Derek Simpson (cellist)

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Derek Simpson (29 March 1928 – 22 June 2007) was an English cellist, known primarily from his work with the Aeolian Quartet, and as the teacher of many contemporary cellists.


Simpson was born in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, to musician parents, and started playing the cello at 10 years old. At 19 he moved to London to study at the Royal Academy of Music. In 1952 he won the Suggia Prize, which gave him the chance to study in Paris for a year, with the famous cellist Pierre Fournier.[1] On his return to England, Simpson soon got work both for the Brighton Philharmonic, the London Chamber Orchestra, and as a solo performer.

In 1956 he received an offer to join the very prestigious Aeolian String Quartet. He remained with the quartet until it disbanded in 1981. The ensemble, among other things, made a complete recording of Haydn's string quartets – a project that took six years to complete. Simpson also had time for other projects, however, and his playing can be heard on The Beatles' singles Eleanor Rigby[1] and Strawberry Fields Forever.[2][3]

He taught at the Royal Academy of Music, where several of his many pupils took part in memorial tribute concerts in January and February 2008 (see External Links). He was among the teachers of Raphael Wallfisch.[4] Among his active pupils are: Angela East,[5] Benedict Rogerson,[6] Mary Pells,[7] Justin Pearson,[8] Hafliði Hallgrímsson,[9] Robert Ibell,[10] Susan Sheppard,[11] Sebastian Comberti[12][13] and Alasdair Strange.[14] Many of his students share an interest in historically informed performance.

Simpson was married three times; his last wife was his colleague in the Aeolian Quartet, Margaret Major. His first wife, Fiona Cameron, was the daughter of his teacher Douglas Cameron, and a concert pianist with whom he would occasionally perform. With Fiona he had two children. He also had a third son who died in a car accident in 1972.[1]

Selected recordings[edit]

and recordings with the Aeolian Quartet.


  1. ^ a b c "Derek Simpson". The Times. London. 24 August 2007. Retrieved 17 September 2008.
  2. ^ "Oldies about page". Retrieved 4 January 2012.
  3. ^ "Beatles Bible website". Retrieved 4 January 2012.
  4. ^ "Wallfisch biography page". Retrieved 4 January 2012.
  5. ^ Angela East profile Archived 3 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Ben Rogerson profile". 10 October 1972. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
  7. ^ "Mary Pells profile". Retrieved 4 January 2012.
  8. ^ "Justin Pearson profile". Retrieved 4 January 2012.
  9. ^ "Hallgrímsson profile (Chester/Novello Music)". Retrieved 4 January 2012.
  10. ^ Robert Ibell on New Zealand Symphony Orchestra webpage Archived 15 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "Susan Sheppard Profile at Trinity College of Music Greenwich webpage". 12 December 2011. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
  12. ^ "Sebastian Comberti profile in ''Trio Goya'' at Maggie Cole Webpage". Retrieved 4 January 2012.
  13. ^ "Comberti profile at Divertimenti Webpage". Retrieved 4 January 2012.
  14. ^ "Alasdair Strange profile". Retrieved 4 January 2012.

External links[edit]