Donald Swann 1923-1994

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Wednesday 1st June 1994

MAINSTREAM ENTERTAINER Donald Swann died on 23rd March 1994 at the age of 70 in a South London hospice after a two-year battle with cancer. In the 1950s and 1960s he achieved worldwide fame playing the piano in a satirical comedy duo with paraplegic raconteur Michael Flanders. Flanders And Swann's songs about gnus, gassmen, hippopotami and numerous other subjects became hugely popular in concert and on radio and television.

At the end of the comedy duo career Donald Swann began to write music of quite a different kind. For the remainder of his life he was to produce music that reflected the Christian beliefs he had held since becoming a Quaker in his teens. Swann's fame opened doors for him to share his Christian faith in many different ways - from the pulpit of St Paul's Cathedral to the World Council Of Churches meeting where he worked on a musical with the Archbishop Donald Coggan. He set to music the words of various Christian writers including JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis. In the 1980s he was again delighting an audience of millions when he collaborated with Arthur Scholey to produce modern hymns for the BBC Education Department's radio assemblies for primary schools.

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