|MEACOCK FAMILY TREE|
Click to see enlarged Eileen with carers Kamila & Mrs Patel (2007)
Photo of family gathering for Muriel Meacock’s wedding included are Eileen & Florence Rowe.
Florence Louisa Meacock, daughter of Frank (b.1857) and Sarah Meacock (nee Goddard),
born Bromley 1878 (died c1969), married John Bedford Rowe in 1911. Children- Eileen Florence (1914-2008) & Basil/William?(1917-1929).
See Thomas Meacock web page for Family details of Eileen's ancestors and close relatives
A page of the Sunday Telegraph REVIEW -16 Jan 1994- with a story about Eileen’s paino teaching reads :
This brings us to Ealing, and to Miss Eileen Rowe. Ealing, for the next few years until Miss Rowe retires, is the place to live if you want your children to fall in love with the piano to such an extent that they are awarded diplomas in their teens. She is 79 and has been teaching the piano almost every day since she was 18. She has lived in the same house since 1932, and she has at least one piano in every room.
Her house, over the years, has become a kind of piano-teaching factory. All day, every day, children come in and out for lessons. Miss Rowe herself has 56 pupils a week, and no day off. She has lunch at 11.30, cooked by her housekeeper, and eats the leftovers for supper after eight hours of teaching. In the spare bedrooms and parlours, other teachers come in and give lessons. Miss Rowe loves exams, and loves entering children for competitions. It is unfashionable to be quite so keen on exams. But the truth is that children are fascinated by exams, and fantasise about getting distinctions. Miss Rowe kindles her pupils' competitive urge by putting up notices in her hall: "Congratulations" to four children who have won scholarships to schools, and exam results in different-coloured pen for pupils who earned distinctions, merits and passes. She cannot mention a child without telling you what the child is on, and it is usually high: the first pupils I saw were a nine year-old in plimsolls and plaits playing a Mozart Fantasie for Grade V1, and a tiny Japanese girl pouring musicality into a Grade 1 piece called "Corranto" by Anon. The lessons are a joy. Why? First, Eileen Rowe is deeply interested in her pupils. She remembers everything about them. And after 60 years of teaching (for example) Fur Elise, she is not tired of it. "One and two and three and la la la," she sings heartily along with a young boy who has fallen in love with Fur Elise and decided to learn it, hard though it seems by page 2." Up down, up down, up down ." That "up down" refers to pedalling. Pedalling is Miss Rowe's speciality. As soon as they can reach, dangling from the stool, children are taught the difference between direct pedalling and legato pedalling, and it helps them to make even the dullest Grade 1 "Lesson in C" sound like Wigmore Hall music. Examiners are deeply impressed, and so are panels at festivals. At the Kingston Festival, the Hounslow Festival, the Richmond Festival, Miss Rowe's children win prizes, and their teacher is not afraid to boast about them. She is not, by any means, a leg-slapper; she is nice to her pupils and gives them a 20p piece if they do something especially well. But she won't let a note go by if it isn't properly played; f if it says "f,p if it says"p", and so on. "You'll lose marks if you don't play that G softly." and as for practice: "They get it from me if they don't practise. They get the sack. I wont have them. It's a waste of time." Shne eats bits of cut-up apple all afternoon to keep her strength up. Her cat, Trebel, lounges by the fire. And how do you prevent children from giving up in their teens? Piano teachers write articles with titles such as "Piano Playing Need Not be Lonely" , addressing this problem. Modern thinking is this: first, make sure that by the time they are 13, pupils are so good that they are adicted and have already passed through the trough of despondency. Second: have them play in ensembles, with voilins and flutes and cellos. A teenager will give up if made to wade through five flats on an upright piano facing the wall when she could be snogging. The pianist Katherine Durran, who teaches piano part-time at Camden School for Girls, speaks with feeling about how important it is not to isolate the piano from every other aspect of a teenagers life. "I talk to the girls about what they are doing in History, English and Art, and we put the music into its context. I also link it in with their PE and Games-- the technique of piano is very much in keeping with gymnastics and dance." She swung her arm while talking, demonstrating the lack of tension which is so vital to good piano playing. And if a Camden girl hasn't done her practice, she doesn't give her a rocket. "We just talk about what she's doing at school. The girls come back week after week because they know I won't be cross. Piano teachers are as zealous about Saving the Teenager as missionaries are about saving souls. Easing a piano-playing teenager through the confusing years of adolescence is a delicate task, and there is no proven method. The strictest of the spinsters use pure fear; the most humane of the younger teachers nurture the teenager's "motivation from within". Lots of teenagers do drop off, but a saved teenager --one who playes whole Beethoven sonatas at 25, and practises them --- is rewarded by a lifetime of delight and of giving pleasure to others.
