Dr Havelock Nelson OBE

HAVELOCK NELSON died last August, but I have not felt able to write about him until now

HAVELOCK NELSON died last August, but I have not felt able to write about him until now. He was so much a part of my life for the last thirty years that I find it hard to come to terms with the fact that he is no longer with us. If the words "eminent" and "distinguished" could apply to anyone, they certainly applied to him. in addition to the OBE for his services to music he had two decorates from TCD (Science and Music), honorary doctorates from four universities and a Fellowship from the RIAM.

Havelock was a musician of the highest calibre, in demand worldwide as a conductor, accompanist, composer, arranger and adjudicator. In his early days in Dublin he co founded the Dublin Orchestral Players, which are still flourishing. He then moved to Belfast, where he spent most of his life. His work in Northern Ireland will long be remembered with BBC radio and television, and in the operatic and orchestral fields.

Not as many people may know of his work in the West Indies. While adjudicating the Music Festival in Trinidad and Tobago, he recognised the extraordinary vocal talent of the young singers and immediately decided to organise a platform to give them more performing experience. The first step was the formation of the Recital Club, followed in 1976 by the founding of the Trinidad and Tobago Opera Company. This company, with, Havelock at the helm, staged many highly successful productions during a period of well over a decade. Many of the singers, nurtured and encouraged by him, went on to international careers.

Havelock was the most sympathetic and compatible of sonata partners and accompanists, a generous colleague and a perfect travelling companion. If asked for one word to describe him I would say "magnetic" wherever he was, people gathered. An abiding memory of this period is of an end of opera season party in Trinidad, sitting out beside the swimming pool under a tropical night sky. Havelock was surrounded by about 50 people - of all ages - sitting on the ground and hanging on his every word. Everybody loved him, because he was genuinely interested in people of every status and walk in life.


His wife Hazel died in 1983, and that left a huge gap in his life, but the Nelsons were a very close, family and I know he found great consolation in the company of his sons, Graham and Alistair, his daughter Romilly and his beloved grandchildren. We offer them and their families our very deep sympathy. We - his extended family - will also miss him greatly. He was an inspiration to musicians of all ages, amateur and professional. He enriched our lives beyond measure.

Thank you, dear Havelock. May you rest in peace.