James Joseph Magennis VC Frances Elizabeth Clarke Stewart Parker Samuel Beckett Sam Hanna Bell William Carleton John Hewitt Rosamond Praegar Bernard (Barney) Hughes

John Havelock Nelson (1917 - 1996):
Composer, conductor and pianist

Havelock Nelson

Havelock Nelson was born in Cork on 25 May 1917 of parents originally from County Antrim. He was educated in Dublin at St Andrew's College and the Royal Irish Academy of Music and at Trinity College graduating with degrees in music and medical science. He pursued a scientific career in the RAF before being appointed staff accompanist in the BBC in Belfast in March 1947. He remained with the BBC for thirty years and had a huge influence on the musical life of Belfast and beyond.

As well as writing, arranging and performing for radio and television he took over the conductorship of the Studio String Orchestra (later Studio Symphony Orchestra), and in 1950 founded the Studio Opera Group. Nelson was much in demand as an adjudicator at music festivals (especially in Canada), and as a result of regular visits to music festivals in the West Indies he became director of the Trinidad and Tobago Opera Company. He was awarded the OBE for services to music in 1966.

In 1993 he published a volume of memoirs, A Bank of Violets (Greystone Press) which contains a list of his many published compositions, most of which are songs or choral works displaying his gift for arranging Irish traditional songs.


Born: 25 May 1917
Died: 5 August 1996
Wesley McCann

Graham Nelson