Thomas MATTHEWS (1908 - )
concert pianist
Children Self + Spouses Parents Grandparents Greatgrandparents
Thomas MATTHEWS (1908 - )


Eileen RALPH (1906 - 1995)
Thomas MATTHEWS (1876 - 1921) James MATTHEWS (1854 - 1929) John MATTHEWS (1816 - )
Bridget CONLON (1824 - )
Ann DOHERTY (1852 - 1894)

Mary SAVAGE (1882 - )

b. 1908 at Liverpool, Lancashire, England
m. 1940 Eileen RALPH (1906 - 1995) at Marylebone, London, England
Near Relatives of Thomas MATTHEWS (1908 - )
Relationship Person Born Birth Place Died Death Place Age
Grandfather James MATTHEWS 1854 Kilkenny, Ireland 1929 Wirral, Cheshire, England 75
Grandmother Ann DOHERTY abt 1852 Chester, Cheshire, England 1894 Cheshire, Merseyside, England 42

Father in Law William Henry RALPH 1875 Moonta, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia 1954 Nedlands, West Australia 79
Mother in Law Florence Ada ROBINSON

Father Thomas MATTHEWS abt 1876 Birkenhead, Cheshire, England abt 1921 45
Mother Mary SAVAGE 1882 Birkenhead, Cheshire, England

Self Thomas MATTHEWS 1908 Liverpool, Lancashire, England

Wife Eileen RALPH 1906 Subiaco, Perth, WA, Australia 1995 London, England 89

Sister Mary Josephine (Mamie) MATTHEWS 1909 Birkenhead, Cheshire, England

Uncle James Edward MATTHEWS 1875 Birkenhead, England
Aunt Ada Annie ISHERWOOD 1878 Manchester, Lancashire, England
Uncle William MATTHEWS abt 1878 Birkenhead, Cheshire, England
Uncle Edward MATTHEWS abt 1880 Birkenhead, Cheshire, England
Aunt Margaret MATTHEWS abt 1884 Birkenhead, Cheshire, England
Aunt Annie MATTHEWS 1885 Birkenhead, Cheshire, England
Uncle George Richard ALLPORT 17 Sep 1878 Pembrey, Llanelly, Carmarthanshire, Wales
Aunt Mary E (Nellie) MATTHEWS abt 1889 Buxton, Derbyshire, England
Aunt Agnes MATTHEWS abt 1891 Birkenhead, Cheshire, England
Uncle Harold Henry MATTHEWS 1899 Birkenhead, Cheshire, England
Aunt Margaret Alice Francis BAYMAN 1904 Greenwich, London, England 1987 Weymouth, Dorset, England 83
Uncle Edgar Vincent MATTHEWS 1901 Birkenhead, Cheshire, England
Aunt Pamela J MITCHELL

Cousin Margaret Ada Annie MATTHEWS 1901 Birkenhead, Cheshire 1987 Ynys Mon, Gwynedd, Wales 86
Cousin James Norman MATTHEWS 1903 Birkenhead, Cheshire 1987 Liverpool, Lancashire, England 84
Cousin George Warren ALLPORT 1910 Birkenhead, Cheshire, England 1991 Birkenhead, Cheshire, England 81
Cousin Patricia Margaret MATTHEWS abt 1923 2012 89

Brother in Law Eric Aubrey RALPH 1901 Leonora, West Australia, Australia 1982 Nedlands, West Australia 81
Sister in Law Florence Adelaide (Addie) RALPH 1903 Perth, WA, Australia
Sister in Law Julie Jean RALPH 1904 Subiaco, Perth, WA, Australia 1907 Subiaco, Perth, WA, Australia 3
Brother in Law James Emerson RALPH 1908 1991 83
Brother in Law Haydn Stuart ROGERSON 1902 Ormskirk, Lancashire, England 1971 St Marlebone, Westminster, London, England 69
Events in Thomas MATTHEWS (1908 - )'s life
Date Age Event Place Notes Src
1908 Thomas MATTHEWS was born Liverpool, Lancashire, England Note 1 16
abt 1921 13 Death of father Thomas MATTHEWS (aged 45) Note 2
1940 32 Married Eileen RALPH (aged 34) Marylebone, London, England Note 3 86
1995 87 Death of wife Eileen RALPH (aged 89) London, England Note 4
Note 1: England & Wales, FreeBMD Birth Index, 1837-1915 about Thomas Matthews
Name: Thomas Matthews
Registration Year: 1908
Registration Quarter: Jul-Aug-Sep
Registration district: Liverpool
Parishes for this Registration District: View Ecclesiastical Parishes associated with this Registration District
Inferred County: Lancashire
Volume: 8b
Page: 7
Note 2: see notes for son Thomas - father died when he was age 14 - i.e. about 1921
Note 3: England & Wales, Marriage Index, 1916-2005 about Thomas Matthews
Name: Thomas Matthews
Spouse Surname: Ralph
Date of Registration: Apr-May-Jun 1940
Registration district: Marylebone
Inferred County: Middlesex
Volume Number: 1a
Page Number: 1755
Find Spouse: Find Spouse
Note 4: Ralph Family Tree - 10 Dec 1995 - London
Personal Notes:
concert pianist - ancestry tree - Paulus Maximus Rogerson Family Tree - direct descendant

1950's played in the Proms, London
1961 South Australian Symphony Orchestra and ABC
1962 Conducted Victorian Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne (Eileen soloist)
1965 - Conducted Aust Youth Orchestra, Sydney
Possibly conductor of the Tasmanian Symphony Orchetra 1962 - 1968. Also conducted the Victorian Symphony Orchestra

Full text of "Violinists of Today" - printed 1949
A BRILLIANT English violinist of whom we
hear far too little, for some mysterious reason, is Thomas
Matthews : an artist of great technical skill.

