UCL News


Memorial concert for Professor Nicolas Coldstream

27 October 2008


Nicolas ucl.ac.uk/chamber-music" target="_self">UCL Chamber Music Club

On 14 October 2008, the UCL Chamber Music Club dedicated a concert to the memory of one of its most loyal members, Professor Nicolas Coldstream, who died on 21 March 2008, aged 80.

Nicolas was Yates Professor of Classical Art &. Archaeology at the UCL Institute of Archaeology. He was one of the world's leading Classical archaeologists, specialising in the study of Iron Age Greece. He was made an Honorary Fellow of UCL in 1994, in addition to holding a host of other national and international honours. Nicolas was also passionate about music and a pianist of great distinction, and so it is fitting that his house in Ebury Street bears a plaque commemorating an earlier musical occupant, Mozart.

Through UCL's Chamber Music Club Nicolas made a huge contribution to the musical life of the university. He joined the Club in 1984, shortly after arriving at UCL, was co-opted on to the committee the following year, and was the Club chairman from 1989-91. Records show that he performed, usually in ensemble, in an average of nearly three Chamber Music Club concerts each year. Although Nicolas performed a wide range of music, it was for his performances of music by Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart and Schubert that he will be best remembered. Apart from a memorable series of performances of piano duets with Dora Thornton, the musician with whom he most often played was the violinist Professor David Bogle (UCL Chemical Engineering and Head of UCL Graduate School). Indeed, both were busy with colleagues rehearsing a Brahms piano quartet for performance at UCL at the time of Nicolas's death.

It was through Nicolas that, from 1997, the UCL Chamber Music Club had the privilege of being able to host an annual recital by pupils of the Yehudi Menuhin School. It seems that when Nicolas first joined the club it provided the impetus for him to take piano lessons once more. His teacher was Ruth Nye, and it was through her links with the Menuhin School that the annual UCL Menuhin School concerts began. The 12th of these concerts was held on 13 March this year, with Nicolas presiding, only a week before his death.

A lasting testament to Nicolas's love of music and his commitment to UCL was the central role he played, in 1989, in the acquisition of the Club's treasured Steinway B concert grand piano Along with Professor John Lindon (UCL Italian) he approached the then Provost, Sir James Lighthill (no mean pianist himself) and successfully persuaded him to find the means to cover the shortfall in the club's piano fund. Within a week of the funding being confirmed, the piano was in place for its inaugural concert, and ever since it has been central to the club's concert activities.

Nicolas's widow Nicola has generously donated his impressive collection of chamber music to the Club, and it will soon be incorporated into the club's library for the use of all the membership.

So, Nicolas's legacy to the Club and to the musical life of UCL has been enormous. Thank you Nicolas, We will miss you very much.

Image: John Nicolas Coldstream, archaeologist, born March 30 1927; died March 21 2008