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My love of the countryside and trees


My passion for music and especially the organ
Bernard Lovell Astronomer
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The other thing about my life... I could have been... I could have been a cricketer but I'm jolly glad I wasn't, in view of what happened. I was quite good and played for the university and then the war came and there was no cricket then and the other thing was music. Now, music... I was as a young boy taught to play the piano, but then I became... became passionate about organs and still am, and I was... I had two uncles who were organists and at a very young age I used to deputise in the church for one of my uncles. And then, when I grew up and when I was at university stage, I became the pupil of an organist in Bath, Raymond Jones and he... he became... his church was destroyed during the war in which he taught me, and he became the organist at Bath Abbey and I've had this close connection with Bath Abbey. And he... he lived for a long time and he was emeritus organists for Bath Abbey, and his... until last year I'd made, when I was... at Christmas time I would always going to the organ loft in Bath Abbey with his successor.

Now, I have this strange passion for organs and I still have, and I will go anywhere to hear a good organ recital. When we moved to Swettenham, I was fortunate enough to become the organist to the local church, and in 19... the organ in the church, it's a very small church and he had a list of rectors dating from the 13th Century but it's a very beautiful church. And when I became the organist there it was a very poor organ, and then I became acquainted, through friends, with Noel Mander, the firm of great organ builders in London. And it was Noel Mander who frequently came here and stayed with us and we arranged for him to rebuild the organ in the church here, and so now since 1964 we have a Mander organ in this small church.

Now, I was the organist in the church for forty years and it was a riveting part of my life. It ordered some... gave some order to it, the practising and the playing every Sunday. And then, about ten years ago, my sight became so poor that I had to give up, so I'm no longer the organist but I miss it very much. I still amuse myself on the piano here, but I'm still passionate about organ music and about organs in general. That has been... I often wish, oddly, that I had really devoted my whole attention to music and become more of a professional musician than I could ever claim to be. But it's been a great release for someone in one of the awful times that I have to talk about at the Jodrell, one of my colleagues said to me, 'Well, I should think you could deal with a good gin and tonic when you get home tonight?' And I said, 'No, I shall sit down at the piano and play a little Bach'. It had that sort of effect on me and now in my very late old age of 93 I can't really see to read alas unless I have artificial means, but I'm passionate about it. I listen to music and I go to a lot of concerts and I'm mixed up intimately with many concert societies in the vicinity, Chester Music Festival and many others, and so on, so that has added a dimension to my life which has really stopped me from devoting my whole time to science.

Bernard Lovell (1913-2012), British radio astronomer and founder of the Jodrell Bank Observatory, received an OBE in 1946 for his work on radar, and was knighted in 1961 for his contribution to the development of radio astronomy. He obtained a PhD in 1936 at the University of Bristol. His steerable radio telescope, which tracked Sputnik across the sky, is now named the Lovell telescope.

Listeners: Megan Argo Alastair Gunn

Megan Argo is an astronomer at the University of Manchester's Jodrell Bank Observatory researching supernovae and star formation in nearby starburst galaxies. As well as research, she is involved with events in the Observatory's Visitor Centre explaining both astronomy and the history of the Observatory to the public.

Alastair Gunn is an astrophysicist at Jodrell Bank Observatory, University of Manchester. He is responsible for the coordination and execution of international radio astronomical observations at the institute and his professional research concerns the extended atmospheres of highly active binary stars. Alastair has a deep interest and knowledge of the history of radio astronomy in general and of Jodrell Bank in particular. He has written extensively about Jodrell Bank's history.

Tags: World War II, Bath, Bath Abbey, Christmas, London, Chester Music Festival, Jodrell Bank

Duration: 5 minutes, 7 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2007

Date story went live: 05 September 2008