Wimbledon International Music Festival 10 - 25 November

‘The Heifitz of the Oboe’

Tuesday 20 November

As a once aspiring oboist myself, long time ago, I was always mesmerised by the exceptional playing of Malcolm Messiter. When looking for an oboist for the concert on Tuesday 20 November, I simply had to invite him.

Policka-Trio Martinu

Malcolm Messiter

"Malcolm Messiter exercised an almost hypnotic sway over his audience with his flawless timing, the eloquent beauty of his phrasing and scintillating agility..."
Daily Telegraph

Then suddenly stepping out in the cold, high up, on the narrow balcony that runs round the four sides of the square room where he was born - Yes! Born! At the top of the church tower! - and where he was confined through illness for the first few years of his life. The balcony where he used to bash his toy tin drum, only now the sounds were of a drone, filming our historic return to the tower.

His father, a shoemaker supplemented a poor living by being fire watchman; a demanding mother, but with a good voice; and Old Father Stoddola, his father’s assistant full of stories, who used to carry him down, then up, those 198 stairs for violin lessons… his first concert standing on a table in a local tavern… the townsfolk collecting for a scholarship to send him to Prague… his overnight departure to Paris, the city of music and art…

His life in exile had begun… a longing to return, a yearning for his homeland… his outrage at the Nazi occupation expressed in his great Double Concerto… On the Nazi black list he was on the last train out of Paris: crossing the Pyrenees in winter: finding refuge in the new world. An alien world, the skyscrapers a bitter reminder of the church tower he would visit again only in his dreams, and his music.

Malcolm won a scholarship to the Paris Conservatoire to study with the legendary French oboist Pierre Pierlot, returning to continue his studies under another legend, Terrence Sutcliffe. At 22 Messiter became Principal Oboe first of the BBC Concert Orchestra, later with the London Mozart Players, then becoming in great demand as a soloist. He is the oboe in Mike Oldfield’s ‘Tubular Bells’, the BBC’s ‘Secret Garden’, and touring oboist for many years with the Amadeus Quartet.

"…an astounding display of virtuosity such as I have never heard before from an oboist. Bewildering velocity of fingers and tongue, phenomenal breath control, are allied to rhythmic vivacity and exuberant showmanship. Yet, we hear ravishing tone and a musician's sensibility. After my first encounter with the British oboist Malcolm Messiter I can best describe him as the ‘Heifetz of the oboe’." Records and Recording

Please come and hear him for yourself, performing with the outstanding Czech Trio Martinů. He is keeping his solo a secret!

"Messiter plays the oboe like a wizard."
"Amazing …" "Phenomenal ..."
"… the most exquisite music sounds imaginable"

Tuesday 20 November St John’s, Spencer Hill


Anthony Wilkinson
Festival Director




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