I HAD always particularly enjoyed Edward Elgar's music and became besotted by a choral piece of music I was singing with my choir in London called The Music Makers.

I was planning to move to the countryside and by chance moved to the Mill in Aymestrey beside the Lugg, where I later discovered he had sketched part of the work sitting on the banks of the River Lugg at Mordiford.

At that time, my brother was studying the organ at New College, Oxford. We regularly visited our family home in Eggleston, County Durham, and got talking to an elderly relative who mentioned there was another organist in our family (unknown to us) who apparently hailed from the Worcestershire area.

Imagine our surprise when we researched who he was talking about - Hugh Blair, organist at Worcester Cathedral from 1895 to 1897 and personal friend of Elgar.

Edward Elgar dedicated his cantata The Black Knight to Blair, who was conductor of Worcester Festival Choral Society, which gave the first performance on April 18, 1893, at a time when Elgar was little known outside Worcestershire.

Blair also asked Elgar to write an Organ Voluntary for the visit of some American organists to Worcester, and gave the first performance of Elgar's Organ Sonata.

This was not altogether a great success. Having been given the final score only days before the recital at Worcester Cathedral, he apparently made a hash of it - or at least that is what history reports.

Whilst I was singing in the 1977 Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester, I approached the then organist of Worcester Cathedral, Donald Hunt and told him I was Hugh Blair's great niece.

There was a pause while he considered what to say to me. Apparently Hugh Blair's career as cathedral organist came to an abrupt halt on Christmas morning in 1897 when he was found "drunk in charge of the organ".

He added, however, that Hugh Blair was a well respected organist and composer and his Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in B Minor for double choir is regularly performed in Cathedrals.

Blair also wrote a short organ sonata in G Major that my brother, Martin Hall FRCO, was going to play this June at a recital in Leominster Festival along with Elgar's Organ Sonata.

Sadly this evening had to be cancelled because of the rain damage to the wonderful organ at Leominster Priory.

CHRISSIE LAWSON is organist at Aymestry church.