Lance Dossor concert - Tony Cunnane's Autobiography

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Lance Dossor concert


I took this photograph of Wakefield Playhouse in 2007. Nowadays, it is in a pretty dilapidated condition outside: I have never been inside since 1953 but in the early 1950s there were regular classical music concerts there, often featuring the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra.
It seems obvious from my diaries that I was still in denial about the ending of my chosen career in music, in spite of being unable to get a 6th Form place at either of the city's grammar schools. For example, on 22 February 1953 I went to the Wakefield Playhouse for a concert by the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra; Lance Dossor was the soloist in Grieg’s Piano Concerto and the concert ended with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. After the concert, when the final applause had barely died away, I made my way onto the stage to talk to one of the violinists in the orchestra. Shyness was not one of my faults!

I can remember the conversation very well even without reference to my diary. I explained my personal situation and the violinist gave me the name and address of a violin and viola teacher he could recommend. He suggested I might like to consider changing to viola since there was always a shortage of good viola players. I told him I'd already thought of that myself, which was true but it was a bit ungrateful of me to mention it. I saw the look in the eyes of the helpful violinist as he decided I was an impertinent young man. When I spoke to my parents the following day about the concert and my conversation with the violinist, Dad told me, out of the blue, that they needed to sell our piano which had been purchased two years earlier to help me with my music studies at Salford Grammar School. I suddenly realised that my parents were still very short of money so I made no further mention of violin, or viola, lessons and said I was happy for them to sell the piano.

Lance Dossor was a name I'd forgotten until I came across it in my diary when writing this page. The Internet told me what I wanted to know about him. He was born Harry Lancelot Dossor in Weston-super-Mare in 1916. It seems he himself used to tell the story about his introduction to the great Russian pianist and composer Serge Rachmaninov, who was in London for a series of concerts and recitals. Another famous British pianist, Cyril Smith, did the introductions. Cyril introduced Lance as: "A very promising young pianist who has recently been successful in the Chopin prize competition in Warsaw, Poland". Rachmaninov responded, cruelly, in his heavy Russian accent: "Ah, but who were the judges?"

Lance Dossor emigrated to Australia a few weeks after I heard him in Wakefield’s Playhouse and he remained there until he retired in 1979. He died in Adelaide in 2005.

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