Frank Hare, organist

Frank Hare
Frank Hare
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Frank Hare, who has died at 92, was known throughout Britain and much of the US for his deep knowledge of and musicianship on the theatre organ, and was the inspiration behind the installation of the magnificent Compton Christie instrument which was completed in Ossett Town Hall in 1970 and remains there to this day.

A stockbroker by profession, his devotion to music was shared by his parents, both of whom were pianists and his father also a saxophonist. Together with Frank on the accordion they were the complete trio.

In the mid-1930s, theatre organ music was a staple on the radio and when the BBC opened the Compton in St George’s Hall, London, in 1936, it was played by the organist Frank most admired, Reginald Foort.

Two years later, Foort performed with his touring Moller theatre organ at the Leeds Empire and invited the 14-year-old Frank on to the stage for a rendition of the William Tell Overture. They were to meet on many occasions thereafter.

Frank became well known around the Leeds cinemas and got to know the organists quite well. In 1947, hearing that the Forum Cinema had installed a Christie organ, he called in to see if he could have a go. The manager was suitably impressed, and offered him an informal role as evening organist. There he honed his skills and even composed his own signature tune.

Seeking to spread knowledge and information of the organ world, he took over the editorship and production of Theatre Organ Review from 1950 until 1971 and his writing became noted for its eloquence and turn of phrase. For more than 60 years he also compiled and produced the monthly newsletter of The Theatre Organ Club North, in whose formation he was instrumental.

A perfectionist in everything, he began recording on the NTOT label, and in 1972 became involved when BBC Radio Leeds premiered a new programme called At The Console, featuring Arnold Loxam. It was compered by Barry Davenport and he and Frank became popular across Yorkshire for their brand of musical, informative entertainment.

A quiet, gentle and proud Yorkshireman with a parallel and abiding passion for trams, Frank lived his whole life in the house in Beeston, Leeds, in which he was born.