John Alexander writes... The music publisher, writer on music and organist Basil Ramsey died on June 13 at the age of eighty-nine. He was perhaps best-known as a senior member of staff of the publishers Novello, a company he joined as a tea-boy in the post room. Basil rose to become one of the most admired officers of the company as director of publications, in which position he nurtured the careers of many composers, several of whom he brought to the company.

Novello also published The Musical Times, and Basil additionally served on the editorial staff of that journal for many years, as well as – later – that of the magazine Choir and Organ. From an early age he was an admired organist at St Luke’s Old Street, among other churches, and on leaving Novello in 1974 set up his own business, Basil Ramsey Publisher of Music, with Bernard Herrmann.

In 1996, Basil suffered a serious stroke, obliging him to give up the organ. That year also saw the death of his wife of forty-four years, but although now severely restricted in physical movement, Basil was among the first to embrace the Internet and founded Music & Vision, devoted to classical music news and reviews.

A modest and unassuming man, Basil supported and encouraged many composers at Novello and through his own, sadly short-lived, company. His example was an inspiration to all who came into contact with him, and his service to British music and musicians throughout his long working life will never be forgotten by those who had the good fortune to come under and benefit from his experienced guidance.


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