I’m going to read a short letter to Norman that I have written with the
of the very many people who have kindly shared their thoughts and
in recent days. It is a letter that alas can never be sent, and
yet I am sure
Norman is here with us now, watching and listening.
How hard it is for us to know that you have gone, and especially that
is now no longer a Taylor at the timpani of the Royal Opera
House. For all
of us drummers in particular, you were what we aspired to be both
and as a human being, strongly testified to by the demand for your
opera houses, theatres, symphony orchestras, session fixers and so
yet you wore your gifts lightly and humbly, and without demonstration.
There was never a dull moment when you were around – always some
to keep us amused, an impersonation of a wobbly tenor or a famous
Sir Charles Mackerras asking for harder sticks being my
favourite. On tour,
you would always be the first to lend money to us inexperienced souls
managed to blow the entire week’s subsistence on the first meal – and
refused to accept later repayment. Generous, optimistic,
reassuring, supportive, understanding – these are just some of the
words we have
been hearing again and again since your untimely passing.
And indeed, we have all been asking ourselves why? Why have you
gone, aged just 62?
Possibly the most likely explanation is that the Heavenly Philharmonic
is full of tee-totallers
and principal timpanist Alan Taylor just couldn’t wait for you any
longer. What a reunion
you two will be having – after all, you were together at Covent Garden
for over 30 years.
The Taylor partnership was one of those living legends that we thought
would be there forever,
and those of us that remain must consider ourselves blessed to have
and those memories.
We always marvelled at how you could spot a long weekend in Spain from
incredibly complicated Opera House schedule, a gift now possessed by
only one of the
section. As the “keeper of the wages” you would quickly pounce on
any discrepancy :
last December, even though worn out from undergoing treatments for your
still spotted an omission of a hundred pounds that none of us had
There is no doubt that you were one of the good guys. We have
lost a dear and cherished
friend, a true colleague, a world-class performer, and you will
be forever in our thoughts.
Perhaps today isn’t really a final goodbye, but just a longer break
before our next session.
A quotation springs to mind : “If you would seek his monument, look
around you.” Dear
Norman, your monument is not made of stone, or brick, or glass.
It is made of living,
loving people – your family and your friends. It is all of us.
Signing off now, with our love and affection -
we will miss you so very much.
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