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DEATH OF EDGAR CREE (article first published : 2002-04-29)

Dr Edgar Cree, who died last week in Durban, was a well-known conductor and broadcaster in South Africa in the years between the second world war and the early 1990s.

Born in Sheffield, England, in 1914, he was only 14 years old when he first conducted as a pupil at Oundle School. He ran away from school to audition for the post of assistant organist at Peterborough Cathedral and, although his father took him back to school, the cathedral kept the job for him and he became the youngest cathedral organist in Britain. Later, he became an organ scholar at Kings College, Cambridge and then trained at the Royal College of Music under Ralph Vaughan Williams.

During the war, Edgar Cree joined the RAF and served as a pilot with Coastal Command. He came to South Africa in 1946 when he joined the SABC as the conductor of their symphony orchestra, a position he held for 28 years. He was also the founder of the Symphony Choir of Johannesburg.

Known as a gifted raconteur, he had his own radio programme for many years and in 1975, he was given the first honorary doctorate in music awarded by the University of Natal. He also conducted in England and Europe and during his retirement, continued to be in demand as a guest conductor of various orchestras including the then Natal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Edgar Cree leaves two daughters Margaret von Klemperer




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