We were shocked to hear of Rohan Stewart-MacDonald’s tragic death in a road accident on 13th December 2017 at the age of 42.
A Purcell student when the School was in Harrow, Rohan was an outstanding musician and academic, leaving in 1993 with top grades in A Level Music, German and English to go on to read Music at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge. His school career was exemplary and he brought his characteristic enthusiasm, intelligence and highly developed, often quirky sense of humour to everything he did. A young man of great integrity, Rohan was indeed a model student in every respect, approaching all his work with an appealing blend of seriousness and fun. The proof, if ever needed, that Purcell students should not be subjected to the constraints of school uniform, Rohan was always impeccably dressed, often in a jacket and tie. Highly respected and universally popular with his teachers and peers, Rohan seized all opportunities at school with gusto. A first-study pianist, he brought great intelligence to his playing. He also had the makings of a fine voice, memorably singing with great panache the role of the Major General in an end-of-year production of ‘The Pirates of Penzance’, and was awarded a choral scholarship to Cambridge.
A true scholar, it is perhaps unsurprising that Rohan went on to have a successful career as a musicologist. He remained at Cambridge for several years, teaching undergraduate and postgraduate students. He completed his PhD in 2001 and between 2004 and 2009 he was Director of Studies in Music and Bye-Fellow of Murray Edwards College. Rohan’s publications include ‘New Perspectives on the Keyboard Sonatas of Muzio Clementi’, ‘Jan Ladislav Dussek: A Bohemian Composer «en voyage» through Europe’ (co-edited with Roberto Illiano), and ‘The Early Keyboard Sonata in Italy and Beyond’. He also continued to perform as a concert pianist, accompanist and choral singer.
In short, Rohan was a remarkable person. In addition to his published works, he will be remembered for his warmth, his thoughtfulness and his kindness, and the way in which he carried his formidable talent and intelligence with such understated modesty.