Scottish obituaries: Daphne Godson, accomplished violinist and founding member of the Scottish Baroque Ensemble


Daphne Godson pictured while performing with the Scottish Early Music Consort

Violinist Daphne Godson was born in 1932 at 7 Stanley Street, Portobello, Edinburgh: her full name was Edith Muriel Daphne Godson. She was the youngest in the family, her father being over 50 and her mother over 40 when she was born. Her father worked as a civil servant.

The family moved to Bruntsfield Place, but Daphne and one of her brothers were evacuated for a while when war was declared. She attended the primary department of James Gillespie’s Girls’ High School and then George Watson’s Ladies’ College. At least part of his musical education involved the Waddell School of Music. She was good at languages ​​at school so it was uncertain whether she would make a career as a musician.

Daphne grew up in a family that was interested in culture, music and literature. His father was a keen amateur musician – a singer in the church choir of St Mark’s, Portobello and then Christ Church, Morningside, a cellist and violinist. His mother was a pianist who continued to take lessons into adulthood. Daphne appointed Petrie Dunn, Walter Cameron, Dr. Mary Grierson and Margaret Portcho as piano teachers, so her mother must have been talented.

Daphne left school in 1949 and had a “gap year” to work for her grade 8 violin and piano exams. She received a Dove scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Music in London in April 1950 and passed her license examination in June 1950. She took lessons with the Canadian violinist Frederick Grinke who was the conductor of the Boyd Neel Orchestra. The music she worked on included concertos by Bartók and William Walton.

In 1954, she obtained a scholarship from the Belgian government to take lessons with Professor André Gertler at the Brussels Conservatory and obtained a first prize with distinction in her class the following year. In 1957, at the age of 24, she won first prize in an international violin competition organized during the Darmstadt Contemporary Music Festival in Germany. The same year, in December, she took part in the Third Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition in Poland. The judges included David Oistrakh and Yehudi Menuhin was an honorary member of the jury. There were six winners and six winners and Daphne was one of the latter and the only British success, winning 2,000 zlotys.

She returned to Edinburgh and the first time her name appeared in the Radio Times was in January 1959. In 1963 there was a concert in Gateshead when Daphne played a concertino by Hans Gál, newly retired from the University of Edinburgh.

In 1969 Daphne was one of the founding members of the still flourishing Scottish Baroque Ensemble as the Scottish Ensemble, considered the finest string orchestra in the UK. She traveled extensively with the group, in the United States in 1976, in the United States and Canada in 1978 (28 eventful concerts in 34 days) and in 1981. There was a tour in Germany and Austria and another in Israel in 1982. One year Daphne went to Iceland with Scottish Opera, performing operas by Benjamin Britten, performed at Snape Maltings in Suffolk in 1975 in Scottish Opera’s performance of Don Giovanni and of course there had gigs all over Scotland.

She also performed with chamber formations such as the Bernicia Ensemble, the Pegasus Trio and later the Merlyn Trio. Early music became fashionable and Daphne acquired a medieval five-string fiddle and joined the Scottish Early Music Consort, recording a CD of music from the time of Mary, Queen of Scots. Daphne was the conductor of the orchestra accompanying the Edinburgh Bach Society Choir.

Daphne began teaching violin and was employed at the City of Edinburgh School of Music at Broughton High and Flora Stevenson Primary. She was highly respected as an “old school” teacher. Later she performed with the Glasgow Philharmonic.

When Daphne retired from certain commitments, for example in 1996 after teaching at music school, she had more time to explore other interests such as walking, keeping fit, painting and joining the choir of the Botanical Garden, which led her to volunteer indoors. once a week. She has been on National Trust and Scottish painting holidays and garden tours with other groups. In the summer, she enjoyed attending lectures as part of the Edinburgh Book Festival. She regularly attended Canonmills Baptist Church where she had the opportunity to perform at special services and also at Tom Fleming’s funeral.

Retirement has given Daphne more vacation opportunities. Renee Simm, who owned art shop Greyfriars, retired to Orkney and Daphne enjoyed staying in Stromness. Miss Simm was friends with the Orcadian poet, George Mackay Brown, so Daphne met him there. Mentioning Orkney to Daphne in her later years always produced a smile.

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