This year we lost the Gwyneth George, a classical cellist, a generous and loving spirit and my a dearly beloved cousin. She and my grandfather were first cousins and her line was one of the few in my family to pursue music.
When I was little we didn’t often get to visit her but I always remembered when we did the love with which she spoke of her cello. Making music was her life, her cello was as much a part of her as her limbs or her solo, so it was hard not to fall in love with it all when seeing it through her eyes. My mum played the piano and cello so when I was little I started on the former. Then when I discovered a big red cello living hidden away upstairs, I decided it would be mine (despite my mum’s protestations of “why don’t you lean something smaller, lighter, more practical..the flute?”)
Still, anyone who knows me knows I can be stubborn and I put my mind to learning the cello. Of course the big full sized one upstairs wasn’t yet a fit for 8 year old little me but in time I inherited mum 120+ year old French cello and play it for work today.
Gwyneth’s love was infectious and when I moved to London I visited her in her welcoming home in Holland Park. Always gracious, beautiful and warm I was so grateful to have found her again. I never known my grandfather and the rest of his generation, bar Gwyneth, had passed on so I looked to her to talk about the past and fill in some of the blanks, learning about the family and her as we went along.
We talked of Mumbles and Swansea where she grew up and where my family were from. We talked with her carers to, most notable of these was Mary who showed her so much love and devotion in the final years of her life. We owe a lot to Mary, so much. Mostly we talked about music, her travel, her playing, her collaboration with Alberto Portugheis. If you ever get a chance to here their recording of Rachmaninoff’s Cello Sonata please do, she makes the cello sing so much you’d swear it was alive.
So it was with great sadness I visited her in hospital February this year, Mary ever by her side and filled with emotion. To the end Gwyneth was full of grace and beauty. In our time together I’d never heard her say an unkind word about anyone, generous to a fault . She was a rare thing and I am immensely grateful that she was in my life. I hope to take forward her love and dedication to music and to live with the same grace and generosity she did.
I was heartened when the Telegraph got in touch to tell me they’d be writing her obituary. I didn’t want her passing to go unnoticed by the world. I will upload that article soon but here is another obituary in the Times and a response written by someone who knew and loved her.