Just before Christmas 1981, we all went to see Chris at 2 Claremont. Christopher (Birks) was amazed to see Chris eating breakfast at 4 pm! Chris explained that he was living on American time as he was back and forth to the USA conducting Messiah. John and Hilary then had to try to explain to young Christopher why times were different in Cambridge (Mass) and Cambridge (UK). In 1982, whilst John was working in Minnesota, he heard a wonderful error on National Public Radio when the broadcaster introduced some Vivaldi concertos played by “the Academy of Ancient Musicians”! Between 1982 and 1985 John helped at Heather Jarman’s Amanuensis business to file the AAM music library. It was great fun to see some of the musician’s candid annotations and comments on some of the Mozart symphony scores.
We were able to attend many of Chris’s concerts with the AAM in London between 1985 and 2013 (e.g. Handel operas at the Barbican, Mozart, Mendelssohn) by arranging John’s teaching at University College London to coincide with AAM concerts. John last talked with Chris at 10 Brookside in September 2013 at the 40th anniversary birthday party for the AAM. John and Chris discussed mainly their close but deceased friend Nick Shackleton as John is preparing a seminar about Nick as a polymath in climate research, palaeoceanography, and clarinets. Chris was very close to Nick and he used extensively the commemorative postage stamp portraying Nick that was produced for the 350th anniversary of the Royal Society in 2010.
We kept in good contact with Chris after we left Cambridge and we always looked forward to his wonderfully original Christmas cards each year. The greetings message always matched the drawing or picture such as “Best wishes for an anonymous Christmas and an incognito New Year” to accompany ‘Anonymous portrait of an unknown boy, mid-18th century, playing an unidentified concerto (? Thomas Arne) on a spinet by an unknown maker (? Thomas Barton)’, or “Best wishes for a harmonious Christmas and concerted New Year”, and “With best wishes for an Amadeus-free Christmas and a Byrd-like New Year”.
Inspired by Chris’s approach to historically-informed performance (HIP), John adopted this philosophy when starting ecological resampling surveys of vegetation on Norwegian mountains to discover what changes have occurred since the original surveys in the 1920s or 1930s. For these resurveys, we used maps, guidebooks, field equipment, and soil analytical procedures of the period to allow a fair comparison of the recent and the historical data. John lectured about this approach to the Centre for the Philosophy of Science in Bergen in a seminar on ‘HIP in Music and Ecology’.
When one looks back at Chris’s life and achievements, his musical breadth is amazing, ranging from Music from the Gothic Era with David Munrow and the Early Music Consort of London to Martinu and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. We were very fortunate to have known Chris for over 40 years. He was a loyal, generous, and supportive friend, a complete musician, an amazing scholar, and truly delightful person. Besides our many memories of him and the AAM, he has left a wonderful legacy of recordings, books, editions, articles, interviews, Gresham College lectures, and on-line videos that we will continue to enjoy and treasure. Many of his recordings are well known, others are less well known but are equally wonderful, like his ‘Secret’ clavichord series of Bach, Handel, and Mozart; a video about Haydn at Esterháza introduced by Chris, Melvin Bragg, and HC Robbins Landon; LPs of Music for Petworth, Seventeenth Century Italian Music (Chris’s London Early Music Ensemble with Michael Laird), and Music at Court to accompany his Folio Society book of the same title; the CD of Boyce symphonies; and the LPs and CDs of Couperin’s Trois Leçons de ténèbres with Judith Nelson, Emma Kirkby, and Jane Ryan, Venice Preserv’d, and Haydn’s Music for England.