About Ken as a cellist

Kenneth Lawrence Law was born into a family of classical musicians and theatrical performers, in Brixton. Brixton had been one of London's major shopping centers over the previous 40 years and since 1900 had become home to many theater and music hall artists.

Ken had said “It was much quieter then and the home of many music-hall artists. My parents were in the business but I think they were wise to keep me out of it - it's a hard life nowadays.” (quote from a Ham and High article by Linda Talbot from August 15, 1986).

Taking a liking to the strings, Ken initially took up the violin but struggled to progress. At the age of fifteen, encouraged by his Uncle Frank Leonard, a cellist with the London Symphony Orchestra, he took up the cello. His cousin Lawrence Leonard was also a cellist but went on to become a respected conductor.

He had won a scholarship with the Royal Academy of Music in 1937 but by 1940 World War II prevented him from finishing. He became a member of the Honourable Artillery Company and continued to play the cello in the officers' mess hall and also for a dance band in which he would play the double bass.

In 1944 Ken was introduced to Barbara by her mother, Elisabeth Grindley who praised Ken as a wonderful musicain but would not agree to Barbara and Ken getting married until Ken secured a reliable job. By the end of the war Ken auditioned for the LSO in 1946. With only one other cellist auditioning at the time, he got the part. Two years later Ken and Barbara got married and moved to Hampstead in London.

Ken found he also had a talent in producing paintings and sketches. He made oil paintings on etched gesso and screen prints of cityscape, landscape, and abstracts in a cubism style between performing and during tours with the LSO. His wife, Barbara also made sketches and watercolour paintings of LSO musicians and conductors in action on rehearsals. For more info on Ken’s art go to Ken Law’s Paintings.

In 1964 the LSO would take their first world tour visiting Israel, Turkey, Iran, India, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan and the United States. They went on to make frequent world tours which provided Ken with great inspiration for his painting. They performed numerous concerts with the conductor André Previn, who was very encouraging with Barbara's sketching.

Ken continued painting and playing right up to just days before his death, completing 42 years as a cellist with the LSO. In 1987 he contracted acute myeloid leukemia and multiple myeloma and died on the 12th May 1988 at the Royal Free Hospital.