Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

Organist David Rumsey dies aged 77

10:39, 14th February 2017

Organist and pedagogue David Rumsey has died following a short illness.

Jeremy Wance announced the news on the American Organ Institute website, describing Rumsey as ‘a talented organist and pedagogue, and a source of an almost infinite wealth of knowledge and experience’

Born in Sydney, Rumsey studied the organ with Donald Hollier and Norman Johnston before travelling to Europe to continue his studies with Jørgen-Ernst Hansen (Copenhagen), Marie-Claire Alain (Paris) and Anton Heiller (Vienna).

In 1967, he took up a position at the University of Adelaide, later becoming senior lecturer at the University of Sydney. He was also well known as a broadcaster, and was a pioneer in FM radio in Australia.

Rumsey was the regular organist with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra for over 25 years, and head of organ and church music at Sydney Conservatorium for 20 years. He settled in Switzerland in November 2000, where he regularly played at Herz Jesu Church in Laufen.

He has written numerous articles about organs, served on many advisory committees, and been involved with numerous important historic restorations, including the 1874 Walker at St Stephen’s, Newtown (Sydney), the 1737/1799 Nacchini/Callido at San Martino (Venice) and the Welte organ at Seewen (Solothurn, Switzerland).

He has also been involved in initiatives including the reconstruction of a gothic organ based in part on a painting by Jan van Eyck, and the complete digitisation of the master roll collection of the Welte company.

Wance concluded his tribute to Rumsey by writing: ‘Thank you, David, for your good cheer, for your omnivorous musicianship, for sharing your knowledge, and, most of all, for your warm friendship. Au revoir!’

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