John Amis

The funeral is over and he is laid to rest in Aldeburgh, not far from Benjamin Britten, Peter Pears and Imogen Holst. The last few days have been a wonderful celebration of the life of John Amis, due to the love and support of his many friends the services were very special and … unforgettable.

Thank you so much to you all for the touching messages of love and support. John was a remarkable man, an irreplaceable man who I will never forget. I was blessed to have eight happy years with him. Over the coming months the Trust will celebrate his life with the John Amis – A Concert in Celebration and the Tait Winter Prom on November 26th and a new award, the John Amis Award., more below.

John Amis
John Amis

The funeral for John was held at St Sepulchre-without-Newgate in London on Tuesday 20th August led by John’s old friend, The Reverend John Wates. A witty eulogy from John’s long time friend, and former BBC colleague, Humphrey Burton and memories from another dear friend, Michael Rose were a welcome respite from the grief most of us have been experiencing these past few weeks.

Joanna McCallum; daughter of founding Tait Trust Patrons, Googie Withers and John McCallum, and now a member of the TMT committee, read:

Reading – Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

Joanna McCallum

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time of war, and a time of peace.

Dame Felicity Lott sang a song which was very dear to John, ‘Beim Schlafengehen‘, one of Strauss’ four last songs, accompanied beautifully by Graham Johnson. This was a particularly poignant moment as Dame Felicity visited John near to his death and sang some songs quietly into his ear. Her singing of the Strauss was an unforgettable moment in the service. If John was writing this I am sure he would find a way to better express the joy that she shared with the congregation and most especially to John’s partner, Isla Baring.

John Amis at home
John Amis at home

A lovely recording of John singing, Bilbo’s Song by Donald Swann, was played with his dear friend, Donald Swann singing in harmony and accompanying and a hauntingly beautiful 1927 recording of, The Power of Love by Percy Grainger with the pure tones of Anita Atwater, soprano and Percy Grainger accompanying on the harmonium and Ralph Leopold piano.

The service ended with Steal Away, the famous Negro spiritual arranged by Michael Tippett from ‘A Child Of Our Time’ sung beautifully by, The Choir of St Sepulchre-without-Newgate led by Andrew Earis, Director of Music .

On Wednesday at St Peter and St Paul Church, Aldeburgh a short service was held with a reflection on John’s life by conductor, Steuart Bedford and Humphrey Burton again provided the Eulogy before the committal. This service was marked by the recordings of John whistling and being back in his spiritual home the service had an added colour.

To read the order of service of John’s funeral please download it here

John Amis Memorial Concert, October 8th 2013, St Paul’s Knightsbridge

We all hope you can come to the Memorial Concert on 8th October at St Paul’s Knightsbridge. The concert is being developed with the assistance of Michael Rose and will be a fitting celebration of his life and work. Please watch this space. Artists and the concert repertoire is being confirmed and the theme will most definitely be as broad as the tastes for which John Amis was justly famous. Flanders and Swann to Mahler, Percy Grainger, Wagner and of course Britten and Tippett….plus?

John Amis Award

As we look back at John Amis’ funeral on Tuesday 20th August the idea of a legacy, a tangible way to remember John, has been at the forefront of our thoughts. He was a man of rare talent, and was an inspiration to so many and his life deserves to be fully celebrated.
John Amis by Hoffnung 1958 edited

For the last six years of his life John was a Patron and an active supporter of the Tait Memorial Trust, arranging many successful and popular events and working tirelessly to further the Trust’s work. In recognition of his substantial contribution, Isla Baring OAM, Chairman of the Trust, wishes to create an Award in his honour to be called the John Amis Award.

We have created a JustGiving page in the name of John Amis which is attached to the main TMT JustGiving page. Any money donated via John’s page will go directly to fund this new award. We are delighted to report that the fund has got off to a good start with the generous donations made at John’s funeral and at his committal in Aldeburgh.


GiftaidlogotransparentPlease donate to this award using the button below.

Donate with JustGiving

Save the Date – Tait Winter Prom 2013

We look forward to hearing Dame Gillian Weir, Primavera Shima, Travis Baker and the lovely Valda Wilson again at the 2013 Winter Prom at Holy Trinity, Sloane Square, Chelsea 26 November 2013.

This concert was completely arranged by John Amis. The notes, the artists and the concept was all John’s work. It will be dedicated to his memory.

