Obituary   - by  David Fanshawe

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Composer and Music Educator


Malcolm Fox was born in Windsor in 1946. He was educated at Windsor Grammar School and The University of London, King’s College. He studied composition at The Royal College of Music (1964-68) with Gordon Jacob, Humphrey Searle and Alexander Goehr. He also studied piano with Maria Donska and conducting with Harvey Phillips and Sir Adrian Boult. He gained diplomas in piano performing and teaching; a B.Mus Honours degree, researching Wagner’s operatic theory and practice and an M.Mus (RCM) in advanced theory and history of music.

From 1972-74 he was Director of Music at the Cockpit Arts Centre, London. In 1974, he was appointed to the staff of the Elder Conservatorium of Music at the University of Adelaide, where he was Senior Lecturer, Dean of the Faculty of Music, and Deputy Head of the Department of Music Studies. He was responsible in a diverse academic department, not only in management and curriculum development, but also teaching musicology, music theory, composition, ethnomusicology and music education. For many years he was also responsible for matriculation music examinations in South Australia, and represented the University on various government agencies concerned with music and the arts, also organising national and international conferences. Malcolm was deeply committed to Music Education. Outside the University he was active as a public speaker, writer and broadcaster, noted for his brilliant lectures on the operas of Wagner.

As a composer, Malcolm Fox accumulated a fairly large repertoire of original compositions: orchestral, chamber, choral, electronic works and operas for children. His compositions were widely commissioned (State Opera of South Australia, Victoria State Opera, Western Australia Opera Company, Australian Dance Theatre, Adelaide Festival, Ballet Rambert and Arcata Chamber Orchestra) and performed internationally. He is perhaps best known for his children’s opera Sid the Serpent Who Wanted to Sing, In Memoriam for violin and orchestra, and Pathways of Ancient Dreaming, reviewed by The Australian as "quintessentially English and suggestive of that muted ecstacy one associates with, say, Vaughan Williams."

To quote Malcolm Fox: "I was caused to reflect on the passage of time, since these pathways were first made and of my own nationality, which connects me with this historical continuum." The pathways referred to in the title are the pathways of the imagination and the spiritual pathways that connect us with our native soil, one of Malcolm’s reflective influences being the ancient Ridgeway path of England.

Malcolm Fox lived his life with sensitivity, commitment, great energy and professional enthusiasm. His versatility stretched to teacher, composer, conductor, scholar and administrator. His new appointment was to have been Head of the School of Music at Bretton Hall, England. Malcolm died tragically and suddenly in Australia on 17th November. Close relatives are his sister Allie, his former wife Pauline and their ten year old son Jonathan. A large funeral and memorial service is planned for Friday 28th November in Adelaide. Many colleagues and friends will be present for this musical tribute, which will feature Malcolm’s own music, together with his beloved Wagner.

This obituary was written David Fanshawe, best known for his acclaimed African Sanctus. His Fantasy on Dover Castle is dedicated to Malcolm.


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