Margaret Murray MBE 1921 - 2015

Memories, Reflections, Tributes and Messages of Condolence

Memories, Reflections, Tributes and Messages of Condolence

Click here to read a Tribute to Margaret Murray >

Dear members of the Orff society in the UK and all other good friends of Margaret Murray,

On behalf of our Icelandic association, SOTI, we send you all our deepest condolences for the loss of Margaret Murray. At the same we congratulate you all for her life-work, for everything she brought to the Orff community in the UK and abroad. It is a great gift for you all, having had the opportunity to know and learn from such a person. 

As I visited London to give a workshop few years ago, I learned that she had a great family within the Orff community, people that loved her and looked well after her. I realised I was experiencing a beautiful and respectful connection between her and the younger members. As well did I realise strongly how fortunate I was to have the change to spend quality time with her. I was amazed when she had offered me to her house to have dinner, that she (at her age) came with the bus to pick me up. She didn't see that as any problem and I had to argue with her to go by myself back to the hotel on the bus! That evening at her house was so sweet and educating, I will treasure that memory for always and ever.

Margaret was very humorous and I have to end this little memoir by attaching this photo of us laughing about all the knitting she had done as she was travelling between places to teach. She made these colourful "gloves" for all the fragile instruments she was carrying.

Best wishes to you all, god bless Margaret Murray, thank you for everything and rest in peace.

Nanna Hlíf and the Icelandic Orff association, SOTI

It is a loss for all of us but much more for you in Great Britain and therefore I want to express my deepest sympathy with all of you. What I can say it can be said by many of us: My great thanks to Margaret for her warm and personal support. I still see her sitting in my classes in London Richmond, never felt supervised and mentored by her; she was able to accept us as colleagues, even by knowing more about Orff than anyone of us. She even could laugh when things went a little confused (by language problems or caused by my sometimes unconventional teaching style). It was no problem for her. We know what made her really upset: It was when someone did not stand to his commitment, for  being careless with material.or with personal responsibilities

For me she was and will always be an example that a great and outstanding person does not lose by being humble and uncomplicated. Just the contrary.

Wolfgang Hartmann

Margaret has been an important person in my life, giving me the skills and the belief that music could be taught in a different and more exciting way. It feels as an era has ended, she will be much missed by us all.

Giovanna Orbelli in Lindberg, Arcobaleno Music School, Stockholm

Sad that such a bright light has gone out. A legend remains. 

Pete Baynes

Even those of us who did not have the opportunity to know Margaret personally were touched by her tremendous contributions to music education, and feel this loss keenly.

Catherine West (Canada Orff Association)

Very sad to hear about Margaret. I met her only once, at the weekend course in Richmond last June. What a lovely lady. She had organised everything so well, in a beautifully simple way, and showed such interest in what we were doing. She'll be remembered for her devotion to music education. My condolences go to her family, friends and colleagues.

Claire McKenna, Early Years Musician, Ireland.

On behalf of the British Kodály Academy, I wish to express our condolences on the death of Margaret Murray.

Margaret was the chief mover behind Music Junction which ran its first course in 2001 and, over the years, brought many people to greater understanding of the work of Carl Orff and Zoltán Kodály. I personally first met Orff’s Schulewerk in the early nineteen eighties when attending an Orff, Kodály and  Dalcroze course in London.

Margaret will be sorely missed but, thanks to her dedication to music education, so many children have had an opportunity to experience such high quality teaching and musicianship.

Margaret Oliver Chair of Trustees of the British Kodaly Academy

It is with great sadness to read that Margaret Murray past away. We know how much she did for us all, the great Orff-Schulwerk family. We are very aware of her written heritage and we keep in mind how much we must stay thankful to her. …In my name and in the name of the Orff-Québec's members, I am sending our sincere condolences to you and to the UK Orff Association.

Best regards, Corina-Maria Zosim, president of Orff Quebec

All the usual clichés that are applied to inspirational educators are true of Margaret Murray. She was tireless, enthusiastic, humorous, and dedicated. She was a stickler in the best sense of the word. I remember with fondness the occasion when she played us, her students, a recording of a children’s composition and remarked at the end, “It is a pity about the quality of the triangle on this recording.” 

Steve Grocott, London

It is an honour for us that both these people, Margaret Murray and Pavel Jurkovic (who died in Prague on February 4th) were key personalities in the internationalisation of Orff Schulwerk.  They influenced generations of music teachers, particularly in English and Czech speaking countries.  Margaret and Pavel will always be in our hearts and in our music teaching.