Eileen taught the piano for 75 years and in the process earned a nationwide reputation as a source of inspiration for young people from the time of their very first lesson; few piano teachers in Britain could match her influence. As well as teaching the piano, she trained and encouraged young teachers (many of them her former pupils) at the start of their careers. This she did through the Eileen Rowe Pianoforte School, which she established at her large Edwardian house in Ealing, west London, and which at one time boasted 11 teachers, together with various secretaries and helpers. Eileen Rowe was born on June 20 1914 at Hanwell, west London, the daughter of a civil engineer. She was descended from a family of prosperous South Ealing farmers and landowners named Meacock. Her only sibling, a brother, died as a child. Her parents were not musical, and it was Eileen's grandmother who discovered the girl's interest in music. Attempts were made to find her a good teacher, and when she was 15 Eileen at last found one in a Mrs Cooper, who had been a pupil of the celebrated pianist Alfred Cortot. With Mrs Cooper's help her playing blossomed; and, realising how badly her early progress had been hampered by indifferent teaching, Eileen resolved to become a first-rate piano teacher, to provide excellence in laying good foundations for young people. In her late teens she attended lectures and seminars given by, among others, James Ching and Tobias Matthay. Lessons with Mrs Cooper were supplemented by further studies at the Royal Academy of Music under Nellie Holland, and by the time she was 21 Eileen Rowe had passed her LRAM (Licentiate, Royal Academy of Music) diploma. In no time at all she established a reputation for excellence that attracted an ever-growing number of aspirant pupils, and throughout the Second World War, for the duration of which she was drafted to work in the Savings Bank, she continued to teach in the evenings and at weekends. In the event of an air-raid a lesson would continue, with teacher and pupil sheltering beneath the piano. In 1941 her father was killed in a daytime air-raid on the City, leaving Eileen and her mother, neither of them particularly domesticated, in a large house, reliant on staff to cook, clean, and garden for them. Most of the staff remained in the Rowes' service until they died and many of them became institutions in themselves. Eileen Rowe's greatest musical inspiration at this time came through meeting the pianist Maurice Cole, one of the BBC Third Programme's first broadcasters. Cole gave her tuition, and invited her to rehearse piano concertos with him, playing the orchestral parts on a second piano. In 1945, for the celebrations for the ending of the war, Alec Sherman, then conductor of the New London Symphony Orchestra, invited Eileen to provide, at only two days' notice, seven children to perform the toy instrument parts of Haydn's Toy Symphony at Hampton Court. Alec Sherman was married to the internationally renowned pianist Gina Bachauer, who was impressed by the enthusiasm with which Eileen Rowe prepared her young pupils. The performance of the work by Haydn was a great success, and the association continued for several years. Although Eileen Rowe was a teacher rather than a performer, she was able to demonstrate a piece with a clear sense of style and strong emotional impact, even if the playing was not as accurate in notes as it might have been; and her passion for music-making was infectious.click to enlarge Eileen's home and Music School
More than 2,000 children began their musical life with her. Several went on to become professional pianists – Gillian Spragg, Vanessa Latarche and Deborah Shah to name but three – and numerous others to be freelance musicians of one kind or another. Her warmth radiated through to everyone she taught, but she could be formidably direct to the ill-prepared. Her enthusiasm for music festivals and Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music examinations was well-known. Examiners who knew of Eileen Rowe's reputation and who visited her school to examine would know that they were in for several days of wonderful piano–playing. Many of her students appeared in the finals of the BBC Young Musician of the Year; others were victorious in the National Junior Piano Playing Competition. Almost equal to her love of music was her passion for tennis. At school she was the undisputed champion, renowned for a devilish sliced underarm serve. During Wimbledon fortnight her students became accustomed to having lessons given with a television set close to hand. She did not miss a trick, either from the student or from the tennis court. She was also a keen fan of snooker on television, and an avid, if erratic, motorist. She never married, but her students, to whom she devoted herself unconditionally, became her family.
