Remembering Malcolm Troup, founder of City’s Department of Music

Malcolm Troup obituary written by Steve Stanton, Professor Emeritus of Music and Performing Arts, School of Arts & Social Sciences.

Professor Malcolm TroupMalcolm Troup was born in Toronto, Canada. Musically precocious by the age of nine, he had already begun to compose, winning several Canadian Publishers awards, as well as gaining a scholarship to the Royal Conservatory in Toronto. His debut as pianist with the orchestra of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation at the age of seventeen marked the beginning of a series of successful engagements which finally brought him to the attention of the distinguished German pianist, Walter Gieseking, under whom he completed his studies. This was followed by his first major concert tour, taking him coast-to-coast across Canada.

Meanwhile, in London, he was awarded the Harriet Cohen Commonwealth Medal, one of the International Music Prizes established by the late Sir Arnold Bax, past Master of the Queen’s Music.

In 1967 Malcolm Troup was designated Honorary Professor of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences of the University of Chile, following his series of lectures, in Spanish, on the subject of contemporary music.

It was for his thesis on the work of the French composer Olivier Messiaen that, also in 1967, he was awarded his doctorate from the University of York. And twenty-one years later, not only did Troup and Messiaen participate together in the Australian Bicentennial Celebrations, but they were also reunited at the Guildhall when, on the occasion of the composer’s eightieth birthday, he presented Messiaen for an Honorary Doctorate of City University. Throughout his performing career he championed Messiaen’s music; his complete recording of the composer’s “Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus” was received with much critical acclaim.

In 1968, he joined the teaching staff of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and, by 1970, he had been appointed Director of Music.

From there he went on, in 1975, to create and establish a new undergraduate degree at City, a Bachelor of Science in music, the first of its kind in Britain and which, from the outset, was designed to bridge the gap between music as an art and music as a science. In contrast to the majority of music degrees offered elsewhere, which tended to focus on the more conventional historical surveys of European art music, this new course was concerned essentially with the position and application of music in a multicultural and technological society.

Accordingly, Malcolm Troup devised a programme which placed the study of Aboriginal music, East Asian and Asian art music and non-Western folk music equally alongside that of medieval, classical and romantic European music. Given equal status was the investigation of the physical and technological world of sound through courses in the psychology of music, acoustics, electroacoustic composition, sound recording and music computer applications. But musical performance was not to be neglected, for he maintained his former links with the neighbouring Guildhall School of Music by inviting them to collaborate in providing conservatoire level instrumental tuition for each student.

Malcolm’s radically new vision soon emerged as somewhat prophetic; many higher education institutions began attempting to mimic the ethos of his course and to adopt many of its pioneering features, such as music technology and the study of the world’s music.

He was awarded a personal professorial chair by City in 1980. In the same year, he inaugurated a Research Fellowship in Music Therapy under the sponsorship of the Music Therapy Charity, for which he continued to serve as Governor and Vice-President. This did much to confer academic respectability on what was then a new profession; he was instrumental in extending the application of Music Therapy not only to mentally and physically disabled children and adults, but also to the rehabilitation of offenders and to the care of the terminally ill.

In 1992, Malcolm was elected as Assistant to the Court of the Worshipful Company of Musicians, of which he had been a Livery Member since 1976, and in 1998 he held the position of Master. He was also a member of the Royal Society of Musicians, a Fellow of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

In 1993, he established with the support of the Jewish Music Heritage Trust, and hosted by City’s Music Department, the Joe Loss Research Fellowship in Jewish Music, the first fellowship of its kind in Europe; he went on to serve on the board of directors of the newly-established Jewish Music Institute.

While all this was underway, Malcolm still managed to continue his career as a concert pianist. In London he played in the Royal Festival Hall with the London Symphony Orchestra and, elsewhere, he performed with numerous major orchestras, including those of Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg; Warsaw, Prague, Bucharest; Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo and Santiago.

Under his Chairmanship, the European Piano Teachers Association, EPTA, formed in 1979, rapidly grew to include more than twenty-five national associations. Among his other activities and contributions was his editorship of the Piano Journal, his board membership of the London International String Quartet Competition and his Chairmanship of the new Beethoven Piano Society of Europe.

Professor Malcolm Troup retired from City in 1993, having firmly established what many came to regard as a model of what higher education in music should aspire to be. An innovator, a trailblazer and a seer but, above all, a musician whose many services to the cause of music have left a lasting legacy. He was awarded the degree of Doctor of Music, honoris causa, by City in 1995.