Cecilia Christina Cavaye
musician, teacher and expert on
Cavaye was born in
Cecilia Cavaye was a true child of both her parents. From her father, she took her interests in literature and history and an ability to expound matters in a clear and logical style. From her mother, however, she took, not only her musical interests and abilities, but also a certain sense of drama, which made any talk she gave, whether in the classroom or the lecture hall, something much more than a mere recital of dry facts.
She was christened Cecilia Christina after both her grandmothers. Cecilia McKenna was her maternal grandmother and Christina Cavaye her paternal one. However, as her life was to show, the choice by her mother of the name Cecilia was to prove prophetic.
was educated from the age of 5 at James Gillespie’s High School for Girls, then
one of the finest of a number of fine
showed early signs of musical ability, strongly encouraged by her mother,
herself a keen amateur pianist and occasional composer. At school, Cecilia became Dux of Music as
well as achieving general academic distinction. She was already progressing in
her music and in particular on the piano, which she studied with two leading
teachers, Miss Edna Lovell and Dr Colin Kingsley. She also studied the violin with Miss Edna
Arthur of the
sat the entrance examination for the
then embarked on a career as a free-lance pianist and music teacher. However, she combined her musical abilities
with a genuine and deep interest in teaching young people and after two years
realized that she was called to be a school teacher. Accordingly in 1967, she returned to study
this time at
first job was at Robert Gordon’s College in
work over 20 years at Watsons was outstanding.
Perhaps the thing of which she was proudest was the creation and training of
the Senior String Quartet, a very great achievement for a musician whose
primary instrument was the piano. The
Senior String Quartet won through to the finals of the National Chamber Music
Competition for schools in February 1990, where they played the extremely
demanding first movement of the Shostakovich String
Quartet No 2. After winning two
preliminary rounds, they were chosen to represent
Outstanding as her work with the quartets was, this was far from all that Cecilia achieved at Watsons. She taught, accompanied, conducted orchestras and generally made a substantial contribution to the musical life of the school. It has also to be said that she was an extremely popular teacher with all the pupils. She was of course a fine musician and a good teacher, but she had something extra – that touch of character which makes a teacher stand out in the memories of her students. Cecilia had that in abundance and she is fondly remembered by many Watsonians and many of her former colleagues. Around this time, she also did much work particularly at the Festival accompanying distinguished musicians in rehearsals. Cecilia was always a very fine accompanist.
had many other interests, but one that must be mentioned is her love of
Cecilia was a devoted member of Old St Paul’s Episcopal Church. She enjoyed the music there and gained real spiritual comfort at the church, where she took an active part in the services. She also gained much practical support from members of the congregation during her last illness.
All the above may tend to give the impression of a rather solemn intellectual and artistic figure. Nothing could be further from the truth. Cecilia Cavaye was an attractive and very vivacious dark-haired woman, who loved company and liked nothing better than a convivial chat with a gin and tonic and preferably a dispute about politics or some local issue such as the trams or the Scottish Parliament, on both of which she had very strong views. She never married, but she enjoyed male company. In 1972, she purchased a red Triumph Spitfire sports car, which remained one of her prized possessions until her death. At school and in many other places, she cut a striking figure in Delilah, as she christened it, and many will remember it well.
After her retiral, Cecilia looked after both her parents with real devotion. Her father did not die until 2004 and all her friends hoped she would then have many years of happy retirement. However, she only had about three years before she was diagnosed with the illness which eventually killed her. At the end, she died in the loving and patient care of St Columba’s Hospice. She is mourned by a large number of cousins, and hundreds of ex-pupils, their parents and many dear friends, in whose lives her passing has left a gap.
Cecilia at Cavaye family gatherings in 1964 and 2000
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