He was born at Birkenhead on 9 May 1907, nephew
of J. E. Matthews, an accomplished violinist who used
to lead the orchestra attached to Sir Thomas Beecham's
opera company when on provincial tours. His uncle
taught him to play the fiddle when he was very small,
and even as a boy he was quite a proficient performer.
The full advantage of this early start was felt when he
was about fourteen, for the sudden death of his father
made it necessary for him to start earning his own living
forthwith. He was only fifteen when he was appointed
a member of the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra,
and within a year he achieved the further distinction
of being admitted to the ranks of the Halle Orchestra,
thereby coming under the influence of the late Sir
Hamilton Harty. He held these two appointments for
ten years, during which he studied with Albert Sammons,
and in due course rose to the position of deputy leader
of the Halle Orchestra. During this period four summers
were spent abroad in taking further lessons from Carl

In 1936 Matthews decided to try to specialize in solo
work and accordingly resigned his orchestral appoint-
ments, He came to London and gave three excellent
recitals at the Grotrian Hall, as a result of which he was
offered a series of concerts In Finland. On this tour he
made a significant impression in the Delius and Mozart
concertos, which still occupy a prominent position in
his repertoire.

On his return to England, Matthews gave a magnifi-
cent performance of the Elgar concerto with the Halle
Orchestra under Dr. Malcolm Sargent, thus inaugura-
ting the association of his name with this monumental
work. He has now played it well over thirty times in
a manner that leaves one in no doubt about his admira-
tion for it: he considers it to be the greatest modern
violin concerto we possess. Many a music-lover will
remember the astonishing performance he gave of it
at the Coliseum with the London Philharmonic Orches-
tra in June 1941 : his seemingly effortless handling of its
more difficult passages and these are a gruelling test of
any violinist delighted everybody in the large audience.

The advent of war in 1939 was, of course, a great
anxiety to all soloists who had to support themselves
by means of their musical activity, and it is not surpris-
ing that Matthews accepted an invitation to return
to the reconstructed Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
as leader. Shortly afterwards, however, a similar invita-
tion came from the London Philharmonic, and for one
season he led both of these orchestras, but the strain
proved too great, and in the following year he resigned
his Liverpool appointment in order to devote all his
time to the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and
naturally to whatever solo work could be fitted in
with their arrangements.

An important milestone in his career was the occasion
in 1940 when he gave the first performance of Benjamin
Britten's Violin Concerto with the London Philharmonic
Orchestra under the direction of Basil Cameron. This
is another extremely difficult work one critic, it will
be recalled, remarked that the composer had evidently
made a point of exploring the very limits of human
endeavour but the fact that Matthews was invited to
repeat it in the North of England and at Bristol with
the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Clarence Raybould,
shortly afterwards, speaks for itself.

During the later years of the war, Matthews made
several important tours of the Dominions, visiting New
Zealand, Australia, South Africa and the Middle East,
Among others, the concertos of Elgar, Britten, Beethoven,
Delius, Brahms and Prokofiev were played to very large
and appreciative audiences.

Another fine modern concerto with which the name
of Thomas Matthews will be associated is that of
William Walton. During 1946-7 he performed this out-
standing work with the Halle Orchestra under John
Barbirolli no less than nine times. In the same year
he was offered the head professorship of the violin at
the Royal Manchester College of Music, an appoint-
ment which he still holds with a professorship at the
Royal Academy of Music.

Matthews feels very strongly about the neglect of
British artists for those of other countries by some of
London's concert promoters. Ironically enough, British
nationality appears to be an impediment to the success
of an ambitious violinist only in English speaking
countries, for Matthews himself has played as a guest
soloist in Stockholm and Vienna, to mention but two
cities of culture and discrimination from which he has
received invitations. As an instance of this he has men-
tioned an occurrence in Johannesburg during one of his
tours. A discriminating musician happened to overhear
him playing over a few of the more difficult passages of a
concerto in his room at an hotel, and went at once to the
agent of a prominent impresario in a state of considerable
excitement. "I have been listening to a remarkably
brilliant violinist rehearsing at my hotel," he declared.
"You ought to get into touch with him immediately and
see if you can't fix up some concerts he has wonderful

"Have you discovered his name?" the agent asked

"Yes. It's Matthews the other replied.

The agent's face fell immediately, and he shook his
head. "You can't promote a name like Matthews!'

