Obituary of the great pedagogue William Pleeth

Published in The Guardian

At the age of 9, I was taken to a master-class at the South Bank given by the cellist William Pleeth. The experience was one I shall always remember. William Pleeth's personality - filled with love, passion, warmth and optimism - emotionally and spiritually embraced me. I'm sure everyone present felt the same. I knew within moments that this was the musician I would most like to study with.

Some months later, an audition was arranged and I went to Mr Pleeth's home. Although by all rights I should have been terrified of such a pedagogue, Bill received me with the welcome of a proud father and enthused me with an excitement to communicate my music in away which, in the ensuing 6 years of lessons, I was to appreciate as the generating energy behind his love of teaching and playing music.

As the years passed, I learnt how exceptional a person Bill was; how he stood as a pioneer in his teaching methods, and yet he gave each student individually crafted disciplines to help fulfil their personal potential; how almost uniquely for a teacher, he never sought fame through the exaltations of his students careers.

Bill was an especially complete kind of person; his life with Maggie was mutually unlimited in love and devotion. His family values unspoilt by his musical passions. The selflessness that was so much a part of Bill's way with me, was an ever present quality in his old fashioned English Gentleman persona, complimented by his ability to be caring, supportive and always uplifting.

He will remain an inspiration in my heart and in the hearts of his family and all those who have been blessed with the touch of his life.

publicationsRobert Cohen