All who knew Paul Clark will have been saddened by the news of his recent death. I was privileged to know Paul as a good friend and highly esteemed colleague over a period of nearly fifty years. My first encounter with him was in 1969 when, having returned to Birmingham after five yearsaway studying, I became aware of Paul as a prominent figure on the Midlands recorder scene. I contacted him about Van Eyck’s Variations on Dowland’s Pavan Lachrimae which I had heard Frans Brueggen play on the radio. I knew nothing then about Van Eyck, but received in the post a hand written copy of the piece (this was before easy access to photocopying), together with publication details of Der Fluyten Lusthof. This was just the first example of the kindness and generosity which Paul would demonstrate over the following years. Others spring readily to mind: he was always willing to lend instruments; it was on Paul’s recommendation that I was first invited to teach at the Northern Recorder Course; I gained experience teaching the recorder under Paul’s guidance at Wilfred Martineau School where he was Head of Music; and with the establishment of the Birmingham Schools’ Recorder Sinfonia I benefited from Paul’s advice and suggestions for repertoire.
Paul was perhaps best known for his work with the Society of Recorder Players, for his teaching on various courses and summer schools, and for his many fine compositions and arrangements. Paul was always modest about his own playing, but he was an accomplished recorder player whose performance was always informed by his love and understanding of the music. In the late 1970s and early 1980s he took part in a recording and a number of concerts in Birmingham, London and Chester using the famous Chester recorders from the Grosvenor Museum. On these occasions Paul mainly played the Bressan bass, an awkward instrument to manage which he handled with skill and aplomb. For most of the 1980s Paul and I played regularly with Helen Green as the Halcyon Recorder Trio. Rehearsals at my house were eagerly awaited by my three children as Paul always arrived bearing gifts of sweets or chocolate for them! We played a varied repertoire, and it was usually Paul who introduced challenging modern pieces such as the Trio by Henk Badings and Arrangements by Serocki.
There can be few recorder players in Britain, whether children or adults, amateurs, students or professionals, whose lives have not been touched in some degree by the work of Paul Clark. I will remember him with respect, gratitude and great affection.