Andrew Ffrench meets the man who saved recordings of performances made by his father 

When Graham Rose was told his father’s old box of reel-to-reel tapes was destined for the tip he decided to have one last look.

And with the help of a friend, who also lives in Appleton, he discovered they contained historic recordings of Magdalen College Choir.

When the recordings were played back, Mr Rose found he was listening to a musical legacy, performances between 1960 and 1976, which are now available on a new CD.

Former business consultant Mr Rose, 69, said: “I’m delighted the tapes didn’t end up at the tip. It was a great discovery and a CD of the recordings is now on sale at Blackwell’s in Oxford.”

Mr Rose’s father Bernard was organist and master of choristers at the Oxford college between 1957 and 1981 and, over the years, kept tapes of performances by the choir.

After Mr Rose junior took home the box he asked fellow villager Bernard Martin, who runs a recording company, to find out precisely what the tapes contained.

Father-of-two Mr Rose, who has lived in the village with wife Judith for over 50 years, said: “I knew Bernard had equipment capable of transferring material recorded on to reel-to-reel tapes to disc, so I took him the box that had remained in my late father’s study since his death aged 80 in 1996.

“My mother Molly, who will soon be 95 and lives in Bampton, said the box was about to go to the tip but I decided to hang on to it and I am so glad I did.

“After my father arrived at Magdalen he managed to introduce choral scholars. I am very pleased that these rare recordings have been saved.”

Mr Martin said he started working on the tapes when Mr Rose handed them over in 2010.

He added: “It was a mixed collection of about 25 reel-to-reel tapes and Graham brought the box to me asking if there was anything of interest.

“This began the somewhat tedious but rewarding task of listening to over 70 hours of material, containing an archive of mainly BBC broadcasts recorded off-air by Bernard Rose.

“Many early choral evensong broadcasts have, sadly, not been retained by the BBC and are not available in the National Sound Archive, so these recordings are very much a unique discovery.

“Out of the choral evensong broadcasts, we decided to include only those where the restored audio was of acceptable quality, and the singing representative of the time.

“I have another interest in these recordings.

“I was a chorister at Magdalen under the direction of Bernard Rose, from 1962 to 1966.”

One of the highlights of the compilation is a performance of Magdalen and New College Choirs, directed by Dr Rose and David Lumsden, recorded in the college chapel on December 13, 1963.

Sir David Lumsden said: “The quality of both singing and recording is superb and amazingly fresh and alive after such a long time.”

Dr Rose, who studied at the Royal College of Music, came to Oxford in 1939 as organist and tutor in music at The Queen’s College.

During the Second World War, he fought with the Desert Rats at El Alamein and in Italy, before being captured in Northern France and becoming a PoW in Germany.

He was President of the Royal College of Organists from 1974 to 1976, and received the OBE in 1980.

The last five stereo tracks on the new disc were recorded at De Duif Roman Catholic Church in Amsterdam on August 31, 1976.

More Archive Recordings (1960-1976): The Choir of Magdalen College is now on sale at Blackwell’s, price £12.99 or via