In Memory of Nicholas Temperley

The University of Illinois Press notes with great sadness the passing of Nicholas Temperley on April 8. Professor Temperley published two books with the Press, Bound for America: Three British Composers (2003) and, as coeditor with Stephen Banfield, Music and the Wesleys (2010). He also, as a member of the musicology faculty at UIUC, had important connections with UI Press staff. Margo Chaney assisted with the massive Hymn Tune Index project, originally published by Oxford University Press and now accessible as an online database through the UI Library. He was a founder and champion of the Baroque Artists of Champaign (UI professor Chester Alwes, founding director), providing witty and informative program notes over many years. Beyond Illinois, his critical editions and leadership roles in scholarly societies opened up the fields of nineteenth-century British music and English popular church music, fields he continued to shape throughout his long career. 

But Nicholas Temperley was more than an erudite scholar. He was a dedicated practicing musician. Indeed, speaking personally, though I did work with Nicholas on Music and the Wesleys, my closest collaborations and fondest memories were musical. For many years I have been included in the Temperley Carolers, performing Nicholas’s own carol compositions and arrangements for private house parties, singing first from bound volumes of Nicholas’s handwritten manuscript and more recently out of the published compilation Christmas is Coming (Stainer and Bell, 2009). Margo and I joined the chorus in many a Gilbert and Sullivan production hosted by Nicholas and his wife, Mary, in their home. These were often presented for the North American British Studies Association, with Nicholas as impresario and accompanist. I also had the pleasure of preparing a number of duet programs with Mary Temperley, perhaps most memorably an extended, semi-staged excerpt from John Gay’s Beggars Opera for the Urbana Music Club, with Nicholas in period costume at the keyboard. 

Accomplished scholar-musician; reserved British professor with a keen curiosity and a quiet sense of humor; historian and performer with a passion for music both deep and wide: Nicholas Temperley will be greatly missed.

-Laurie Matheson

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