Obituary: Lance Dossor (1916-2005)
Harry Lancelot ('Lance') Dossor, who died on December 3, 2005, was one of the most long serving and highly regarded teachers of piano at the Elder Conservatorium of Music. Born and schooled at Weston-super-Mare in the West of England, he achieved a great boost to his musical career when, at the age of only 16, he won a major open scholarship to the Royal College of Music in London (a conservatoire with which the Elder Conservatorium has strong, historic links, dating back to the original scholarship endowments by Sir Thomas Elder at both institutions in the 1880s). There he studied piano with Herbert Fryer and composition with Herbert Howells, and won numerous awards and prizes.
He then scored a series of stunning successes in major international piano competitions, including Franz Liszt Prize at the third Vienna International Competition in 1936; Fourth Prize and a Special Prize at the third Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw in 1937; and Fourth Prize in the third Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels in 1938.
Mr Lance Dossor then served briefly on the part-time staff of the Royal College of Music before being called up for military service in 1939. He was commissioned into the Royal Artillery and served with them in Egypt. He was then invited to join ENSA (the troops' entertainment wing), whilst still with the RA, and did tours of Germany and Italy. He was in uniform until 1946, when he rejoined the staff of the RCM, now as a full-time "professor of piano".
In 1953 the fourth Elder Professor of Music, John Bishop, headhunted Mr Dossor and enticed him to the Elder Conservatorium, initially on a three-year contract. He stayed and became a central figure in the musical life of the University of Adelaide. After his retirement from full-time teaching, at the end of the 1970s, Mr Dossor continued to teach part-time for another 20 years. In total his teaching career at the University of Adelaide spanned some 47 years.
In November 1940 he married Diana Levinson who had been a fellow student at the Royal College (she was a harpist and pianist). She survives him along with their four children.
In December 2002, Mr Dossor was presented with the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Adelaide. His family have kindly donated a sum of money to award a Lance Dossor Prize in Piano Performance for 2006 and 2007.
Contributed by Professor Charles Bodman Rae,
Director/Dean, Elder Conservatorium of Music