Nunc Dimittis

January 4, 2013

Nunc Dimittis

Philip Ledger died November 18, 2012, at the age of 74. He was the youngest cathedral organist in the country when he was appointed to Chelmsford in 1961, and later became a collaborator with Benjamin Britten, before succeeding David Willcocks as director of music at King’s College, Cambridge. 

Philip Stevens Ledger was born at Bexhill-on-Sea on December 12, 1937, and educated at the local grammar school; he took a first in music at King’s College, Cambridge. From there he went to Chelmsford Cathedral to succeed Derrick Cantrell as master of the music. In 1965 he was appointed director of music at the University of East Anglia, and in 1968 was asked to serve as joint artistic director at Aldeburgh, appearing as both conductor and keyboard player over a number of years. 

Ledger was director of music at King’s College, Cambridge from 1974 to 1982 and conductor of the Cambridge University Musical Society from 1973 to 1982. He was subsequently principal of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama 1982–2001. In addition to numerous recordings, compositions and performances, Ledger edited The Oxford Book of English Madrigals (1978) and several books on composers, including Byrd and Handel.

He acted as chairman of the examining board of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and president of the Royal College of Organists and the Incorporated Society of Musicians. He was knighted in 1999. After retiring in 2001 Ledger continued to compose. His last two major works were his Requiem in 2007 and The Risen Christ in 2011. This Holy Child, a setting of the Christmas story with five original carols, received its premiere on December 16, 2012.

In 1963, he married Mary Erryl Wells, a principal soprano at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, whom he had met while he was conducting the European premiere of Copland’s The Tender Land in Cambridge. She survives him, as do a son and a daughter.


Edward Mondello died on November 21, 2012 at the age of 88. Mondello served as university organist at the University of Chicago, where his recitals attracted large audiences. Paul Hume, music critic for the Washington Post, wrote after hearing him in recital, “Mondello played with power and beauty.” He toured the U.S. and Canada and played private organ recitals for Sir George Solti and Charles, Prince of Wales. Mondello also played organ continuo for many years with the Chicago Symphony under the batons of Jean Martinon, Antonio Janegro, Morton Gould, and Margaret Hillis, and performed with such musicians such as trumpeter Adolph Herseth and oboist Ray Still.

Mondello earned a B.M. from Kansas State College with a major in piano and M.M. from the University of Chicago with a major in musicology. Prior to setting up his private studio, Mondello taught piano for twenty years to graduate students in the University of Chicago’s Department of Music. His students include Thomas Weisflog, who recently succeeded him as the University of Chicago Organist, and pianist Conley Johnson, who has appeared as piano soloist with local orchestras including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

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