KBGS Old Boys' Forum

A place to discuss Keighley Boys' Grammar School. 

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Philip Marshall

Philip Marshall

I spent Christmas away from home this year and on Boxing Day I was one of a party given a very informative conducted tour of Lincoln Cathedral. The commentary given by the tour guide was interupted by the organist, pracicing for some future service but his playing reminded me that almost 50 years previously whilst working in Lincoln, I had a very brief conversation with Philip Marshall who was for a short period, Music Master at KBGS. I recognised Philip by his disinctive gait as he was walking down Lincoln High Street. To be honest, I don't think he wanted to be reminded of his stay in Keighley and he quickly but politely terminated our conversation and I never saw him again. Anyway, I asked the guide if he remembered Marshall's time as organist in the cathedral and was told that he had been a much respected and revered member of the cathedral. I came across the following obituary whilst checking out what our old Music Master had done since leaving Keighley.

Does anyone else remember Philip Marshall? He and 'Gobbo' Pickles, his predecessor, couldn't have been more didfferent!

Kenneth Shenton
The Guardian, Friday 21 October 2005 00.04 BST

The organist, composer, conductor, teacher and adjudicator Philip Marshall, who has died aged 84, enriched music far beyond the provincial organ loft. Born at Brighouse in the west riding of Yorkshire, his formative years were spent in Alford, Lincolnshire. After wartime service in the Royal Army Service Corps, in 1946 his prodigious musical gifts were recognised with his election by examination as a fellow of the Royal College of Organists. That same year, he was appointed music master at Keighley boys' grammar school, and became organist at All Souls church, Haley Hill, Halifax.

There he met Margaret Bradbury, whom he married in 1951, the year he moved to Boston, Lincolnshire, and took an external degree from Durham University. As organist of St Botolph's church and school music master, Dr Marshall - as he became in 1955 - played a pivotal role within the community's musical life. This continued with his move to Ripon Cathedral, where he created the cathedral choir school in 1960. In 1966, he moved to Lincoln Cathedral, where for 20 years he enhanced cultural standards, both near and far. In addition to his ecclesiastical duties, he taught in the cathedral school, lectured for the Workers' Educational Association, conducted Lincoln Music Society and, in 1982, established a three choirs festival.

Marshall rejoiced in British 19th and early 20th century organ music. His love of colour could be heard in his improvisatory gifts as well as in his subtle skills as an accompanist. As a choral technician he was always demanding and, although sparing in praise, obtained the highest standards.

As a composer, his feel for the liturgy allowed him to write well for voices. On a larger canvas, his many full-blooded liturgical pieces were more than matched by lyrical and popular instrumental creations, including a distinctive Concerto for Piano and Orchestra.

Marshall retired in 1986 and spent more time on interests ranging from cats and calligraphy to all things mechanical, especially steam railways. With an abiding love of traditional Anglican rites, this most modest of men was one of the last guardians of a great English tradition.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1945 - 50

Current location (optional) Norfolk UK

Re: Philip Marshall

Yes, Denis, I remember Philip Marshall very well. Not only was he the music master but, in my first year at KBGS, also my English teacher. Early in our first week he set us our first 'composition' (essay), which was entitled, 'The country I should most like to visit' and I, having just finished reading "Biggles Fails to Return", wrote about Monaco. I wrote it in purple ink, which he said was 'lurid' (I was quite disappointed to find what that meant when I looked it up, I quite liked it myself...). Nevertheless, he gave me nine out of ten and commented to the whole class on my interesting opening sentence, which went something like 'It isn't France or Spain or wherever; no, the country I should etc.', so naturally, I quite worshipped him ever after that.

He was known as Tarzan, because he had the habit, in the tiered music room, of starting up at the back and launching himself all the way down the narrow aisle to the 'well' at the front, by placing a hand on the desk-tops on either side of the aisle and leaping from one desk to another, all the way down, his feet never touching the floor. He was a tall, heavy man, and I guess it was quite a feat of strength. Must have been all the toccatas and fugues he got through, and pulling and pushing at the organ stops!

He was very much a railway enthusiast and I still have a postcard of 'Sir Alexander McCosh' he sent me shortly after taking up his post in Boston. I too encountered him, sometime in the early nineties, in the Cathedral Close, and recognised him at once, despite the intervening forty-odd years. Of course, he didn't remember me or, indeed, much about his short time at KBGS. A kindly man, a good teacher, who always devoted the last lesson on Friday afternoon to reading "Beavis" to us, and having a special voice for each of the main characters, to our great delight. These things make an impression - clearly, a lasting impression - at that age.

Re: Philip Marshall

I too remember Mr Marshall succeeding Gobbo as music master, I never knew his Christian name.Yes he was a tall well built chap but I never saw the jump described above. As I recall, he didn't care for rugby but described himself as a veteran of the ring. I can't remember whether it was wrestling or boxing but I suspect that it was wrestling. He had a different way of speaking to us Keighley lads and a bit of a showman but I think from memory that he was quite a popular teacher. Thanks for the memory Dennis, I don't recall him being mentioned before. Cheers.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1947-51

Current location (optional) Auckland, NZ