Susi Jeans

Susi Jeans

Susi Jeans (1911 - 1993), otherwise Lady Jeans, was an Austrian-born organist, musicologist and noted teacher. Born in Vienna, she was the oldest child of Oscar and Jektaterina Hock. [Guy Oldham, "Susi Jeans: a Seventieth Birthday Tribute", p.47] From 1925 to 1931 she studied in Vienna with the composer Franz Schmidt and the organist Franz Schütz and in 1932 and 1934 at the Leipzig Kirchenmusikalisches Institut, Leipzig, with Karl Straube. In 1933 she was invited by the organist and composer Charles-Marie Widor to study with him. Her first concert tour in Britain, in 1934, was a great success and the following year she returned to play at the Handel Festival in Cambridge. During this tour she met the astronomer and mathematician James Hopwood Jeans, who she married in September that year. They lived together at Cleveland Lodge, Westhumble in Surrey. Sir James Jeans died in 1946, but Susi Jeans lived at the house until her death in 1993. She founded the Mickleham and Westhumble Festival in 1954, which was renamed the Boxhill Music Festival in 1966 and subsequently held at Cleveland Lodge almost until her death. She also founded and ran an annual summer school for organists.

Susi Jeans' concert tours took her all over Europe, the United States and Western Australia. She adjudicated major international competitions and from 1967 held a post at the University of Colorado. She is regarded as an important champion of historically-informed performance and of historically-aware restorations of old instruments.

Her scholarly interests ranged widely from organs, harpsichords and keyboard music, British music especially of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Austrian music, to topics as diverse as William Herschel, mountaineering and natural medicine. She published many articles in scholarly journals, as well as editions of music. Her pupils included many notable musicians: George Guest, Peter Hurford, David Lumsden, Davitt Moroney, Tim Rishton, David Sanger and others.

Lady Jeans bequeathed her house to the Royal School of Church Music in order that it could remain a centre for musicians. When the Royal School of Church Music relocated to Sarum College in Salisbury the Cleveland Lodge buildings, much restored and modified using Lottery money, were sold to property developers who have carried out controversial demolition and building work, some of it without planning permission. [ ['wphappsearchres.displayResultsURL?ResultID=270313%26StartIndex=1%26SortOrder=APNID:asc%26DispResultsAs=wphappsresweek2%26BackURL=%3Ca%20href=wphappcriteria.display%3ESearch%20Criteria%3C/a%3E'%3ESearch%20Results%3C/a%3E Planning Application Details ] ]

Further reading

Cecil Clutton, "The influence of Susi Jeans", "Aspects of Keyboard Music: Essays in honour of Susi Jeans" (Oxford, 1992), 10-12

"Lady Jeans at 70: a Conversation with Gillian Weir", "Organists' Review" 67/2 (1982), 9–14

Guy Oldham, "Susi Jeans: a Seventieth Birthday Tribute", "Musical Times" 122 (January 1981), 47-49

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