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The following extract from one Peter Tranchell's CVs was included in the Programme for the 2005 Commemoration Weekend.

Tranchell, Peter Andrew: son of Lt-Col Henry George Tranchell (formerly 2nd Queen Victoria’s Own Rajput Light Infantry, HBM’s Consul at Pondicherry 1920-1936) and Violet Frances (née) Phillips. Born at Cuddalore (British India), 14 July 1922. Educated at Dragon School, Oxford, at Clifton College, Bristol, (Scholar in Classics), and at King’s College, Cambridge, (Exhibitioner in Classics and Scholar in Music).

B.A. 1948 (Classics Preliminary to Part I, Class II 1, 1942; Music Tripos Part 1, Class I, 1948); Mus.B. 1949 (with Distinction); M.A. 1949. John Stewart of Rannoch Scholarship in Sacred Music 1947. War Service: 1942-1946; Captain, Royal Signals. Music Master at Eastbourne College, 1949. Cambridge University Assistant Lecturer, 1950. Cambridge University Lecturer, 1953.

[Caius] College Director of Studies in Music from 1959, Director of College Music from 1960, Precentor from 1962, Domestic Bursar and Keeper of the College Courts and Gardens 1962-1966.

Director of Studies in Music for Fitzwilliam House/College 1950-1967, for Clare College 1959-62. Secretary of Faculty Board of Music 1956-1960 and 1964-1966. Served on Board of directors of Cambridge Arts Theatre 1960-1970.

Senior Treasurer of C.U. Jazz Club 1955-1960, C.U. Music Club 1957-1964, C.U. Opera Group 1958-1966, Caius College Musical Society from 1962. Vice-President of C.U. Musical Society 1957-1974.

Director of Music C.U. Footlights Dramatic Club 1946-1949. Music Critic for Varsity 1946-1949, Books of Today 1949-1951, Cambridge Review 1951-1959.

There follows a comprehensive listing of his compositions from 1941 onwards. Peter was often required to construct a CV for various dictionaries, directories and institutions — the above is the beginning of one written for Caius after 1974 — but was quite reticent about the detail of his early life. Fortunately, there are many contem­porary letters, diaries and ephemera (safe in the University Library) which cast light on his youth. He had a great emotional attachment to Clifton College, where he was surrounded by an extraordinary number of talented musicians, and was a humanising influence as Head of his house and ultimately Head of School. (He is reported as having said in the early 1950s, about a song called ‘The best years of our lives’, “Well, they were, weren’t they?”). Perhaps his later skill with the Ferrograph derived from his comprehensive technical training in the Royal Signals, but he seems to have spent much of his time caring for his men (making sure they were fed, entertained and educated) or searching in Malta, Rome and Greece for organs and pianos to play.

PAT wrote in a rather less ‘CV’ tone in a letter to the Secretary of the Old Cliftonian Society, who had written to him in August 1988 soliciting news:

The (by now very old) former Headmaster of Clifton:-

appears to have heard a broadcast of a Prom. in which the pianist Peter Frankl played Beethoven’s 4th piano concerto & assumed it was me.

He has not, however, kept up his piano-playing:

The die was cast partly by the war — for me it was four years of enforced abstinence from any proper piano practice. During the ensuing years (46-49) as a Kingsman, I resumed indeed, and learned several taxing works including the Liszt B-minor piano sonata. But it was an awful grind, and there were so many other things to be done. I rather saw my metier as a composer.

The other part of casting the die occurred when I found myself in the academic field. I was taken on as 2 i/c Music at Eastbourne College [1949] by the H.M. without very much more ado than a short interview in a London hotel lounge (The Rembrandt, I think, near the Brompton Oratory) — seven minutes at most. During that time he made up his mind about me & offered the job there & then ... circa March 50, I was rung up by the Faculty of Music as to why I hadn’t applied for an Assistant Univ. Lectureship at Cambridge. Would I let my name go forward?”

He was duly appointed, without actually having to apply, send a CV or attend an interview.

It would be otiose to plod through my academic career year by year itemising the various compositions. Everything I have written has been for an occasion and has been duly performed... Suffice it to say I was engaged on composition with an annual output till 1960, when one day in June that year I was rung up by the Secretary of Caius College council to ask if I would accept a Fellowship. I did, and found myself embarked on a new phase of life even more time-consuming than before [lists college posts and compositional demands of the choir, finishing] My Magnificats cum Nunc Dimittises in C, B, and B flat are quite good.

But although this work is not of wider interest ... there are rewards. I was heartened when a group of undergraduates (not from Caius) asked to hear a rather poor tape I have of the revival of ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge’. I sat them down with vocal scores apiece (& glasses of claret) and we proceeded — with proper intervals — through the work. At the end, one of the undergraduates dissolved into inconsolable tears and all the rest were speechless with emotion, — as indeed the audience is intended to be, at the end of the tragedy. (I don’t think it was the effect of the claret.) That was in June 1986, which means that the thing written in 1951 was still effective twenty-five [sic — actually 35] years later.

Then one is rewarded when people see the jokes in one’s lighter output. Recently I turned that odious tune which heralds and concludes the soap-opera ‘Neighbours’ into a psalm-chant. Two of the lads in the choir recognized it and gave me significant oeillades during practice. Nobody else noticed anything...

So one is kept busy. However, I suppose you want something to report about me. But alas, there is nothing salient at all. Life has gone on much the same for the past 28 years.