UK violinist Peter Mountain, former RLPO concertmaster, dies

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

British violinist and teacher Peter Mountain has died at the age of 89. During a long career he was concertmaster of several UK orchestras, performed as a soloist and chamber musician, and coached both students and young professionals.

Born in Shipley, West Yorkshire, Mountain won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music in London at the age of 16. He began his studies there in September 1940, just as the Blitz was starting. He later served in the Royal Marines Band and led an armed forces orchestra on a tour of south-east Asia in 1945–46.

Between 1947 and 1955 he played firstly in the Boyd Neel String Orchestra and then the Philharmonia Orchestra. He also established himself as a soloist and chamber music player, performing in several ensembles and in a duo with his pianist wife Angela Dale. In 1955 he was appointed concertmaster of the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, which became the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in 1957.

He returned to London in 1966 to join the London Philharmonic Orchestra as principal second violin, sometimes serving as concertmaster. He also played and  recorded with the English Chamber Orchestra, among other ensembles.  

In 1968 Mountain was hired to lead the Bristol-based BBC Training Orchestra, which was established to help develop young UK orchestral professionals who had recently graduated from conservatoires. He supervised the players' coaching and chamber music activities, conducted some of their performances, and engaged leading London musicians as visiting coaches.

A move to Glasgow followed in 1975, when Mountain became head of strings at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now Royal Conservatoire of Scotland). During the next 15 years he expanded his solo and chamber music activities, served as chief string coach of the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland and guest-led orchestras including the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

After retiring from the RSAMD in 1990, Mountain returned to West Yorkshire and became head of strings for Bradford Education. He gave up playing and teaching after his wife died in 2004. In his final decade he devoted his time to writing and arranging music. He also published two volumes of autobiography: Scraping a Living and Further Scrapings.

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