Jarka  (Jarmila Kotůlková ) on behalf of the Czech Orff Society

I first met Margaret Murray in 1994 when, after working twenty years as a primary teacher I decided to become a music specialist and needed more training.

My experience at the Richmond ACCENT ON ORFF that year was the first of many wonderful weekends and I was always struck by Margaretʼs complete involvement in and joyful appreciation of, every aspect of our musical activities.

When I suggested running similar courses in Glasgow for Orff Society UK Margaret was completely supportive of what was to begin with, a risky enterprise but turned out to be successful year after year.We had many happy telephone conversations in those years and later, setting up Orff Scotland, our members were always aware of her generous help and guidance which was invaluable. Over the years, I began to appreciate the tremendous research she had undertaken to find the treasures of traditional Scottish material included in the five volumes of MUSIC FOR CHILDREN and now, working with an adult group, we relish these pieces.

Music education in Scotland owes much to Margaret and I will remember her with fond gratitude.

Moira Jakobsson, Secretary, Orff Scotland

Dear Sarah

On behalf of the Barnes Choir, of which Margaret was a founder member, may I be permitted to pen a few lines in tribute to her?

Margaret was a stalwart member of the Barnes Choir from its very foundation in 1952 until her death, serving on its Committee for many years. She provided invaluable assistance to successive conductors of the Choir. But she did far more than this. She remained an excellent soprano singer until she was forced to stop attending rehearsals in late 2014, but more still, she was, of course, a fantastic musician, both cerebral and instinctive. She brought this musicality to bear within the Choir, and was always available to help and encourage other singers. She was also responsible for putting together the programmes for all of our concerts. Despite the wide range of other musical activities in which she was engaged, she always found time to help us as a member of the Committee. Her wisdom, musicality and sheer hard work made her an outstanding Committee member. She was far from lacking a sense of humour, too; she was very fond of setting musical anagram puzzles, usually anagrams of famous composers, as part of our annual summer parties. She also for many years did a Piano Marathon, playing without a proper break for 3 hours or more, to raise funds for the Choir, until she felt well into her eighties no longer physically able to carry this out. She will be hugely missed by all Choir members, young and old. Thank you Margaret, for everything you did so unstintingly for us over our 60-year history. 

I wish the Society all the very best for the future.

Yours sincerely

Barnaby Marder, Chairman, The Barnes Choir

A life well lived and full of music.  Margaret was my first point of contact with the Orff society and she was very kind and welcoming. She will be missed.  

Jane Newberry

Dear Aunt Margaret,

What fun we had together talking about and researching our family history. 

Our research has led us to you unveiling a blue plaque for your much loved Aunt Lil, the first woman dentist, to me observing another plaque for our great Uncle Thomas, the Victorian architect of Nottingham and following various 'trails' to Scotland and as far as Canada!

Last year, all your devotion to music and the Orff Society was finally recognised by being awarded an MBE. We are very proud of you and I am glad to say, music is 'ongoing' and being played be all of your relatives. 

Your loving cousin and family 


We have lost a dear and faithful personal friend as well as an indefatigable worker and fighter for Orff-Schulwerk. 

We have lost a model of integrity who has taught us in all modesty and quietness what life long dedication can be. 

We are forever grateful for all her kindness and helpfulness and for her work over decades for the Orff-Schulwerk. 

She will be loved and remembered as a 'legend.' 

Barbara Haselbach

For the Orff-Schulwerk Forum Salzburg

I met Margaret as a young teacher in the late 1980's, and the influence of her work has had a profound influence on my music teaching career for now over 23 years. Margaret was one of the most dedicated professionals I have ever met in music education, and she flew the flag for Carl Orff and his music education work in a most wonderfully enthusiastic way. Through the courses she ran and organised, and the wonderful tutors she nurtured and employed, she inspired many teachers to use Orff's creative music making ideas with countless children across the UK, who otherwise might well have had a far less enjoyable and fruitful music education. I, and many other music teachers, and the children they teach, owe a great deal to Margaret Murray, and her unique influence and passion for children's music will go on. 

Fran Carpenter 

I first met Margaret Murray at the Orff Symposium in Salzburg in 1990. She loomed larger than life as the name on the Orff Volumes I had so assiduously thumbed through and brought to life with my students and it was thrilling to finally meet her. I immediately was drawn by her wit and twinkling mischievousness, her fearlessness to express her opinions in her own inimitable style. I believe it was in 1998 that she invited me to teach at a retreat center in England and I was astounded that this 'famous Orff luminary' was willing to stay in the dorms at almost 80 years old! She took me to a memorable Shakespeare performance at Stratford-on-Avon on my birthday and wasn't that a delight! I interviewed her with a tape recorder at that time and sadly, never followed up to publish it. (I'm thinking about trying to find that again and see if I still might).