A larger than life character and a Grande Dame of the piano world, Eileen’s reputation as one of the country’s finest and most naturally gifted piano teachers will live on in the memories of all of us who came into contact with her. To all of her students, Miss Rowe was a matchless example of what can be achieved through personal determination and will-power. Born in Hanwell on the 20th June 1914, Eileen was descended from the prosperous Meacock family of landowners and farmers in South Ealing. She lived in Shakespeare Road, and went to school at St. Leonard’s School in Ealing, travelling there by bicycle. The family moved to 19 St. Stephen’s Road in 1929 when Eileen was 15, which was the year of her brother William Basil’s death from an illness, and this remained her lifelong home. Her father John Bedford Rowe was a civil engineer, who was killed in daytime air- raids in the city in 1941, leaving Eileen and her mother Florence in a large home, both undomesticated and relying on staff to cook, clean, and garden. Most of the staff remained in her service until they passed away and many of them became institutions in themselves. One of Eileen’s most loyal staff was her gardener Mr. Robinson, who called her ‘Missy’ for all of her life, and for whom she had marmalade sandwiches prepared every afternoon by her cook. Even if it rained, he would stand in the garden shed, sometimes for hours, waiting to do his gardening, and to eat his tea-time treat. As her cook had Sundays off, her neighbours, the Newbegin family, regularly entertained her for Sunday lunch and they said she became a sort of great aunt figure to their girls Nicola and Claudia. Eileen’s family include her cousin Beryl and her children, one of whom, Angela Yeadon, was Eileen’s God-daughter. Eileen’s gift for the piano was first discovered by her grandmother, though her parents had little interest in music. After several attempts to find a good teacher in her childhood, when she was 15 years old Eileen met Mrs Cooper, who had been a pupil of the famous pianist Alfred Cortot. With Mrs Cooper her playing blossomed and she realised how badly hampered her early progress had been by indifferent teaching. Accordingly she made it her ambition to become a first-rate piano teacher and her vocation to provide excellence in laying good foundations for young people was set in motion. In her late teens, she attended lectures and seminars which included those by James Ching and Tobias Matthay. Lessons with Mrs Cooper were supplemented by further studies at the Royal Academy of Music under Nellie Holland, and by the time she was 21 she had passed her LRAM diploma. ( In typical self-effacing fashion, her LRAM certificate was found in 2001, rolled up and heavily stained; she was just too busy teaching to worry about hanging it in her packed-full music room.) Right from the outset of her teaching career, the number of pupils requesting lessons with her grew fast due to her rapidly established reputation for excellence. During the war years she was drafted to the Savings Bank but she continued teaching in the evenings and at week-ends. Air-raids notwithstanding, the lessons continued with teacher and pupil sitting under the piano for protection, if the bombs seemed to be dropping too close for comfort. Her greatest inspiration at this time came through meeting the pianist Maurice Cole, one of BBC Radio 3’s first ever broadcasters. He gave Eileen tuition, and she, in turn, was requested to rehearse piano concertos with him, playing the orchestral parts on a second piano. In 1945 Eileen was thrown into the limelight of the celebrations for the ending of the war. At two days notice Alec Sherman, then conductor of the New London Symphony Orchestra, invited her to provide 7 children to perform the toy instrument parts of Haydn’s Toy Symphony at Hampton Court. Mr. Sherman was married to internationally famous pianist Gina Bachauer, who was impressed by the enthusiasm in which the piano teacher prepared her young pupils. The performance was a great success and the association continued for a number of years. Not many piano teachers in the UK could match the influence of Eileen, a leading light in the music profession as a piano teacher for some 75 years. She gave a lifetime of service to the training of students of all ages, but gained a nationwide reputation as a specialist in inspiring young people from the very first lesson until they went on to college or university. As well as teaching the piano, she trained and encouraged young teachers at the beginning of their careers (many of them former pupils of hers), by forming the Eileen Rowe Pianoforte School, which at one time consisted of as many as eleven teachers working in various rooms in the Edwardian house in Ealing, together with