Peter Goodwin obituary

Other Lives: Leading light in the creation of the Wycombe Arts festival

My friend Peter Goodwin, who has died aged 94, was for many years a leading figure in the classical music scene in High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire.

As head of music for 25 years at High Wycombe College of Technology and Art (now Buckinghamshire New University), Peter was involved in the creation in 1964 of the Wycombe Arts festival and helped to maintain its excellence thereafter, bringing performances to the town by famous orchestras and internationally renowned soloists, including the London Philharmonic Orchestra, John Shirley-Quirk and Iona Brown.

However, his most notable achievement was probably the putting on of 26 operas at the Wycombe College hall over a period of a quarter of a century, using students and local singers to fill all the roles. He produced operas from Mozart to Mascagni, Verdi to Vaughan Williams, and Smetana to Strauss and Sullivan, and was always a happy, smiling and jokey presence. As a fine conductor he was also supportive of his charges, helping them to reach heights they did not know were possible.

Peter was born in St Margaret’s, near Twickenham in south west London, and, after being evacuated to High Wycombe during the second world war, attended Wycombe Royal grammar school and remained in the town thereafter.

Following national service (1946-48), Peter studied music at Trinity College London, and then got a job back in High Wycombe as a music teacher at Mill End Road girls’ school.

He stayed there until 1962, when he left to take up his post at High Wycombe College. One of his tasks there was to help set up the college’s O- and A-level music courses, but his brief was also to foster musical outreach in the town, and this he did to great effect, particularly as a founding committee member of Wycombe Arts festival.

Peter worked at the college until he retired in 1987. In 2013 he was awarded an honorary fellowship by Buckinghamshire New University “in recognition of his many years with the institution, and the dedication, enthusiasm and effort he has put into bringing … music to High Wycombe”.

Peter’s marriage to Zena Howell ended in divorce. Both their sons, Nicky and Stephen, predeceased him. He is survived by his daughter, Jane, seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Clifton Hughes

The GuardianTramp

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