English clarinettist and conductor Gervase de Peyer was born in London on 11 April 1926. On a scholarship to the Royal College of Music, he studied clarinet with Frederick Thurston and piano with Arthur Alexander. His studies were interrupted by war service with the Royal Marines Band Service, and after the war he studied with Louis Cahuzac in Paris.
He was soon touring as a solo clarinettist and playing chamber music for the Arts Council of Great Britain and working with Thomas Beecham and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and with the Philharmonia Orchestra under conductors such as Karajan, Cantelli, Klemperer and Furtwangler.
In 1950, with flautist Richard Adeney, cellist Terence Weil and viola player Cecil Aronowitz, he founded the Melos Ensemble of London, and continued to work with them until 1974. He also conducted Melos Ensemble recordings for EMI, and these were reissued in 2011.
He gave first performances of clarinet concerti by Alun Hoddinott, Arnold Cook and Berthold Goldschmidt, and was also associated with many other clarinet works, including those by Joseph Horovitz, William Mathias, Thea Musgrave, Edwin Roxburgh, Michael Cave, Miklos Rosza, Francis Poulenc and Robert Simpson.
He was principal clarinet with the London Symphony Orchestra from 1956 until 1973.
In 1969 in New York, he was a founding member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and continued to play with them for twenty years. In 1992 he founded the Melos Sinfonia of Washington.
Gervase de Peyer died on 4 February 2017, aged ninety.
Ensemble. Musical Outlooks - Bill Newman attends a selection of concerts at London's Wigmore Hall
CD Spotlight. Many Levels - Chamber music by Mozart and Smetana, heard by Howard Smith. '... judged to perfection ...'