John Longmire


John Longmire (1902 – 1986) was born in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire. He began learning the piano at an early age, and in 1909 joined the choir of the Parish Church. It was here that, at the age of seventeen, he became an articled pupil of Alan Stephenson with whom he studied piano, singing and composition. In 1923 Longmire entered the Royal College of Music as a Gervase Elwes Memorial scholar. His principal piano teacher was Arthur Alexander, who introduced Longmire to John Ireland, initiating a life-long friendship, with Longmire producing in 1969 his book “John Ireland – Portrait of a Friend”. From his student days Longmire showed a deep interest in music education, both of children and adults. Piano, song and operetta compositions for the young would occupy him for most of the rest of his life, apart from the years of World War 2 when he became a schoolmaster. His interest in adult education occupied him from 1928 for ten or so years after he joined the staff of the Bec Literary Institute, where he taught with conspicuous success. It was, however, as a widely published composer of piano pieces and songs for children that Longmire acquired his reputation as a master of his craft. An accomplished miniaturist, his imaginative genius was apparent in his earliest published collection (Nine Insect Pieces [1925]). After a stint of teaching in New Zealand (1951-1955) Longmire settled on Guernsey, where his name lives on in two prizes awarded annually in the island’s Eisteddfod.

Peter Young