Today is the first anniversary of the death of my father, John Gross (above in 2009). Several of his American friends (who couldn’t make it to London for his memorial meeting) have asked to see clips of it. And a number of my father’s British friends have asked to see a recording of the smaller gathering held for him in New York.
In some of these clips (below) the sound quality is rather poor, and the camera a little shaky. The recordings were made in a discreet way because we didn’t want to interfere with the service. I recommend turning up the volume to listen to them more easily.
MEMORIAL MEETING, LONDON, MARCH 17, 2011
BARRY HUMPHRIES READS STEVIE SMITH (AND OFFERS A PRIZE)
Actor Barry Humphries is bemused by Stevie Smith’s On The Death of a German Philosopher. Following Humphries’ remarks, the next part of John Gross’s memorial service (contained in this video clip) was the singing by Ira Pilgrim in Yiddish of Der Rebbe Elimelech.
MARTIN AMIS’S ADDRESS
Novelist Martin Amis pays a warm tribute to his friend and former editor. “Everything I write,” says Amis, “I send by John’s desk. I still do, and I always will.”
LORD WEIDENFELD’S ADDRESS
Publisher George Weidenfeld speaks of his affection for John Gross. (You can read a transcript of Lord Weidenfeld’s remarks if you scroll down to item 4 here.)
DAVID PRYCE-JONES’S ADDRESS
Following David Pryce-Jones’s remarks, the next part of the memorial service (contained in this video) was the singing of The Keel Row by Kathleen Ferrier. (You can read a transcript of Pryce-Jones’s remarks if you scroll down to item 6 here.)
ROBERT LLOYD INTRODUCES FRUEHLINGSTRAUM
Robert Lloyd introduces a recording of himself singing Fruehlingstraum from Die Winterreise by Franz Schubert, with Julius Drake on piano.
EDWARD MIRZOEFF READS “TEARS, IDLE TEARS”
BBC Television producer and documentary filmmaker Eddie Mirzoeff reads Tears, Idle Tears by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. (Mirzoeff was standing in for the actor Jonathan Cecil, who was unwell.)
CHRISTOPHER RICKS READS “PROVIDE, PROVIDE”
Sir Christopher Ricks, the British literary critic and Professor of the Humanities at Boston University, reads Provide, Provide by Robert Frost.
ANTHONY THWAITE READS “THE VOICE” BY THOMAS HARDY
Following the reading of the poem, the next part of the service (contained in this clip) was the singing by John McCormack of Oft In the Stilly Night.
ERIC ORMSBY READS WILLIAM BLAKE’S THE DIVINE IMAGE
CLAIRE TOMALIN READS WHO'S WHO BY WH AUDEN
After Claire Tomalin’s reading, a recording of What Is This Thing Called Love written by Cole Porter and sung by Ella Fitzgerald, is played.
SUSANNA GROSS READS “WANTS” BY PHILIP LARKIN
John Gross’s daughter Susanna reads Wants.
VICTORIA GLENDINNING READS SWINBURNE’S THE GARDEN OF PROSPERINE
Prior to the reading, Shenandoah, sung by Paul Robeson, is played. Victoria Glendinning’s reading of Algernon Charles Swinburne’s The Garden of Prosperine comprised four of the last five stanzas. The rendition of the poem starts at 3 minutes into this video.
A memorial plaque for John Gross, and a memorial boulder under which he is buried
AN INFORMAL MEMORIAL GATHERING FOR JOHN GROSS, NEW YORK, FEB. 27 2011
Forty of John Gross’s fellow writers and friends in New York, who couldn’t make it to the London memorial meeting, gather in the Manhattan apartment of Jean Crocker to remember him. This video includes a tribute from John Gross’s former editor at The New York Times, Jack Schwartz. John’s son Tom re-reads his remarks from the funeral in London the month before.
PART 2 OF THE NEW YORK MEMORIAL GATHERING
Among those paying tribute are writer and critic Jay Nordlinger: “There was something medicinal about being with John. He made you feel better. There was a consoling quality. He made the world lighter. The time with him just flew by. You left him with a spring in your step.”
Writer Norman Podhoretz says “John was one of the most marvelous men I have ever had the privilege to know. We shall not see his like again and are all diminished considerably by his loss.”
John’s closest American friend Judith Goldman, Rachel Klein who first knew John Gross as a teenager, and various other friends also speak, followed by a toast in his memory by John’s American-based first cousin, Anne Lowy.
Other tributes can be found here:
* A wonderful father (Jan. 12, 2011)
* “The Gentleman of Letters” (Jan. 16, 2011)
* “The Pleasure of His Company” (Jan. 23, 2011)
* “The plays of Shakespeare, the novels of Tolstoy and the teeming streets of Dickens” (Jan. 28, 2011)
* “Remembering John Gross: friendship flooded the RIBA” (March 25, 2011)
* John Gross on the silver screen (Jan. 10, 2012)