Turnbull, Percy (Purvis)
- Jeremy Dibble
(b Newcastle upon Tyne, July 14, 1902; d Pulborough, Dec 9, 1976). English composer, pianist and teacher. In Newcastle he was a chorister at the Cathedral of St Nicholas and studied the piano under Sigmund Oppenheim. He was also befriended by William Whittaker, conductor of the Newcastle upon Tyne Bach Choir Society. In 1923 he won a Foundation Scholarship to the RCM, where he studied with Holst, Vaughan Williams, and John Ireland, who remained a lifelong friend. He was at the RCM until 1927, during which time he gained a reputation as both a soloist and accompanist, appearing on 2LO and its successor the BBC. On leaving the RCM he was an editor for the Aeolian Piano Company (under Scholes), a reader for Oxford University Press (under Hubert Foss), a pianist at the Empire Theatre, Swansea, and a freelance copyist. During World War II he served in the Royal Artillery, after which he became principal piano teacher at the Surrey College of Music. Turnbull’s output is slender but highly polished. Though he occasionally turned his hand to more extended compositions, such as the Violin Sonata (...