A few years later, she helped edit my book 'Play, Sing and Dance' and wrote a back-cover endorsement that meant - and means - the world to me. Someone from Schott shared a little story about being with her as she went through the manuscript, with characteristic exclamations like, "Surely he couldn't have meant that!" That made me laugh! The last time I saw her was some four or five years ago. She hosted me for a London workshop, picked me up at the train station and drove me to her house to feed me dinner and comment on my way of holding the fork. She certainly was observant and had an eye for detail! And then driving me the next morning and unloading her trunk (boot) carrying some xylophones in the workshop - at 89 years old!

And so she showed me what a lifelong commitment to an idea and an ideal looks like, an unflagging dedication to spreading the good news, whatever it takes. Her contribution to translating Orff and Keetman's initial work, along with Doreen Hall, made an enormous impact on the development of the Schulwerk, particularly in the United States. I am deeply honoured to have known her and like so many of us, will miss her dearly. Thank you, Margaret and may you rest in peace serenaded by angels playing glockenspiels!

Doug Goodkin

Pleasant memories of Margaret will accompany my life, not necessary to call her to mind. Her love and warm empathy are still in my heart; her refinement and discipline will be  taken as  a model. I was allowed to work with her and to be  regarded as a friend. I will remember Margaret  with respect  and admiration.My files show a lot of English corrections: Margaret corrected my lectures, she sent back my versions with  instructions in detail: basic or fundamental? impulses or stimuli? facts about human beings? observing? probing or sampling? idea or kernel? M’s alterations in detail of my English versions will be with me. 

Ulrike E. Jungmair

Even though her work was rooted in England, Margaret Murray always had a deep connection to the Carl Orff Institute in Salzburg. As teacher and director at the international summer courses in Salzburg as well as teacher in the international 'special course,' she gave important impulses and inspiration to many students and teachers from different parts of the world, that now live on meaningful experiences made in her classes. 

Not to forget her work as translator of numerous texts and lectures by Carl Orff, Hermann Regner, Barbara Haselbach and others. We also give thanks to her for translating the Orff Schulwerk Information for many years. 

We worship her contribution to music education in general as well as to Orff Schulwerk in particular and bow to her achievements and devotion to music education. 

Sonja Stibi (Director of the Carl Orff Institute) 

I didn't meet Margaret until I moved to Austria in 1977 and then was lucky enough to see and talk to her at various international Orff-Schulwerk symposia, swap numerous emails and to visit her over the last few years when I was in London.

Margaret had a great sense of humour, was inevitably constructive with her comments and suggestions. She was incredibly generous with her time and advice. There were innumerable occasions when I was stuck translating a tricky text and where I knew that she would reply to my urgent emails immediately.  

Her command of English was impressive and she would usually come up with more than one suggestion and also the pros and cons. She often had something to say about some seemingly never-ending German sentences and their writers!When I was feeling brave, I even asked her to proof-read and correct some of my own texts in English. 

Her contribution to making Orff Schulwerk known world-wide through her English adaptation and her translations of all major German texts cannot be valued highly enough. Inevitably, I think I will feel her looking over my shoulder with a twinkle in her eye when I write or translate anything in the future and I will try to live up to her very high standards. It was a great honour and a privilege to have known her.

Shirley Salmon

Hello from Durban! I wanted to say that I was thinking of you all and Margaret. Hannah phoned me to let me know that she had passed away. I hope that you can celebrate her amazing life in ways that feel good and that honour all that she was. Orff UK is such a wonderful legacy to leave to the world. Love and light.

Shelley Pomeroy

The Carl Orff Foundation is very sad to hear about the passing of Margaret Murray. We have many wonderful memories of her. She lives on in the work she did for Carl Orff: her translations of one Volume of his Documentation and the translation of Michael Kuglers book "Elemental Dance and Elemental Music." She also translated the Booklets of the DVDs of all the productions John Dew did at the Darmstadt Opera House between 2007 and 2011. Her translations will now be the benchmark for all following translations of Carl Orff's work. The Carl Orff Foundation is very thankful to her. 

Once she told me that it was easy to translate Carl Orff's speech because his speech was so harmonious. If she hadn't spoken German they wouldn't have been in such close contact. 

She often looked for Carl Orff on the internet or other media and contacted the appropriate people she thought had the wrong impression of his life or his work. 

For all that she will be sadly missed. 

Ute Hermann

On behalf of the Orff Schulwerk Society of South Africa, I would like to extend our sincere condolences to you and Margaret's family on her passing. She was such an icon to all of us and her books will live on as a reminder and endless resource of Orff Schulwerk and Orff's philosophy and ideas.

