Obituary: Antony Hopkins

Explaining the intricacies of classical music to a worldwide audience in a form of language that any layman could understand seemed just the job for Antony Hopkins. To undertake the task from 1948 to 1992, first on BBC Radio 3, then on Radio 4, proved that he was the right choice. The programme, syndicated around the world, was called Talking About Music.

A trip to a summer school for pianists in Austria in 1937 convinced Hopkins that he wanted to devote his life to being a musician. At the Royal College of Music, he studied harmony and composition.

He had intended to become a teacher, but he became involved with the Michael Tippett circle. In 1944, Tippett asked him to compose incidental music for a production of Christopher Marlowe’s play Doctor Faustus at the Liverpool Playhouse. After that, the poet Louis MacNeice commissioned him to write music for a radio play.

Within a short time, Hopkins had 19 radio scores to his credit. The demands for his music increased and, for about 15 years, he earned most of his living from composing. But during the 1950s, the work died down and Hopkins turned more towards broadcasting, lecturing and adjudicating.

Teaching at the RCM, he was disappointed at what he saw as the low standard of entrants. He once said: “Either they must be very talented or very pretty. Otherwise, I won’t take them on.”

Antony Hopkins, who was born on March 21, 1921, died on May 6, aged 93.