Paul Mountain obituary

Other lives: Violinist and teacher who became a senior figure in the musical life of Leeds

My friend Paul Mountain, who has died of a brain tumour aged 68, was a violinist and teacher who played with the Philharmonia Orchestra in London before becoming a senior figure in the musical life of Leeds. A passionate believer in the importance of music in education, he was influential in the lives of hundreds of young people across the city.

Born in London, he moved with his family shortly afterwards to Liverpool, where his father, Peter, was leader of what is now the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Paul spent a happy childhood with his two younger sisters. His mother, Muriel (nee Dale), was better known as the pianist Angela Dale.

Paul became a talented violinist, but after leaving Merchant Taylors’ school, Crosby, he went on to Warwick University to study economics. He was also a gifted sportsman and his choice on graduation seemed whether to become a professional tennis player or pursue a career in economics.

He chose neither: in 1971 he joined the BBC Training Orchestra, where his father was string specialist, and subsequently the Philharmonia. In 1975 he moved to Leeds to take up a position with Leeds Music Support Services, later Artforms, working as director of the Leeds Youth Orchestra and leader of the Leeds String Quartet and later as a peripatetic teacher.

As director of the youth orchestra, he ran tours all over Europe. Exhausted on returning from one of these trips, to Italy, he fell from a top floor window, suffering spinal injuries. He was paralysed from the waist down and lost some fine motor skills in his hands. The hardest blow was that he could no longer play the violin to his previous standard.

He continued to work as conductor of the Leeds Youth Orchestra and perform in schools as a part of the Leeds String Trio. He also taught violin until his retirement in 2005.

He then began working at Pinderfields hospital, where he had been treated, counselling people with spinal injuries for the charity Aspire. His own experience allowed him to empathise fully with the patients. He continued until last year, when his illness was diagnosed.

Paul could not have continued living at home without the care of his partner – and from 2008, his wife – Cally (Carol, nee Yeadon), herself a talented professional musician. When anyone asked, “How are you, Paul?”, he would always answer, “I’m fine!”

He was an avid reader and was always recommending books. His taste in literature and music was eclectic, ranging from Shostakovich to Tom Jones.

Paul stood for election as a local councillor in 1992 and was a founder member of the Almscliffe branch of the Labour party. He railed against injustice, particularly with reference to disability.

An elegant, charming and passionate man, Paul is survived by Cally, his son Stef, his stepchildren Danny and Lekky, grandchildren Jack, Otto and Kit, and sisters Jen and Al.

Sarah Stead

The GuardianTramp

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