A LEADING figure in music in High Wycombe and teacher for more than half a century has passed away aged 94.

Peter Goodwin was a music legend, inspiring is pupils at Mill End Road School and High Wycombe College (now Bucks New University) bringing insight into great music through his evening classes and lectures in the Arts Festival, organising performances by famous orchestras and soloists, and personally putting on a stream of orchestral concerts and no fewer than 26 operas with local performers.

Peter Merrick Goodwin was evacuated from Richmond during the war and attended High Wycombe RGS in 1942-3.

He gained his GTCL diploma at Trinity College of Music, London and started teaching in Hayes.

He then moved to Mill End Road School in Wycombe, where his gift for inspiring ordinary children to great heights was evident.

In 1962 he was invited to create a new music department at High Wycombe College of Technology and Art, now Bucks New University (BNU).

This quickly became a major focus for music in High Wycombe, with Peter inaugurating a series of concerts by internationally famous musicians, including the soprano Joan Hammond, pianist Clifford Curzon and cellist Paul Tortelier, as well as arranging concerts by visiting ensembles, including the Amadeus String Quartet, the London Mozart Players, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Sir Adrian Boult.

But Peter’s most remarkable achievement, in his 25 years running the department, was perhaps the 26 operas that he staged, either with the students on his A-level course, or with the adults who joined his opera society.

Peter was a founding committee member of the Wycombe Arts Festival, staging many events with visiting orchestras and celebrities, or with his own High Wycombe Orchestra, often with world-famous soloists such as the cellist Julian Lloyd-Webber.

Peter continued to give music talks at the Arts Festival until well into the new millennium.

Ex RGS student John Comer mentioned Peter in his memoir, “The Old Time.” John took piano lessons from Peter and got drawn into the wider music educational activities that Peter organised, such as trips to London to watch and learn from orchestral rehearsals or to go to the opera.

The section finishes with: “...inspiration which stayed with me for weeks afterwards, giving me such a lift I hardly knew whether my feet were on the planet or not… How could I ever thank Mr Goodwin for everything?”

In 2013 Peter was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by Bucks New University “In recognition of his many years with the institution, and the dedication, enthusiasm and effort he has put into bringing artisan music to High Wycombe, including at least 25 operas.”

Peter was pre-deceased by his sons Nicky and Stephen and his wife Zena, from whom he was divorced.

His daughter Jane still lives in Wycombe, and he leaves seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

A memorial concert in his memory is due to be held in West Wycombe when the coronavirus crisis ends, and organisers would like to hear from friends with memories of Peter.

To send your memories or be kept informed about the memorial concert, email P.M.G.Memorial@gmail.com