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On 27 January 2018, a Service of Thanksgiving for the life of Gary Waller, the late Chairman of the Gustav Mahler Society (UK) was held at London’s St Stephen & St John Church, Victoria, to celebrate his achievements, not only in his work for our Society but in his political and leisure activities too.

The Church was well filled by approximately 75-100 colleagues and friends from the Society, from the Epping Forest District & Sheering Parish Councils, from the Harlow Constituency Conservative Association plus two local MPs, Mrs Eleanor Laing MP (Epping Forest) and the Right Honourable Robert Halfon MP (Harlow) together with other past and present members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

The service was planned by Gary’s family and led by his son Jonathan, jointly with the Reverend Graham Buckle and reflected the wide-ranging nature of Gary’s interests: music, politics, watches, antiques, vintage cars all received a mention.

Music inevitably looms large in any celebration of Gary’s life. Charlotte Hoather, a young soprano, sang some of Gary’s favourites songs including Schubert’s delightful “An Sylvia” and Mahler’s youthful “Fruhlingsmorgen” with piano accompaniment by Waka Hasegawa.

Charlotte in her own address paid eloquent tribute to Gary and in particular to his friendship and keenness to support her singing career.

The Society’s Acting Chairman, Anthony Raumann paid eloquent tribute to Gary’s work on behalf the music of Mahler. He referred to Gary’s enthusiasm for the composer, in part reflected in his own Czech roots. In particular, Gary’s great enjoyment of his visits with the Society to Austria and the Czech Republic to gain new insights into the composer’s life, and his great enjoyment of a trip to Paris for a Mahler performance in the new Philharmonie concert hall in Paris would stay in the minds of all who travelled with him.

As Anthony put it: “Gary’s journey through life has been one of fulfilment. His outlook was always positive and all-embracing from politics to the arts – wrapped in in an equal measure of conviction, service to his country and community and enjoyment of the rich tapestry of life.”

Gary’s political life was the subject of a touching address by the Right Honourable Robert Halfon MP. Gary had become the President of the Harlow Conservative Association after he left the House of Commons in 1997.

As Mr Halfon explained, ”Day after day, week after week, month after month Gary would go out canvassing to help me and the Conservative Councillors to be elected”, except, that is, on one famous occasion when he had to cry off after fulsome apologies as he had another important engagement: a Gustav Mahler Society Committee meeting!

A feature of his role as Society Chairman was his relaxed and winning way of resolving differences. Mr Halfon emphasised that he conducted his Presidency of the Association in exactly the same winning way.

To end his address, Mr Halfon quoted Gustav Mahler‘s own approach to life with the words:

“The point is not to take the world’s opinion as a guiding star but to go one’s own way in life and working unerringly, neither depressed by failure nor seduced by applause.”

This is a sentiment with which Gary, our late lamented Chairman, would have endorsed wholeheartedly.



From Jim Pritchard

It is with deep sadness that the GMS UK announces the sudden passing of its chairman Gary Waller. I always enjoyed being in Gary's company and was pleased that someone indeed so passionate about Mahler could relieve me of the chairmanship and take the Society from strength to strength. It is fitting that the most recent issue of The Wayfarer featured a photo of him enjoying the visit to Paris in May on its first page. I have added my condolences to those forwarded on behalf of the members and friends of the GMS UK to Gary's son, Jonathan, to Jonathan's mother, Fay Okita (Gary's former partner) and the rest of his family.

From Anthony Raumann

I am shocked to learn about Gary's death and respected him for his commitment not only to the Gustav Mahler Society UK but also to other charitable concerns whilst taking on the stress of his work as a councillor for Epping Forest Council.

From Ian Willett

Gary has been our chairman since 2012. Anyone who met him will have been struck by the huge commitment he had to the Society and to the promotion and appreciation of Mahler's music, a subject on which he was very knowledgeable. Under his chairmanship the Society has continued to improve its profile, has seen a steady growth in membership, has provided financial support to musicians and concerts dedicated to Mahler and has extended the range of its events.

He has been an avuncular figure, with much humour and a deceptively relaxed manner which belied the air of authority he exuded in everything he did. His work for the Society has run in parallel with a political career which began as an MP in a northern constituency - Brighouse and Spenborough and then Keighley - during Mrs Thatcher's premiership (a source of many interesting anecdotes) before moving to local politics in Epping Forest where he became a senior member of the cabinet.