The point that Matthews so often makes is that the
English artist is so rarely given a fair chance of getting
accustomed to concerto work. This is absolutely
necessary if one is to rise to the height of such
people as Heifetz or Milstein, both of whom he greatly
admires. However brilliant he may be, a violinist
cannot expect to give a beautifully polished performance
of, say, the Beethoven concerto, if he never gets the
chance of playing it with a symphony orchestra in
public more than once a year. Practice at home, with
the studying of gramophone records, is not the same.

Matthews uses a Matteo Gofriller, and prefers
"Pirastro" strings aluminium-covered. These, unfor-
tunately, are extremely difficult to get at the present
time. He always uses a Hill bow and considers this to
be the finest make in the world. His pupils are allowed
considerable latitude in the holding of the bow, though
he invariably uses all four fingers on it himself. Similarly,
he believes that fingering is a personal matter dictated
largely by the shape of one's hand. Every violinist must
himself determine the attitude of his left hand, avoiding
movements that seem unnatural to him.

He thinks it is most essential that the violin student
should learn the right way to practise early in life. So
many work hard at the wrong sort of practice and do
not discover the way to true progress until they have
passed the "impressionable" years. The young violinist
must learn to become his own critic: the average student
does not listen enough to his own playing. A vitally
important point to remember is that the tone of the
violin you are playing sounds different to the right ear
than to the left, owing to the fact that the latter is much
nearer the instrument. It is the right ear that hears as
the audience hear, yet the vast majority of violin
students listen to their tone almost exclusively with the
left the right ear tends to become lazy because,
consciously or unconsciously, the effort of listening is
made by the left ear. This probably accounts for much
of the bad intonation we hear to-day.

Another criticism that Matthews often makes is that
there is too much uniformity in the playing of many
violinists to-day. So few seem to be able to explore the
amazing diversity of tone that the fiddle is capable of
producing: they generally succeed in doing so only when
they have become too old to give first-rate performances,
for the gift of producing a large variety of tones is one
that can come only with long experience. He considers
that among his contemporaries Ginette Neveu is one of
the few who are exceptionally gifted in this direction,
and he urges young violinists to listen carefully to this
artist's playing.

He advises the rising violinist to make a special
effort to identify himself with a particular work, or a
small number of works, or with a particular style of
playing. Some indeed many say that this form of
specialization is a disadvantage, but Matthews has come
to the conclusion, from his own very considerable
experience, that it is well worth while. So many of the
really great works for the violin require such a tremen-
dous amount of study if they are to be performed
perfectly that it is better to rise to fame with a reputation
for superb playing of two or three masterpieces than to
remain in the ranks of mediocrity with a vast general
repertoire. The standard of playing demanded to-day
is extremely high, since audiences are becoming more
and more discriminating every year, and of violinists in
particular, they expect impeccable artistry.

An interesting point arises here. It is the author's opinion
that before an average English audience a second-rate pianist
can "get away" with a piano-smashing orgy in which every
conceivable fault is apparent, yet the same audience will give
only the mildest applause to a well-performed violin concerto.
There is definitely a type of listener who honestly enjoys my
type of violent piano-thumping provided that the destruction
is carried out in the ritual of a concerto. Everybody knows
that it is far more difficult to produce a beautiful sound from a
violin than from a piano, yet virtuosity in a violinist is still
relatively unappreciated by the majority of concert-goers. It
requires something not far short of a miracle to make them
applaud as heartily as they would for a splashy keyboard per-

Matthews has always identified himself with the
Elgar concerto, and no one will deny that he is one of
the very few violinists in the world to-day who can give
a really intelligent rendering of this masterpiece. His
favourite concerto, incidentally, is the Brahms, which he
believes to be the most wonderful work yet written for
the violin, and one that demands the utmost skill in its

Until a few years ago Matthews was a keen golf and
tennis player, but he now finds that his time is wholly
occupied with music. His love of chess, on the other
hand, is undiminished. He considers it to be the greatest
game in the- world and confesses that he plays it at
almost every meal-time !
Source References:
16. Type: Vital Record, Abbr: England and Wales birth index 1837-1983, Title: England and Wales birth index 1837-1983
- Reference = (Birth)
- Notes: England & Wales, FreeBMD Birth Index, 1837-1915 about Thomas Matthews
Name: Thomas Matthews
Registration Year: 1908
Registration Quarter: Jul-Aug-Sep
Registration district: Liverpool
Parishes for this Registration District: View Ecclesiastical Parishes associated with this Registration District
Inferred County: Lancashire
Volume: 8b
Page: 7
86. Type: Vital Record, Abbr: England & Wales Marriages, 1538-1940, Title: England & Wales Marriages, 1538-1940, Auth: Ancestry.com, Locn: Ancestry.com
- Reference = (Marriage)
- Notes: England & Wales, Marriage Index, 1916-2005 about Thomas Matthews
Name: Thomas Matthews
Spouse Surname: Ralph
Date of Registration: Apr-May-Jun 1940
Registration district: Marylebone
Inferred County: Middlesex
Volume Number: 1a
Page Number: 1755
Find Spouse: Find Spouse