Obituary

8th February 2008 at 00:00
Nigel Murray, who spent 25 years teaching at St Mary's Music School in Edinburgh, died in November, five days after his 64th birthday.

One of the most gifted, respected and beloved musicians in Scotland, he was equally at home among the mountain tops of his native Scotland, climbing in the Himalayas, or taking a place in the ranks of the foremost international orchestras.

He grew up in Aberdeen with music all around him. His father, David Murray, was director of music at St Machar's Cathedral in Aberdeen, head of music at a city school, and had worked at Haddo House with Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears. Nigel himself was a dedicated and inspirational teacher and, in addition to his years at St Mary's, he coached the Edinburgh Youth Orchestra, Grampian Region Orchestra and Lothian Region Orchestra.

Nigel had been a member of the Associated Board examining committee, the Live Music Now auditioning panel and the European String Teachers' Association. He also spent more than 30 years teaching violin privately, and a number of his pupils scored major successes in international music festivals, including the grand final of the Audi Junior Musician in 1992 and 1994 and the semi-finals of the BBC Young Musician of the Year. He himself had been a prizewinner in the International Beethoven Competition in 1970 and held awards from the Caird Trust and the Cross Trust.

After leaving St Mary's in 1996, he spent three years as director of the Lochaber Music School, where he taught the same subjects. His time there, he said, greatly helped him to work with people of widely differing abilities. He had a particular interest in coaching chamber music and in developing a new generation of string teachers.

Nigel's other great passion was hillwalking and climbing, and in 1995 he achieved his target of reaching the summit of all Scotland's Munros. He often took his students on these forays where they found the time and space to listen to the music and rhythms of nature, which helped to make him the musician and the man that he was.

He might have been surprised at the crowd of old and young who came to his thanksgiving service in Edinburgh's Stockbridge Church, and by the tributes paid, for he was a modest man. The hymns included his favourite Psalm 121 - "I to the hills will lift mine eyes" and one that spoke of "craftsman's art and music's measure".

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