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Memories from Eastbourne College

From A history of music at Eastbourne College from its foundation in 1867 until the move into the Birley Centre (last updated 30 September 2020). (accessed 12 August 2023).

In September the ‘carelessly dashing’ (obituary written by Rev Roger Holloway OE, later to become deputy chaplain to the speaker of the House of Commons) Peter Tranchell BA BMus, King’s College Cambridge was appointed as assistant music master but stayed only a year. The lure of Cambridge called him back where he was appointed director of studies (music) at Fitzwilliam Hall.  

Brian Polden remembers Peter Tranchell:  ‘He brought with him an outrageous and infectious sense of fun and was a most gifted musician.’ Ian Fraser (Sykes) remembers: ‘He was a bizarre character, particularly in his very eccentric manner of dress, including multicoloured dressing-gown sashes with tassles instead of a belt, which didn’t go too well with the fur of his academic gown. I vaguely remember the strange music he wrote for one of the school plays, which included a ‘jungle piano’, a small wooden box with pliant metal bars attached which you twanged.’

Peter Marchbank, who is contributing some chapters to a biography on Peter Tranchell, observes that a setting of the hymn Lord, dismiss us with thy blessing was written for Eastbourne College. He adds: ‘Interestingly, when Peter used the tune in Cambridge he called it Wish Road [sic]. He also used it as the central section of an anthem Fortunare Nos which he composed in 1986 for the wedding of one of his students.’ Marchbank refers also to another work by Tranchell [for Eastbourne] called City of God (essentially an extended arrangement of the hymn using the well-known tune Richmond), described in its title page as an extravaganza for drum and bugle band, orchestra (flute, clarinet, horn, trumpet, two trombones, timpani and strings), treble solo, two pianos, choir and congregation, which may have reflected the forces at his disposal.