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Anthony Day, R.I.P.

Anthony Day painted by Gerhard van der Grinten
Anthony Day painted by Gerhard van der Grinten

Everyone will have been deeply saddened to learn of the recent death of Anthony Day at the age of 69. Anthony had fought some serious illnesses over the last few years but finally succumbed to cancer at his home in Attleborough on 17 February 2019.

As has been well chronicled, Anthony featured as a key figure in the last quarter of Malcolm’s life. After four decades of high productivity, Malcolm suffered a long mental breakdown after completing the 8th Symphony in 1978 and spent time in St Andrew’s hospital, Northampton. In March 1982, perplexingly, the Court of Protection sanctioned Malcolm’s release to the home of a couple running a nearby pub. When this ended in crisis two years later, the 34-year-old Anthony happened to be on hand and looking for a job, after an adventurous early life that had seen him working as, among other things, a chef, a manager of a guest house, a manager of a Spar shop, a steward on the P&O cruise liner ‘Oriana’ and a hairdresser on the QE2.

Appointed by the Court of Protection as Malcolm’s chauffeur-companion, Anthony took Malcolm to Norfolk, where, after two months in the village of Bunwell, Anthony’s birthplace, they spent over two years at Wymondham, where Malcolm completed the Irish Dances and wrote the Ninth Symphony. In November 1987 they moved to Attleborough, their final resting-place, where Malcolm continued to write his oddly spare late works, including the neat Concerto for Recorder and Chamber Orchestra and the strangely non-Welsh Four Welsh Dances. By the time, in 1990, that the late music finally came to an end on the advice of his publishers, his output had reached Opus 142.

During the time, from 28 May 1984 until Malcolm’s death on 23 September 2006, in which Anthony was responsible for the not-always-easy Malcolm, he took him to countless concerts and public engagements, as well as holidays to sunspots abroad. It was a period in which Malcolm could take much pride that his contribution to British music was being increasingly recognised, culminating in a knighthood in 1993. Anthony’s life was not without its controversies, but through his long administrations, the distressing infirmities of Malcolm’s old age were at least tempered by the recognition and many honours Malcolm received as the grand old man of British music.

Anthony John Day, born 12th August 1949, died 17th February 2019