Biography

Alexander Kok (also known as Bobby) was only nineteen when he was recruited for the first rehearsal of the legendary Philharmonia Orchestra, where he suddenly found himself in the world of experienced professionals. His career brought him into contact with many of the giants of the musical world. He fell in love with France while studying with Fournier and Casals and retired to Normandy at the end of his playing career. Using his accumulated knowledge he created a building in France with a perfect acoustic. There he provided coaching and rehearsal/recording space for talented young professional performers. Bobby returned to England in 2013 and remained there until he passed away in 2015.

Chronology:

1926Born in Brakpan, near Johannesburg, Transvaal on February 14th joining two brothers Darrell and Felix.
1931Moved to Johannesburg.
1932 Brother Myron Kok Born.
1935Given a cello made by a local carpenter which was too big. Auditioned for the choir of St Mary's Cathedral Johannesburg. Head Chorister.
1936Began studying cello with Mr Leftwich, later with Betty Pack. Played in local competitions with his brothers Darrell and Felix.
1938Moved to England.
1939-41Attended Haberdasher Aske's School, Lower School Captain 1940-41.
1942 Awarded the Ada Lewis Scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music.
1943 Loaned a Betts cello by the Royal Academy. Formed a duo with Joyce Hedges. Joined ENSA. Won the Piatti Prize awarded by the RAM.
1945 Began teaching at the London Violoncello School. Monthly BBC broadcast to South Africa with piano trio. Played in Jacques String Orchestra and Boyd Neel Orchestra. Heard Dennis Brain.
1945 Joined the Philharmonia Orchestra. Formed the Beaufort Trio with brother Felix Kok and Daphne Ibbott. Successful BBC audition
1947 Lessons in Paris with Pierre Fournier. Met Schnabel. Accepted as soloist by Ibbs and Tillett.
1949 Lessons with Pablo Casals. Met Suggia.
1951 Opening of the Royal Festival Hall.
1952 Toscanini and Cantelli.
1953 Resigned from Philharmonia. Heidelberg.
1954 Married Annette Ingold.
1955 Further lessons with Casals.
1957-59 Taught at Dartington Hall. Founded the Dartington String Quartet.
1960 Principal Cellist BBC Symphony Orchestra.
1962 Divorced Annette Ingold.
1962-63 Formed the London Octet and London Ensemble. Performed Mendelssohn Octet at Promenade Concert.
1964 Married Ysobel Danks, daughter of viola player Harry Danks. Three sons: Simon (1965) Darrell (1967) and Matthew (1971).
1965 Left the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Began working as a 'commercial cellist' for pop and television sessions.
1968 Tour of Europe with Menuhin (Bath Festival Orchestra). Covered a six month sabbatical for Roy Carter at Cape Town University.
1971 Founded the Cheltenham Music Centre. Recital tour of South Africa with Virginia Fortescue.
1976 Divorced Ysobel Danks.
1977 Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Music.
1981 Married Marian Hardy. Rebuilt Steanbridge Mill at Slad in Gloucestershire.
1983 Devised television series Sound of History. Attempted to buy the Old Bakery in Cheltenham to rehouse the music school and create a small concert hall, to be dedicated to the memory of Walter Legge. Plans confounded by local politics.
1986 Car-crash in Gloucestershire, all material for autobiography and The Sound of History burnt , as were two cellos and bows.
1987 Placed in receivership on what Bobby believed to be false evidence.
1988 Receivership rescinded. Next fifteen years spent trying to recover losses and to prove fraud.
1998 Moved to France. Created a building with a perfect acoustic for use by talented young performers.
2013 Returned to England after the passing of his friend Margaret Cook - flautist and composer.
2015 Bobby passed away on May 1st. Bobby's Obituary in The Telegraph can be read here