The English composer Malcolm Lipkin has died at the age of 85. Born in Liverpool in 1932, as a young man Lipkin studied under Hungarian composer Mátyás Seiber. His teacher’s sudden death in a car accident in 1960 had a profound effect on him, and he composed the melancholy middle movement of his Violin Concerto No 2 in Seiber’s honour.
Though his was often a marginalised voice, Lipkin’s First Violin Sonata has been performed more than 100 times. He was commissioned by the BBC to write a Wind Quartet, premiered by the Nash Ensemble in 1985, and an Oboe Concerto, performed by oboist Gareth Hulse and the London Chamber Symphony in 1991. Lipkin also had a strong interest in educational music for young people and wrote choral work The Knight of the Grail for the New London Children’s Choir in 1993.
Reviewing the Nash Ensemble’s 1986 recording of the octet Clifford’s Tower for the Hyperion label, Robert Layton made an argument for a reappraisal of Lipkin. He described the piece, inspired by the massacre of the Jewish population of York in the 12th century, as having ‘a powerfully conceived, moving and imaginative score’. Layton went on to write that Lipkin’s ‘long neglect is difficult to understand. His is a real voice and I regret not having heard his music before.’