Miriam Morris
Miriam Morris
Old Bedalian 1960

I was born in Manchester in 1943 and we moved to London when I was 7, following the death of my Father.

My father was a GP with a great interest in dermatology. At one point, the Mayo Clinic, having read an article of his in the Lancet, wanted him to visit and lecture. He was very modest, and refused.

My mother was a concert pianist and wonderful teacher. She had studied with the great English pianist, Solomon.

Bedales was chosen for me, partly because other members of my family had gone there. These were David (Buster) De Saxe and his sister Sonia. My cousin, Michael Lasserson was also there for a shorter time. I was always interested in art and music, so Bedales was a good choice as far as creative subjects were concerned.

I was first at Dunhurst where I was very homesick. I was much happier when I went up to Bedales.

I was very inspired by Christopher Cash who taught me excellent draughtsmanship skills. I also very much enjoyed drama with Rachel Carey Field. I loved going to Barn where Biddy Cormack taught me weaving and other handicrafts.

Latterly, having been a professional musician all my life, I have also become a visual artist. I carried on painting and drawing when I left school and only stopped when I became pregnant with my first child. I became interested in Early Music, and the viola da gamba in particular, just before emigrating to Australia in 1975. I have performed and taught the viola da gamba and baroque cello.

My fondest memories of Bedales are the library, the surrounding countryside (but, not wet run) and spending time in the library. I enjoyed Jaw and was very inspired by Trevor Huddleston’s talk.

As far as I can remember, I left school after Block 5. I always wanted to be a musician. I was influenced by coming from such a family of musicians which included Sascha Lasserson, who I had learnt the violin from when we moved to London. Sascha was the doyen of the Russian school of violin playing in Europe, having studied under Leopold Auer alongside Jascha Heifetz and Mischa Elman. My mother was a huge influence on me. She taught me the piano and, most importantly, how to teach.

I regret the fact that I didn’t avail myself of OB activities. I took time to adjust. I had joined the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain as a ‘cellist while at school. I remained in the orchestra when I left. This helped the transition, as did painting. I studied the cello privately with John Shinebourne, who in turn had studied with the great Emanuel Feuermann and was himself a fine teacher. He led the cello sections of the BBC Symphony Orchestra in the 1930s, having sat alongside John Barbirolli in the British National Opera Orchestra. He was principal cellist in the Covent Garden Orchestra. I went to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where I went to lectures and had some piano lessons with Alfred Neaman.

My first job was after I got married. I was a peripatetic cello teacher for Liverpool Education Department. (The slums of Liverpool being very different to Bedales). I did like it. I have always been a teacher. 

I have always been interested in pedagogic writing and have articles and some books published. I wrote the previous syllabus and the previous and present Technical Work Books for the Australian Music Examinations Board. I have taught at various universities in Australia, including the Universities of Adelaide and Melbourne, also the Victorian College of the Arts where I very much enjoyed giving courses on the art of teaching. I continue to teach privately and to paint at my studio. When COVID 19 is well and truly over, I shall resume having exhibitions.

I love walking, keeping fit and and reading. I am at present writing my memoirs. I live with my partner Alan Loney, master letterpress printer, poet and prose writer. He is presently occupied with writing a work on Heraclitus, Greek philosopher 6th – 5th century BC.

It is so long since I visited Bedales. Alas – the tyranny of distance. If and when I come to England again, I will definitely return.

I would advise myself in hindsight to take advantage of the broader education while at school, specifically learning geography and sticking at maths. I would advise myself to get some formal qualifications in English Literature.

I don’t think I am the slightest bit surprised as to my life course. Long may it continue.

Visit Miriam's website here.

We are grateful to Miriam for providing this profile in May 2021.