MC:F61 Papers of Bernard Rose (F. and Organist 1957-81)
Bernard William George Rose (1916–96) was Organ Scholar at St. Catharine’s College Cambridge from 1935–9, and then moved to the Queen’s College, Oxford, where he became Organist and Tutor in Music in 1939. During the Second World War, Rose first fought in North Africa as one of the “Desert Rats”, taking part in the North African campaign, and later joined in the invasion of Normandy in 1944, but was captured in France and spent the rest of the war as a POW in Germany (where some of the pieces of music listed below were written). He returned to Oxford, and became a Fellow of Queen’s in 1949 and was appointed a University Lecturer in Music in 1950. In 1957 he moved to Magdalen to become Organist and Informator Choristarum, where he also became the first Organist there to be elected a Fellow.
Under Rose’s direction the choir soon regained the high reputation which it had enjoyed under such predecessors as John Stainer or John Varley Roberts, and Rose should be classed among them as one of the most significant Organists in Magdalen’s history. Many former organ scholars, clerks and choristers from his time went on to successful careers as professional musicians, including Dudley Moore, David Wulstan, the founder of the Clerkes of Oxenford, and Harry Christophers, the founder of the Sixteen.
Rose’s arrival at Magdalen was undoubtedly made easier by the fact that, just before his arrival, the College had decided to replace all the remaining lay clerks with academic clerks, so that they had all gone within three years of his arrival. Rose has more than once been credited with this reform himself, but it is now clear that the decision had been made in 1956 at the suggestion of another former Organist, Sir William McKie.
On his retirement in 1981, Rose became an Emeritus Fellow. Just before his death in 1996, the College created in his honour a Rose Medallion, to be worn by the Deputy Senior Chorister. He had been appointed an OBE in 1980 for service to music.
Rose composed music throughout his life, and although he once modestly described himself as “a typical Kapellmeister composer”, several of his compositions were published and have been widely performed ever since. Undoubtedly his most successful and frequently performed work is the set of Preces and Responses for five-part choir which were published in 1961 (MC:F61/MS1/46–48), and were quickly taken up by Anglican choirs everywhere.
The greater part of the documents in the Rose papers are the manuscripts of Rose’s original compositions and his transcriptions and editions of other people’s music, but there are a handful of lecture notes and other papers.
The papers in this collection were presented to the College by Bernard Rose’s family. MCF61/MS4/11–12 & 26 and MC:F61/X1/1 were found in some of his books which had been presented to the Library, and were transferred to the archives in April 1999 as Accession No. 99/87, while all the remaining items in this collection came to the archives in May 2011 as Accession no. 11/66.
The Archivist is most grateful to Rose’s eldest son, Graham, and to his second son Gregory (who was an Academical Clerk at Magdalen in 1967–70, and read Music under his father’s tuition), for their assistance in the preparation of this catalogue, in particular for supplying various pieces of information about Rose’s life and some of the dedicatees of his music.
Catalogued in August 2014.
The collection is divided into the following series: