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John Scott - St Paul's Organist and 'musical genius' dies aged 59

The entire St Paul's community is shocked and sincerely dismayed at news that John Scott, a 'musical genius' regarded as one of the world's finest organists and who led the music at St Paul's Cathedral for 14 years, has died suddenly aged just 59.

St Thomas Church in New York, where John worked since leaving St Paul's in 2004 reported his death from a heart attack on Wednesday, 12 August 2015.

Having just returned from a tour of Europe, he was taken suddenly unwell and later died in Roosevelt Hospital with his new wife Lily by his side. Heartbreakingly, Lily is due to give birth to their first child next month.

John's career at St Paul's spanned more than a quarter of a century, with the last 14 years as Organist, leading the vast and varied musical output of the Cathedral including directing the world-famous choir of men and boys.

Having been a vastly talented young organist, both at St John's College, Cambridge and the Royal College of Organists, he truly cemented his reputation as one of the world's finest players during his time at St Paul's. Throughout his life he maintained a prolific schedule of tours and recordings, and in 2004 was made a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order, a personal gift of HM The Queen for his services to the Cathedral.

Working under John as St Paul's Organ Scholar in the late 1990s was Simon Johnson, now the Cathedral's Organist himself. Speaking about his friend and mentor from his own European tour, Simon said: "John was a musical genius with exacting standards that few, if any, of us could dream of matching. As an organist, his achievements are unparalleled. He leaves us at the height of his powers as a musician. I'm currently wandering around Helsinki in a complete daze about it all - and I have to play one of his favourite pieces tonight - Reubke's Sonata on the 94th Psalm - which will be very difficult. John had a deep faith and it will be a comfort to many that his strivings for musical perfection in life now find their fulfilment in the perfection of heaven."

The Reverend Canon Michael Hampel, Precentor of St Paul's, added: "John Scott shaped a generation of music-making in the service of God and the Church here at St Paul’s and we were delighted to work with him again recently - together with the choristers of St Thomas Church - in 2012 in Dresden and again heard his brilliance at the organ console at St Paul’s when he gave a stunning recital here a couple of years ago. His memory remains golden and this is a very sad day for St Paul’s Cathedral where we offer our love and prayers to John’s wife Lily, his family and friends - and to the community at St Thomas Church, New York.

As well as his wife, Lily, John is survived by his children Emma and Alex, and sisters Judith and Helen. 

Prayers will be said at today's Evening Prayer and on a suitable future occasion to be decided.

Watch John in his element, conducting a full choir, orchestra and audience of 2,500 people at the 1997 Christmas concert.