Felix Goodwin

Havergal Brian

Selected and annotated by Malcolm MacDonald

I am distressed over the sudden death of Felix Goodwin: he was my friend, and for that I offer these lines. He had known the sorrows of a musician’s life, and the good that was in him enabled him to bear with grace and fortitude all that comes in their train. When happier times came, and he was musical editor of The Radio Times, we found all that he did and wrote was a carrying forward of the kind spirit within him. I worked with him during ten long years2 when the fates seemed cruel to most musicians, but Felix Goodwin bore it all with resignation, if not in something nearer contentment.

Felix Goodwin was of the family associated with the firm of Goodwin & Tabb, the famous orchestral librarians, founded over a century ago. When his father died, Felix added to the firm’s activities a music lending library of the manuscript scores and orchestral parts of unpublished works of the principal British composers. It was dedicated to the memory of his father and known as the Robert Goodwin Library of Manuscripts. He often made gallant efforts to secure performances for the works in the library: it was indeed more often a labour of love than of profit for a band of composers scattered by the rush for things foreign. Later, he began publishing, and he was the original publisher of Holst’s The planets. I know that he published some of Arthur Bliss’s music. There was little response at that time from the British public.

I liked Felix Goodwin very much: he had a shrewd head and a kindly heart. It was not in sheer blindness that he worked for English composers: he knew that the chances were mostly against them, but he was willing to go down with them when the trial came. The last thing I read of his was the review in The Radio Times of The musical companions: it was a model of clear insight and good feeling. I feel the pity of it that his work on the News chronicle was overshadowed, for there seemed to be some chance of deserved recognition: but in poor health and in adversity he was always the same, — a worthy man.

  1. There is little documentary evidence of this ‘work’ — but Brian was certainly employed as an editor and copyist by Goodwin & Tabb, and his article on the Busoni piano concerto in Radio Times was presumably commissioned by Goodwin. ↩︎

On the other hand, by La main gauche

Musical opinion, March 1935, p. 494