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Issue 6119

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Hanging up his trombone

Tuesday 22 June, 2021

Bass trombonist Frank Mathison has enjoyed a lengthy reputation as a leading exponent of his instrument. A long-serving member of the London Symphony Orchestra, where he played alongside the likes of Denis Wick and Eric Crees, Frank continued playing well into his retirement, including in the world of brass bands.

Following the decision to put his trombone back into its case for the last time after 74 years, Brett Baker chats to the 93-year-old, who lives in Hebden Bridge, about his distinguished life in music.


When I rang Frank Mathison to schedule this interview, he was rehearsing a trio at his home (he had to get the group to be quiet so he could talk on the phone). At 93, his energy and drive remain very impressive and although he is sad to have finished playing, he still wants to help others and help them catch the bug for making music.

It was a bug Frank caught as a youngster – though it was completely unintentional. “I was messing about outside the old Lindley (Huddersfield) bandroom with a friend of mine, when an old man came out and asked us what we were doing. Put on the spot, I told him we’d come to join the band, which was not true at all. So, he took us inside and looked at my friend and said: ‘Tha’s got long arms so you’d better play trombone.’ He didn’t say anything to me, but he gave me a cornet to play.”


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