Edward Clark became President of the UK Sibelius Society in 1990 after an introduction through the Finnish Embassy to the founder of the Society, Andrew Barnett. Andrew had worked abroad for a number of years with his Finnish wife Kyllikki, and was then based in Yorkshire; it was thought sensible to have a London-based Society representative. Since then more than forty concerts have been hosted by the Society including a wide range of Sibelius’s music not normally heard in our concert halls, including four British Sibelius premières, Society publications have been made available and seminars are held annually at the Finnish Institute in London
Edward Clark was born in the Royal town of Windsor in August 1947. His father had inherited his grandfather’s garage business established in 1924 and built it to a pre-eminence that led the Queen to grant her Royal Warrant to A A Clark Ltd for services rendered to her household.
Educated initially at the Haileybury Junior School in Windsor (now re-developed as luxury flats and houses!) Edward attended Haileybury College at Hertford between 1961 and 1965. It was at school that a love for music in general and Sibelius in particular was developed. Although the Beatles reigned supreme with Edward (every six weeks he bought a new stunning double-sided 45 rpm record) he was openly hostile to classical music until he experienced a music lesson from the school violin teacher, David Thompson. He played his instrument for half an hour and asked for volunteers to learn under him for the school orchestra. The young Edward gingerly put his hand up and the rest, you might say, is history.
Never fully mastering this complex instrument (though rising to the position of leader of the school orchestra), Edward began an odyssey of musical investigation that continues today. His teacher introduced him to Sibelius (David Thompson was proficient enough to perform Sibelius’s fiercely difficult Violin Concerto with the orchestra), a composer so different in sound to the Austro-German tradition that the wonderful Third Symphony made an immediate impression. Edward requested this work on the BBC Third Programme Record Request programme in 1964 and, to his house master’s surprise, the producer turned up to interview Edward about his reasons for choosing what was then a little known work. The BBC thoughtfully broadcast it later that day during Edward’s music class and he was subject to much ribbing!
Edward’s questing approach to all things to do with serious music has continued, though a certain amount of coaching was necessary to equip him with the skills to conduct a concert at St James’s, Piccadilly, of works by Mozart and Sibelius to celebrate his 50th birthday in 1997. Edward received the Sibelius Medal in 1994 for services to the understanding of Sibelius in Great Britain. In 2006 he took a sabbatical to write a personal memoir, ‘Sibelius Reflections’, now available through the Society web site and described by the Sibelius authority Robert Layton as an ‘eloquent collection of essays’.