In between times, he somehow found time to indulge his passion for Jaguar motor cars, of which he was a proud owner, exhibiting at rallies far and wide. He also pursued his many other interests in the world of music and the arts generally. Gary's contribution to the Society will be much missed and the committee has lost a valued colleague and a true friend.

Click here for further tributes for Gary's work on Epping Forest District Council and the district council flag in Epping has been lowered as a mark of respect.



The GMSUK has been informed of the death at 92 of Henry-Louis de La Grange. Not only for his lifelong work on Mahler but especially for his hospitality to some of us on a past Mahler Composing Huts Tour this is sad news for GMS UK members.

On 20 December 1945, the young Henry-Louis de La Grange heard Mahler's music for the first time when his Ninth Symphony was performed by the New York Philharmonic under Bruno Walter who was a pupil of the composer. Impressed by this music, he began to study the author, met his widow, Alma Mahler, and Bruno Walter ... all giving birth, in 1973, to the first of what eventually was four volumes on Mahler's life.

'I believed in Mahler from the moment I heard his music. Something in me happened and it made clear the fact that I work for him. I would not be me if I had not discovered Mahler. I was immediately passionate about his fights, for the smallest detail of his life. His genius fascinated me.'

The GMS UK sends its condolences to his family and friends.



GMS UK was delighted to hear some time ago that a book of essays was in preparation, which would be the second Festschrift (commemorative publication,) to honour Henry-Louis De La Grange. The title of this second publication is Naturlauf – Scholarly Journeys Toward Gustav Mahler – Essays in Honour of Henry-Louis De La Grange for His 90th Birthday.

The first Festschrift was published in 1997 and the second is newly available. It is prefaced by messages of congratulation on De La Grange’s 90th birthday and contains new research on Mahler and his music, encompassing historical, theoretical and aesthetic studies. Among the contributors are Jeremy Barham and Peter Franklin who have spoken to the GMS UK at our Study Days, as well as GMS UK member David Littlewood.

Henry-Louis De La Grange – his work
For those who are not familiar with Henry-Louis De La Grange (who was granted the title of Professor by the Austrian Government,) he is a noted musicologist, music critic and biographer of Gustav Mahler. The child of a French father and an American mother, he first heard Mahler’s music in 1945 at New York’s Carnegie Hall when Bruno Walter conducted the Ninth Symphony. In common with many GMS UK members, Professor De La Grange quickly developed a passion for Mahler’s music.

After attending Yale University School of Music and later studying piano, harmony, counterpoint and analysis in France (under Nadia Boulanger among others,) Professor De La Grange began to research Mahler’s works and life. He met Gustav’s widow Alma and became a close friend of their daughter Anna. His definitive biography of Mahler was written in several volumes between the mid-seventies and mid-eighties. His extensive materials and documents, providing a rich archive of the composer and his time, are now part of the multimedia library Bibliothèque Gustav Mahler.

Henry-Louis de La Grange – meeting the man
The GMS UK’s second tour of Austria in 2008, to visit Mahler’s composing huts, had the final destination of Toblach. The town lies in a corner of Austria that was lost to Italy in the First World War; consequently the name changed to Dobbiaco. The GMS UK tour coincided with Dobbiaco’s music festival, the Settimani Musicale Gustav Mahler.

To our great delight we learned that Professor De La Grange had his summer residence in Dobbiaco! First, he met us within sight of Die Drei Zinnen, the three Dolomite peaks that feature in a photograph of Mahler who is heading off for a customary brisk walk. Our group walked less briskly with Professor De La Grange, taking our photograph in the same place as Mahler and returning with our lunch guest to the nearby inn at Fischleinboden, in sight of the Three Peaks.

In return Professor De La Grange invited us to visit him at his summer residence two days later where he showed us around the garden, inviting us to pick and nibble the raspberries. Indoors he talked for an hour about Gustav’s widow Alma, difficulties in obtaining documents, the Dobbiaco Mahler festival and about his hopes for the archive of his materials. We, of course, listened enraptured, drinking in every anecdote and idea and disappointed that the encounter had to end after an hour. Shortly afterwards the GMS UK received a letter from Professor De La Grange, telling us that our visit had been the highlight of HIS summer. We would certainly have put that the other way around!

We know that the Professor’s 90th birthday is now some time in the past, but as the GMS UK considers the Professor a friend rather than a distant musicologist, we are especially pleased at the publication of the Festschrift, and we send him our belated birthday wishes.