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Professor Peter Dickinson

School, 1948-53

Professor Peter Dickinson combined parallel careers in a lifetime of extraordinary musical achievement. As a composer, his wide repertoire ranged from his organ, piano and violin concertos to smaller and lighter works. As Professor Emeritus of the Universities of both Keele and London, he taught and inspired many of today’s leading musicians and established specialist expertise in American music among other fields. Peter also wrote highly regarded books on music and musicians including Lennox Berkeley, John Cage and Aaron Copland. Words and Music, a summary of his own career, was published in 2016. He was an accomplished pianist performing in a very large number of concerts and recordings of composers such as Erik Satie. For over 20 years he ran a music education charity formed with the musicologist Dr Bernarr Rainbow, the Rainbow Dickinson Trust, helping hundreds of musical endeavours.

Peter arrived at The Leys as a music scholar in 1948, his housemaster in School House being H S Davies who was also the Director of Music. He was a leading participant in music at the School, organising concerts and winning many competitions. He was also a Queen’s Scout in the 60th Cambridge (The Leys) troop. Subsequently gaining an organ scholarship to Queens’ College, Cambridge, he then spent three formative years in New York including a year at the Juilliard School, before beginning his varied musical career in the UK. He married Bridget Tomkinson in 1964, who survives him together with sons Jasper and Francis (School, 1987-89). Peter kept in contact with The Leys throughout his life, giving his advice, time and expertise as well as making several gifts to the School.

Words by Francis Dickinson, School 1987-89