OBITUARY: LIONEL HILL

The death on 14th February of Lionel Hill severs another of those very special links with the past: his friendship with E.J. Moeran resulted in that beautifully-written memoir Lonely Waters [Thames 1985] that is as important to our knowledge of that composer as are W.H. Reed's Elgar as I knew him and Eric Fenby's Delius as I knew him to their subjects. It would be no exaggeration to say that much of the interest shown in Moeran's music in recent years has been due to his book. One of its central themes was Lionel and Jack's shared love of the music of Delius. Lionel would tell with pride how he attended the 1929 Delius Festival concerts at one of which he sat within a row or two of Delius, and how he and Moeran - both pipe smokers - would listen to recordings of Delius's music, among them A Village Romeo and Juliet. Lionel's love of the two composers' music never dimmed. (Flying, too, had been an earlier love.) In April 1986 he and his wife Betty were guest speakers at a special Delius Society meeting to mark his father-in-law Albert Sammons' centenary, a memorable occasion at which George Lloyd was also a speaker. Lionel returned in February 1994 to talk about his friendship with Moeran. He was delighted when his book went into a second printing and he drew great satisfaction from the correspondence that resulted from many Moeran enthusiasts both near and far. His final pleasure was seeing the issue of the Symposium Moeran CD (reviewed in News 81, p.288).

Lionel and Betty, who celebrated their ninetieth birthdays last year, had moved from their flat in Northolt to an annex built for them in their son Nick's cottage close to Shaftesbury. Nick's sudden death last Christmas was a great blow to them both. Soon afterwards a fall put Lionel in hospital. After recovering from a hip operation he and Betty were driven to York where they planned to live and be cared for in a comfortable home. But the journey probably proved too much for Lionel. He was taken to bed and died a couple of days later from a heart attack. Those who were privileged to know him will remember his warm and sincere friendship, his quiet enthusiasm and his ever fresh enjoyment of the music of his favourite composers that made his eyes sparkle when he spoke of it. Our deepest sympathies go to Betty whose sense of loss we also share.

S.F.S.L.

Journal of the British Music Society, 1999

 

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...he drew great satisfaction from the correspondence that resulted from many Moeran enthusiasts both near and far...