Donald Hawksworth

4th May 2012 at 01:00
The musician and teacher shared his passion for climbing and adventure with pupils

Donald Hawksworth, who has died aged 82, arrived more by accident than design in north-east Scotland, where he enjoyed a long and distinguished musical career.

Yorkshire born and bred, he studied at London's Royal College of Music and had no connection with the area until he spotted an advert for a job in Brechin.

Without having a clue where the Angus town was located, he applied successfully for the post of music teacher. A few years later he moved further north to teach at Aberdeen Grammar School, where he remained for the best part of two decades and became head of department. He happily admitted he had been sucked in to the city's musical vortex.

Aberdeen also proved the perfect base for his hillwalking and mountaineering passion. The hills were familiar territory: he had grown up with the Peak District on his doorstep when he was raised in Sheffield. At Aberdeen Grammar, he was involved in organising numerous exchange trips for pupils and young musicians from Aberdeen's twin city of Regensburg in Germany, as well as taking school parties on climbing expeditions.

He left the school in 1973 and for the next 10 years was music adviser to the local education authority. After taking early retirement in 1983 he was able to devote more of his time to his own musical activities, which included performing and examining.

A member of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, he travelled widely at home and abroad, frequently visiting Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. The foreign trips also gave him the opportunity to indulge in his love of climbing abroad. He visited the Himalayas and reached the lower slopes of Everest, while back home he was a member of the Cairngorm Club.

He was an extremely talented accompanist and an excellent pianist, organist and harpsichordist, giving countless recitals in the north-east and across Scotland, often concentrating on chamber music as part of the Aberdeen Trio and in the Morven Duo with his friend of more than 50 years, Raymond Dodd.

Despite having left the classroom in the 1970s, his work with young musicians continued in the ensuing decades. His work with youth choirs and orchestras spanned a wide range of music, but he had a particular fondness for Benjamin Britten's works.

He was heavily involved for many years with the North-east of Scotland Music School (NESMS), on both the teaching and management side. He became an official organ tutor for NESMS three years ago after sparking interest in the instrument with a workshop led by Paisley Abbey's organist George McPhee, which he helped organise. But he wasn't above being a pupil himself, taking cello lessons through the school.

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