Barrie Gavin

Honorary Membership of the Royal Philharmonic Society was presented to Barrie Gavin, a film maker renowned for his documentation of the arts, at the RPS Music Awards ceremony on Tuesday 9 May 2017 at The Brewery in the City of London. 

For the first time in RPS history, RPS Honarary Membership has been awarded to a film maker. Barrie Gavin was presented with his Honarary Membership on stage at the RPS awards dinner by Rosemary Johnson, RPS Exceutive Director, and Colin Matthews, Composer. 

Barrie Gavin is the 140th recipent of RPS Honorary Membership. The first award was made to Carl Maria von Weber in 1826. Illustrious Honorary Members have included Rossini (1839), Brahms (1882), Clara Schumann (1887), Stravinsky (1921), Aaron Copland (1970) and Lady Evelyn Barbirolli (2001). More recent recipients include founder of El Sistema José Antonio Abreu (2008), Marin Alsop (2014), Evelyn Glennie (2015), and Graham Vick (2016).

In its citation, the RPS said: 

Barrie Gavin has spent a lifetime single-mindedly documenting the arts through film: above all classical music, with the composers of today as an overriding priority. The hallmarks of his work are the care and attention to detail which he invests in each and every subject, and his ability to demonstrate insightful authority and profound understanding, while always allowing the music to speak for itself.
His close collaboration with composer Pierre Boulez lasted for 40 years, while his many documentaries on key figures in 20th century music - including Boulez himself, along with Stockhausen, and Berio - illuminate the art of composition as well as the historical, cultural and philosophical origins of the mainstream of 20th century art music.
His other most fruitful collaborations have been with Simon Rattle, Gerard McBurney, and with German television, for whom he was responsible for more than 250 live broadcast performances. With his portraits of the leading composers of our time, too numerous to itemise, but including Toru Takemitsu, Harrison Birtwistle, Peter Maxwell Davies, Hans Werner Henze, Jonathan Harvey, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Colin Matthews and Oliver Knussen, he has created and continues to create an unprecedented legacy and treasure trove for musicians and curious listeners alike to discover. 

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An early member of the Society, who played in our first season in 1813, was the Afro-European violinist George Polgreen Bridgetower (1778-1860) – the original dedicatee of Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata.