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Composer tributes to Tony Fell, MD of Boosey & Hawkes

(January 2012)

Composers pay tribute to Tony Fell, Managing Director of Boosey & Hawkes Music Publishers (1974-96), who died on 6 December aged 79.

Tony Fell modernised the historic publishing company in terms of management, marketing and international outlook, while navigating a series of financial challenges threatening its very existence. Most importantly, he appointed David Drew and together they renewed the emphasis on signing leading contemporary composers from around the world.

Following his retirement from Boosey & Hawkes, Tony Fell was Chairman of the Royal Philharmonic Society (1997-2005), revitalising its mission and establishing a clear focus on giving support to new music and to young musicians.

Composer Tributes

HK Gruber  During the day Tony Fell was the most far-seeing manager one could imagine, steering the company safely through several critical storms. In the evening he would either attend the world premieres and concerts of his composers or would pick up his cello and play string quartets with friends and leaders from the publishing scene. With care and continuity Tony made sure that his composers at Boosey & Hawkes would always feel cherished and well looked after. I owe him countless moments of inspiration and encouragement.

John Adams  I will miss seeing him among a clutch of backstage well-wishers, his eyes popping with excitement and his broad grin beaming away. He was, and he always will remain in my mind as the living example of ‘the Common Man’, that ideal of humanity, optimism and humility imagined by Aaron Copland, a person whom in many ways he so closely resembled.

Elliott Carter  We composers owe Tony Fell a great debt of gratitude for bringing forward the attention of publishers and performing organizations to our world. He took the risk of drawing attention to it,  which had been neglected through concentration on the wonderful past of our art. He realized that the present was producing works that had a liveliness and fascination that the past had when it was produced in its day. What a marvellous thing to do!

James MacMillan  I first met Tony in the Royal Festival Hall when I was conducting The Confession of Isobel Gowdie with the Philharmonia in 1991. A few months later I was meeting him again to discuss my future with Boosey and Hawkes. It was an exciting time for me, and I associate Tony in my mind with those happy days. He was always a joy to be with - his conversations at concert intervals and then in the bar or restaurant afterwards were delightful, expert and thought-provoking. 

Robin Holloway  Behind the brio, one was always aware of the common sense, good judgement, experience, practicality: the complement and compatibility with the late David Drew made for a marvellous team; between them they turned the Company around from near-stagnation towards vitality and health.

Harrison Birtwistle  Tony Fell was known to me as a renowned publisher long before he asked me to join him at Boosey and Hawkes in 1995. This was for me something of a new beginning with the promise of a fresh publisher relationship. Though Tony was soon to retire, through the intervening years the resonance of his presence has remained as mentor and friend. It is this enduring friendship that means most to me.

Steve Reich  Working with Tony was working with a visionary publisher and musician who understood and appreciated the music I and others were composing. He believed a publisher didn’t just print scores, they needed to be active worldwide in seeking performances and advancing the careers of their composers. He succeeded in doing just that. Tony Fell established the model Boosey and Hawkes is still following with such great success.

Also view tribute works composed in memory of Tony Fell by Louis Andriessen and Kurt Schwertsik.
> Louis Andriessen: Shared Memory for oboe and violin
> Kurt Schwertsik: Tony Fell gedenkend for string quartet

> Read obituaries of Tony Fell

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