William Bennett OBE (1936-2022)
It was with sadness that we learnt of the death last week of William Bennett (Wibb) at the age of 86. He was unquestionably not only one of the greatest players of his generation, but also an inspirational teacher and human being who touched the lives of countless musicians. The unique beauty and colour of his sound were outstanding features of his playing. He was awarded the OBE by the Queen in 1995 in recognition of his distinguished services to music and was for many years president of the British Flute Society.
One of the great interpreters of the flute music of Bach and Mozart, he was also a tireless champion of late 19th and early 20th century French repertoire. Wibb had a distinguished orchestral career, not least with the English Chamber Orchestra and Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. He identified Geoffrey Gilbert, Marcel Moyse and Fernand Dufrène as his most important influences.
As a teacher, he had a profound influence on flute playing, travelling the world giving masterclasses. He took over from Aurèle Nicolet as flute professor at the Hochschule für Musik in Freiburg from 1983-6, before leaving to become professor of flute at the Royal Academy of Music, London. His ex-pupils today include major artists such as Emily Beynon and Denis Bouriakov.
Wibb will be sorely missed but never forgotten by the flute world, and we send our sincere condolences to his wife Michie and his family in these sad times.
17th May 2022.
William Bennett playing at St. John’s, Smith Square, London, August 2016.Photo © Malcolm Pollock