The composer Colin Hand died on 6 August 2015. He was 86 years old. Though he showed an early interest in music and played the viola in his school orchestra, it was as biochemist that he initially studied. However, he was eventually drawn to music again, studied the organ with Dr Melville Cook and received a MusB from Trinity College, Dublin. He subsequently spent fifteen years as a lecturer in further education and fifteen years part-time as an examiner for Trinity College, London. His compositions include choral (a substantial amount of church music), orchestral and chamber music and songs, including some fine settings of Walter de la Mare and Thomas Hardy. He carried out substantial research for a PhD on the Tudor composer John Taverner, and his book John Taverner, his Life and Music was published by Eulenburg in 1978.  

Many recorder players will be familiar with and have enjoyed playing his music. The Fenland Suite and Hallam Suite, both for recorder quartet, are justly popular ensemble pieces, but solo works such as Sonata piccola, Petite suite champêtre and Plaint have also become established works in the recorder repertoire.

A native of Lincolnshire, he spent much of his life in or near Boston, and its magnificent parish church (frequently known as “The Stump”), where he played the organ, was a constant inspiration.

Andrew Mayes

Last updated 15 November 2023