PETER RACINE FRICKER (1920 - 1990)
Born on 5th September 1920 to parents who met during their service in the Mediterranean theatre of World War I, Peter Racine Fricker’s interest in music took root while he was a student at St Paul’s School. He was especially interested in organ performance, studying with Henry Wilson and Ralph Downes; he also formed an enduring friendship with fellow student Dennis Brain. Fricker entered the Royal College in 1937, continuing his study with Wilson and with Ernest Bullock. This training was thoroughly conservative in outlook, with reverent and obsessive attention paid to counterpoint that would forever remain a hallmark of Fricker’s musicianship, however much he may have strayed into new directions. At this time his interest in composition vied with his interest in organ performance; he continued to consider a career as a concert organist until the late 1940s.
He entered military service in 1941, maintaining his musical interests as best he could through the remainder of the war, most frequently composing piano music. An Adagio and Scherzo for string quartet remains the most thoroughly developed work from this time. They were written in the summer of 1943, and were probably intended as the central movements of a formal quartet.
With the end of his military service, Fricker set about resuming his career in music straight away. Determined now to be a composer, he sought out the fervent environment at Morley College, whose music programmes had an enviable reputation for research and experiment. It was here that he met his mentor, Matyas Seiber, whom he later called “the greatest teacher of the 20th century”.