I was lucky enough to meet Margaret several times on visits to London and Salzburg and she was both very welcoming and a formidable presence. She invited me to a workshop given by Lois Birkenshaw-Fleming and it was wonderful to see these two amazing music specialists work and joke together. I was heartbroken to see on your website that dear Lois passed away just two weeks ago.  

I was so thrilled to hear that Margaret had been awarded an M.B.E. I'm sure she will be sorely missed. 

With kind regards and best wishes

Miriam Schiff

I did not make any written contribution for publishing when I heard of Margaret’s passing. Although I was quite saddened I felt that her personality, her alert and observant ways and comments – even she herself had not really left this earthly world. A unique sensation. 

I was fortunate to have spent much time with Margaret when she visited in Salzburg and even once when I visited in London many years ago. I remember silly times in a restaurant when someone would start doodling something rhythmic on the table in a silence of conversation. Margaret couldn’t let it pass and said, “Aha. The Orff syndrome.” We joked about translating this and that and her love for words that tickled the tongue. I once won an argument (she never argued – she always listened) about using the word lorry or truck in some article or other saying that most of the readers would be from the USA and not necessarily the UK. 

My very first meeting with this remarkable person was the year I had come to Salzburg for the Special Course. I was already quite familiar with her translations of Music for Children. It was 1972 shortly before the Christmas holidays when she came for what was to be an annual visit. She sat in front of us with her personal trolley of mallets and what all (“there are never enough of the proper ones here”) and proceeded to go down the list of names alphabetically. She greeted each one personally. When I knew that I should be the next one, for some reason or other I was skipped over. Hmm? At the end of the list she looked directly at me and said, “And by a process of elimination you must be . . . .” The endearment came later! 

In Munich once at a symposium at the Carl Orff Center (sorry I don’t remember which one or when) she came with another person and introduced her as “the wife of my former husband”. Her friendship knew no bounds. 

I saw Margaret last at an Orff Schulwerk Forum Meeting in Salzburg. It was fun to sit next to her and wonder what her next comment would be. . . 

What a rare and wonderful experience to have known this marvellous woman. To hear her speak was such a treat – the most beautifully formed words in clear crystal-like tones that were music itself. I would like to imagine her reading The House at Pooh Corner out loud so I could hear how it really should sound. . .

Miriam Samuelson

Margaret Murray was a wonderful friend to me, and your news saddened me very deeply. I felt that I ought to have ensured that we kept in touch more regularly over recent years, but each knew that the other was extremely busy, and neither of us would willingly 'waste' the other's time. We were of similar age, though I was slightly older than Margaret - but much less experienced in many ways. The last time we met was at her 80th birthday party at Schotts, where we embraced each other warmly, I having come from my home in Shrewsbury for the event, which was kept secret from Margaret until she arrived! Perhaps you were there, too?

I first met Margaret in 1960, when acting on advice from Dr. Walter Bergmann, she invited me to teach recorder and give a general lecture related to music in schools at her Summer Course in the Orff Institute in Salzburg. Of course, I accepted with enthusiasm, and this was the first of ten successive invitations of the same kind. (After 1977, she ceased to direct the courses - apparently the Mozarteum were having to indulge in financial economy!) I always remember those visits to Salzburg and the courses there as highlights in my life experience. 

There were people who were somewhat in awe of Margaret, with her direct manner of speaking and her very positive attitude and insistence on the highest standards of work in music, but as they became more accustomed to her forthright manner, they began to realise and to appreciate better her natural warmth of character and her readiness to help people who were genuinely keen to improve their musical skills. 

Margaret was always helpful to me in every possible was - including my attempts to use the German language, of which I knew very little. She introduced me to the Studio 49 factory, from which I bough my various instruments. One year, we went to Carl Orff's 75th birthday party at his home, and shared in his birthday present of an enormous cake, made in the form of a xylophone made of chocolate! She was keen to share with us (Dr Bergmann and myself) her delight in Salzburg and the surrounding countryside, and took us in her car to a number of her favourite places. Margaret was so very generous, with a delight in 'sharing' her knowledge and experiences and helping in every way possible, whether in personal problems or professional ones. 

I always admired Margaret's exceptional musical skills, and her high standards in every kind of work which she undertook. Both she and I were perfectionists at heart, but she was the more successful in practise. I remember her with deep affection, and with sincere gratitude for all the new experiences to which she introduced me so enthusiastically.

With grateful thanks to you and all good wishes

Yours Sincerely

Hilda Hunter

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