William Sterling

William Reed

William Leonard Reed 1910-2002 was a composer, pianist and teacher much loved by his family and friends and admired by all those who attended his Music Appreciation classes and recitals.  A pupil of Howells, Will’s compostional style was much influenced by Delius and he was part of the English pastoralist tradition that included his older contemporaties such as Bax and Finzi.  He occasionally indulged in more advanced techniques akin to his other contemporaries such as Tippett and Britten.

Will was part of the fire service during the war and was stationed at Dr Johnson’s House in Gough Square, London.  Here he helped with the regular concerts for the fire watchers and wrote a four movement string quartet for the resident quartet called Dr Johnson’s Suite.  The performance below was by the Delos Quartet, recorded at the Westminster Theatre in 1979.

First Movement – Dr Johnson

Second Movement – Dr Johnson’s House

Third Movement – Dr Johnson’s Minuet

Fourth Movement – Dr Johnson’s Reel

It was also during this period that Will wrote his masterpiece, his Piano Trio in A minor.  He told me that he was inspired by watching the rooftops of London during the Blitz but also felt the presence of Ravel’s Trio when working on it.  The York Trio recorded it for a BBC Radio 3 broadcast in 1990 and more recently Penelope Thwaites has performed it with colleagues at a concert at the Wigmore Hall in 2005 as part of a celebration of Will’s life and in 2010 as part of his centenary celebrations.

One of my favourite pieces the Andante from the Caux Suite.  This is a very old recording so forgive the chip frying background.


Another favourite is the first movement of his Concert Suite called Prelude


Will and Elgar

Will had a life long enthusiasm for Elgar which he celebrated by visiting as many places as he could associated with the great man.  He incorporated his photgraphs of these places into an illustrated talk on Sir Edward which he gave many times in many places and adapted over the years as he added to his stock of pictures.  I had the honour to be able to recreate this talk in 2007 as part of the Elgar celebrations and adapted Will’s script and slides with the co-operation of his family.  Below is a PDF version of this talk.

Elgar His Homes and His Music