arrived at the Guildhall School as an 18-year-old horn player. I was keen to have intensive music analysis training privately. Everyone said go to Adrian. So, I did. My lessons with him were a slow-burn revelation. I soon discovered that under a taciturn, but utterly concentrated facade, flamed the passion of a great musician. I knew after my first session on the 1st movement of Brahms’ C minor String Quartet that my contact with him would change my attitude to music.

Adrian influenced my life in other ways as well, by asking me to assist him in his Saturday musicianship classes at the CYM in Lupus Street. At that point, I was supporting myself through my Guildhall years and subsequent studies at King’s College London with odd jobs of all sorts. The CYM work allowed me to give up some of the odder ones, including taking bets at the Walthamstow Dog Track at a time when I shared a flat with Lori Norriss.

Thanks to Adrian, I have now taught at the CYM almost constantly since 1979. I was also privileged to cover some of his musicianship teaching at the Guildhall School in the early 1980s, teaching more than one of his private pupils, including Louise Hopkins, and some large analysis classes. He was never one to brag, but I will always remember Deborah Young telling me how proud he was to see and hear three of his former pupils perform at the Barbican in the same concert. In September 2003, Louise performed Elgar’s Cello Concerto with the LSSO when I also conducted the premiere of a Royal Philharmonic Society commission, Jonathan Dove’s Run to the edge.

Adrian’s uniqueness included a rare ability to teach effectively at all levels – from the most basic music skills for very young children to score reading and analysis of Tippett’s Ritual Dances. I have benefited from both extremes.

He will continue to be with me every day for as long as I live, both consciously and unconsciously. Amongst the dozens of his observations I hold dear and that have been stolen, hopefully to good purpose, is: “The one thing I was never told as a young musician was that in order to play anything, you have to be able to imagine the sound before it happens.”

Well, dear Adrian, I hear you now and I will always remember you.

Peter Ash
Artistic Director of LSSO