Page last updated at 11:42 GMT, Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Organist Dudley Savage dies at 88

Dudley Savage. Pic: Jonathan Mann
Dudley Savage was a composer, arranger and presenter

Veteran BBC radio broadcaster Dudley Savage MBE has died at the age of 88 in Cornwall after a long illness.

He broadcast hospital request show As Prescribed from Plymouth's ABC Royal cinema, playing music on the organ for the programme for more than 30 years.

Mr Savage, who was born in March 1920 near Penzance, died at a nursing home near Liskeard.

Musician and author Jonathan Mann said he was "one of the greats" who "never regarded himself as a celebrity".

Cancellation petition

Dudley Savage was born in the village of Gulval, where his mother, a farmer's daughter, played the organ in the village church.

She taught him piano at home before he decided to move to the organ, studying under organists at Truro Cathedral and with musicians in Cornwall and Plymouth.

He eventually became the organist at ABC's Royal Cinema in Plymouth in 1938.

After being called up for military service in 1940 and serving with the army in India, he returned to Britain in 1946 and resumed his career at the Royal.

As Prescribed began broadcasting weekly in June 1948, and carried on until it was axed by the BBC in 1968.

After a petition with 43,000 signatures was sent to the BBC, it was brought back as a monthly show in 1969, continuing for another 10 years and moving eventually to Radio 2.

Dudley Savage playing as a boy in Penzance. Pic: Jonathan Mann
Dudley Savage began playing as a boy

He also undertook concert tours of the UK and Europe, bringing the music of his chosen instrument to thousands of people around the world.

Author and organist Jonathan Mann, from Guinnislake, said: "The thing that was remarkable was his musicianship. He had an incredibly distinctive style with a particular gift for harmony.

"He was a first-rate organist and arranger, as cinema organists have to arrange things in their head.

"He not only presented the [radio] show for an hour every week, but also played, which I don't anyone else ever did.

"He was also incredibly modest. He never made anything of his playing and never regarded himself as a celebrity."

The Cinema Organ Society added that his passing was a "great sadness", saying that he had "delighted organ fans up and down the country as well as in Europe".

It said: "Dudley was one of the last surviving organists from the great days when cinema organs were to be heard constantly on the wireless."

Dudley Savage also presented editions of Song of Praise when the programme was hosted in Plymouth.

His wife, Doreen, died in 2003.

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