several secretaries and helpers and of course the cat ‘Treble’. The personalities that passed through the house are far too many to mention, but maybe one day we should all put together a book about the amazing piano school at 19 St. Stephen’s Road. I came into the picture in the sixties when my grandfather insisted on my having piano lessons as I showed an aptitude for it. My mother knew of Eileen’s reputation from her own childhood, and from the first meeting with this formidable lady at the age of 9, my passion for playing was ignited. I was duly started on the regime of Ministeps Book 1 and John Thompson…. It is well-known that Eileen would boast that I made it through Ministeps Book 1 in a week, a story she continued to proudly tell to my colleagues (much to my embarrassment), well into my thirties! Eileen did not marry nor have children, but her students, to whom she devoted herself unconditionally, became her enormous family. Although she was a teacher rather than a performer, Eileen was able to demonstrate a piece with a clear sense of style and strong emotional impact, even if the playing was not as accurate in notes as it might have been. Her passion for music-making was infectious, influencing over two thousand children who began their musical life with her, including several professional pianists along with countless other free-lance musicians. Her warmth radiated through to everyone she taught, but she could be formidably direct to the ill-prepared. Competitive and yet shrewd, her enthusiasm for music festivals and Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music examinations was well-known. Examiners who knew of Eileen’s reputation and who visited her school to examine would know that they were in for several days of wonderful piano – playing with numerous distinction marks. She became well-known for predicting the students’ results. One of my professorial staff at the Royal College of Music was one of her favourite examiners, and he tells a memorable story of finishing a day’s examining at St. Stephen’s Road, when Eileen said to him, “what do you think of the last girl, not so good I’d say eh? Probably around 126 don’t you think?” He went home and checked his papers, sure enough it was 126 marks. Many of her students appeared in the finals of the BBC Young Musician of the Year and numerous others were winners of the National Junior Piano Playing Competition. At all of these competitions she was there, providing constant support and encouragement, which extended to her accompanying me to International Piano Competitions as far afield as USA and Australia. Her passion for tennis was equal to her love of music, as at school she was the undisputed tennis champion, renowned for a wicked sliced underarm serve. During Wimbledon fortnight her students became accustomed to having lessons given with a television set close to hand. Much to her pupils’ parents’ astonishment, Eileen was able to multi-task with consummate ease. She did not miss a trick either from the student or from the tennis courts. An interest in snooker on television and a love of driving were other hobbies, though her driving could sometimes be erratic, and one travelled with her at one’s peril. Being so keen on ‘tests’, in her sixties she took many Advanced Driving Tests with the Ealing Road Safety Council – and the results showed progress. The first one was dire; she must then have taken lessons. The final report said ‘a safe, brisk drive – confidence: ample – must desist from removing both hands from steering wheel to gesticulate and point out landmarks’! Eileen Florence Rowe, died peacefully in Ealing hospital on 8th June aged 93, within days of her 94th birthday. She was able to remain in her own home until the day before, thanks to the help of Angela Arratoon, the Musician’s Benevolent Fund, and her many carers from the agency Carewatch to whom we are all very grateful. An avid reader of the Daily Telegraph, she always read with interest the obituaries of other musicians, rather pleased that she had out lived them. How proud she would be to know that she was acknowledged on these pages last week. Now I expect she is already making a name for herself in heaven, establishing the Eileen Rowe Pianoforte School for Little Angels. In the chambers in the sky, cries of ‘touch-push’ and ‘slur-off’ will be heard, and when the celestial grandfather clock strikes noon soon, she will be summoning St. Peter to join her at the table for ‘lunch, St. Peter, lunch’! Thank you Eileen for all you gave to us; through your generosity and caring you enriched our lives, by your example you made us strong, and above all you gave us the love of music which is one of the greatest gifts that you could bestow on all of us. This will be your everlasting legacy.