Havelock Nelson OBE
1917 - 5 August 1996
pianist and conductor Havelock J. Nelson PhD DMus who has died in Belfast was one of Northern Ireland's leading musicians.
Born in Cork, he was educated in Dublin where he studied
medical science at Trinity College and music at the Royal Irish Academy of Music. Together
with Constance Harding he co-founded the Dublin Orchestral Players in 1939, an
amateur group set up with the aim of training young players and conductors and
offering public performances of good-quality music, especially Irish music, of
which they gave many premieres. A Quaker and pacifist, he served as a
bacteriologist in the RAF during the war and, in 1947, joined the BBC in Belfast as resident
accompanist, conductor and broadcaster, a post in which he spent the next
thirty years. He was constantly on the look-out for new talent and nurtured
many careers, including several such as Heather Harper, James Galway and Barry
Douglas who later went on to be big names.
Nelson founded and directed the Studio Opera Group in the 1950s in Belfast in order to provide
opportunities for local players and singers to perform major operas in English.
Studio Opera laid the foundation for what later became Castleward Opera. He
also directed the Ulster Singers from 1954. He was a frequent adjudicator at
music competitions internationally and he has an extensive list of compositions
and arrangements for orchestra, chamber ensemble, choir and voice, in addition
to incidental music for some 150 radio plays and television films.
He was awarded
an OBE in 1966 for services to music.
had three children Graham Nelson, Romilly Carter and Alastair Nelson and eight grandchildren.
He was music
Fast and Furious but always
He was coat tails madly
In the silence in a
He was grapefruits for
And old misfunctional
That reeled out black
Pictures of happier
In 1995 he wrote
a book of his life entitled "A Bank of Violets".