Tait Winter Prom 2013

Below are some photos of John Amis from 2013

John Amis with Sir Andrew Davis after Elgar Concert at Cadogan Hall, London
John Amis with Sir Willard White
LeonBerger_Alison Swann_JohnAmis_StephanieFlanders.jpg
Leon Berger, Alison Swann, John Amis and Stephanie Flanders
John Amis in the Flanders and Swann evening at 49 Queens Gate Terrace, March 2013
John Amis

Tait Memorial Trust website

©2013 Tait Memorial Trust • Registered charity 1042797

John Amis Award

As we prepare for John Amis’ funeral on Tuesday 20th August the idea of a legacy, a tangible way to remember John has been at the forefront of our thoughts. A life, such as his is a rare occurrence and deserves our very best efforts to remember and celebrate.
John Amis by Hoffnung 1958 edited

For the last six years of his incredible life John Amis was a Patron and an active supporter of the Tait Memorial Trust. The Chairman, Isla Baring OAM, wishes to create an Award in his name to be called the ‘John Amis Award’.

We have created a JustGiving page in the name of John Amis which is attached to the main TMT page. Any money donated via John’s page will go directly to fund this new award.

Donate with JustGiving

John Amis

Six weeks in a bank was enough for him to decide to live by and with music. Selling records and writing about them for a high-class gramophone shop, working with London Philharmonic, Symphony and Royal Philharmonic, organising concerts for Myra Hess at the National Gallery and for Michael Tippett whose secretary-dogsbody and friend he was, concert manager for Beecham, music critic for The Scotsman, organiser of the Summer School of Music with William Glock at Bryanston and Dartington for 34 years, broadcaster on radio and TV for 40, during which time he interviewed some 500 of the most famous and interesting musicians, Hindemith to Bernstein, Cage to Swann, Stravinsky to Stockhausen. He has narrated parts in Façade, Peter and the Wolf, Enoch Arden and Babar the Elephant.

John Amis speaking at the Malcolm Arnold Festival 2011

For his 70th birthday made a CD with friends Leslie Howard, Steve Race, Malcolm Arnold, Donald Swann, Jeffrey Tate and Ian Wallace. His books include an autobiography,Amiscellany, an anthology Words about Music and My Life in Music 1945 – 2000, A Photographer at the Aldeburgh Festival (Nigel Luckhurst) and Musicians on Camera(Lelia Goehr).

John Amis
John Amis

John was a very active blogger. His site John Amis online has a selection of his reviews going back to 2001.

The Archive of over 500 priceless interviews with the leaders of Western music and the Arts is being collected. Watch this space.

John Preston Amis (17 June 1922 – 1 August 2013)

Dear Friends

Darling John died peacefully last night at the Chelsea and Westminster – I was with him at the time.

His last two months have been a struggle – Scotland for a month, then in London for 5 weeks. The doctors and nurses gave him wonderful care and support.

I will miss him enormously, but shall remember all the wonderful times we shared together with so many of our dear friends, and so grateful for the music which brought us together. As Humphrey Burton says, “the very spirit of music…unforgettable and irreplaceable”.

John Preston Amis ( 17 June 1922 - 01 August 2013)
John Preston Amis ( 17 June 1922 – 01 August 2013)

Love, Isla
Isla Baring OAM
Tait Memorial Trust
4/80 Elm Park Gardens
London SW10 9PD
T 020 7351 0561
F 020 7349 0531

John Amis – Critic, Broadcaster and Patron of the TMT

John Amis has lived a life surrounded by the greats of modern British music. At Dulwich College, South London he was close friends with the satirical/ witty composer, Donald Swann. In his professional life Britten, Tippett and Walton, to name a few, were his friends and contemporaries. He followed and nurtured their careers, wrote about their work, broadcast about them on BBC radio and on BBC television, the justly famous, ‘Music Now’ brought his wit and comprehensive knowledge into the nation’s living rooms.

John Amis. A portrait by June Mendoza
John Amis. A portrait by June Mendoza

John is now 91 and is very ill. Thankfully he is being visited by many of his old friends and colleagues, his reaction to them is lovely to witness. Isla and all of the members of the Tait Memorial Trust pray for a swift recovery and ask that you join us in asking for John’s health to be restored to him so he can continue the active life for which he is so famous.

This is a recent portrait of John Amis by the celebrated Australian artist, June Mendoza. This is the John that many of us have come to know and love. We so want him to return.


If you would like to send a personal message to John or wish to pay him a visit please use the contact form attached

A clip of John from the May 1971 BBC broadcast of ‘Music Now’. A special programme made about the premiere of the new Benjamin Britten opera made for Television and commissioned by the BBC, Owen Wingrave.

©2013 Tait Memorial Trust •
Registered charity 1042797