Reminiscences of Jane at Winchester by Richard Price
I was a boy at Winchester College from 1961 to 1965 and had cello lessons first from John Gwilt and later from Jane. I was not an ideal pupil, since I preferred the piano and practised it more. But Jane overlooked my failings with her customary generosity. She taught me to throw all the expression I was capable of into the Brahms E minor cello sonata. There are two anecdotes I can relate that illustrate her passionate commitment to music.
She told me of an occasion she walked into one of the Winchester housemasters; I shall be kind and not give his name. He said to her, with reference to one of her then favourite pupils (Jonathan Ferry), ‘I hope you don’t give Ferry too much cello playing this term. I want him to play cricket.’ As you may imagine, Jane responded with vigour. When the housemaster tried to pursue the argument, she replied, ‘I refuse to continue for a moment longer this obscene conversation about the merits of sport compared to music!’ and continued on her way.
Another story she told a group of us boys was that she had just visited a musical friend who was desperately ill in hospital. He (I confess it may have been a she — I don’t remember) refused to talk about his own condition, and pressed Jane with questions about their mutual musical acquaintances. In the middle of her reply he fainted with pain. ‘Now that,’ said Jane to us, ‘is the spirit of a real musician!’
These are extreme examples of Jane in action. But they display a passionate commitment to music without which it could descend into no more than part of the entertainment industry. Jane stood out most prominently in the Winchester of my schooldays, when the school was, frankly, sitting on its laurels, and an atmosphere of quiet and genteel conformism prevailed.