John Tyrrell (1942-2018) sadly passed away in the early morning of Thursday 4 October. Born in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe), John studied at the universities of Cape Town, Oxford and Brno, before being appointed as a lecturer in Music at the University of Nottingham in 1976. He later served as both Reader and Professor of Music, before becoming executive co-editor of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Second Edition (29-Volume Set), in which capacity he helped many Nottingham graduates make a start in careers in editing and publishing. He took up a research professorship at Cardiff University in 2000, becoming Honorary Professor in due course.
John was a great scholar and advocate of Czech music, in particular that of Leoš Janáček. He maintained contacts in both the musical and the academic worlds, typically in the former Czechoslovakia, but also much more broadly. He collaborated extensively with such musicians as the conductor Sir Charles Mackerras in the establishment of new standards for printed scores and performing editions of Janáček’s works, especially the operas. His score of Jenůfa (in collaboration with Mackerras) is already performed worldwide, and a new edition of From the House of the Dead has been trialled in Cardiff, London and Munich. His definitive two-volume biography of Janáček documents some of his very varied activities and contacts, but cannot capture them fully in their range, diversity and fruitfulness. For his work on Janáček and Czech music more broadly, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Masaryk University, Brno (2002) and also by the Janáček Academy of Performing Arts in Brno (2012).
While at Nottingham, John was the guiding light of the Nottingham University Opera projects, which often conjured up from the mists of time forgotten or barely-remembered works. A memorable example among many was Dvořák's Dimitrij, performed to John's edition in 1979 for what was then and would be for years to come the only performance in the UK; another was the 1983 performances of The Queen of Golconda by Franz Berwald (1864), for which (local tradition relates) the Swedish ambassador came all the way to the East Midlands to attend.
The University mourns his passing, and acknowledges with warmth and respect his contributions to scholarship and to music more widely. The Department of Music was especially proud to have had him as a member of staff for two decades, during which he was generously supportive of the work of his younger colleagues and the founder and first Chair of the Department’s teaching committee. He will be sorely missed.
Posted on Friday 19th October 2018