It is one of those delightful ironies that the man who gave Evertonians their Z-Cars anthem, Fritz Spiegl, was himself an enthusiastic Red and Anfield season-ticket holder. Indeed, he once persuaded the BBC that it was essential that he travelled to Italy for a project upon which he was working, the trip surprisingly coinciding with a Liverpool European competition away game.
Fritz Spiegl once said that after coming to Liverpool he hated the place for six weeks and then fell in love with it. Like many folk adopted by the city he became a great advocate, enhancing its musical life and humorously venerating its language in such popular little volumes as Learn Yerself Scouse.
He was born on 27th January 1926 in Austria, of a Catholic father, Rudolf Samuel and Jewish mother, Josefine Fini (née Geiringer). After the Anschluss in 1938 the family had all its property confiscated and they knew the danger they faced from the Nazis. They were fortunate to escape the country. Fritz travelled to England under the Kindertransporte while his parents eventually travelled to Bolivia. He was not to see them again for fifteen years when he was on a tour of South America with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra [RLPO].
Once in England things went well for Fritz in that he was taken in by Capt. David Margesson, Conservative Chief Whip in the Chamberlain government and later Churchill’s Secretary of War. The Margesson family treated the young Spiegl much as another son and he was sent to Magdalen College School in Oxford. From 1941 he worked in an advertising firm and during this time took up the flute, his attainment being such that in 1946 he was successful in gaining a place at the Royal College of Music. Within just two years he took up the offer of the position of principal flautist with the RLPO, he would stay with them for 15 years, and Liverpool became his home for the rest of his life.
Spiegl founded two influential musical groups, the Liverpool Music Group and the Liverpool Wind Ensemble. he was also instrumental in reviving Donizetti’s opera Emilia di Liverpool. In 1952 he married the composer and harpsichordist Bridget Fry, and in 1962 they gained some unexpected national prominence. She had been given a commission by the BBC to write the theme music for the new police series Z Cars. Fritz came across the Irish-Liverpool skipping song Johnny Todd and suggested it to her. The rest, as they say is history. And if you know your history…..but that’s a different song.
For someone who could not speak a word of English when he arrived here as a 13-year old he gained a mastery and understanding of it which many native speakers could not rival. In 1965 he set up The Scouse Press, publishing Learn Yerself Scouse which was printed on a press in his own house. He wrote for a number of newspapers, including a column for the Daily Telegraph called Usage and Abusage. He also did a considerable amount of broadcasting, presenting Radio 4’s Start the Week from 1972-1980. His composition for the BBC Radio 4 UK Theme, combining folk tunes from each of the home countries, was played at the start of every day’s broadcasting from November 1978 to April 2006. He also composed the theme for the Z Cars spin-off Softly, Softly and for the radio programme in The Psychiatrist’s Chair.
Fritz Spiegl died suddenly, on 23rd March 2003, whilst dining with his second wife, Ingrid Romnes, and friends.He lived at 5 Percy Street L8 during much of the 1950’s before moving to a mansion overlooking Princes Park, 4 Windermere Terrace, his home until his death
Fritz and Bridget Spiegl's home during the 1950's..
Spiegl's home from the late 1950's until his death in 2003.
The Wikipedia entry is fairly basic. There are some excellent obituaries available online including the Independent , and the Guardian. There are some interesting pieces on YouTube, including an interview from 1983 with Bob Azurdia on Radio Merseyside in which he discusses his book Keep Taking The Tabloids. You can listen to a 1983 Radio 2 interview with John Dunn on the Alchetron.com website.
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