Rosemary Chrimes – Olympic Athlete, Landlady & Pianist

Publish Date: 25 June 2012

Rosemary Chrimes


“I originally come from the Scottish Borders. I remember my aunt encouraged me to start when I was nine or ten. I wasn’t the slightest bit interested. I was always out doing active, sporty things, and then five minutes before the lesson I’d do a little bit of practice. I’m not sure music really runs in my family, although one of my grandchildren (he’s in his twenties now) had the most wonderful ear as a child, and he could sit at the piano and make up little tunes. I was staggered at how good he was when he was a little boy. When I was in my twenties I thought, “This was silly, you must learn at least to read music, now you must do a little theory!” So I went through Grade V Theory and that wasn’t too bad. But I always found playing frustrating because I could sight-read but I couldn’t memorise. I had great difficulty playing anything without having the music in front of me. And then, getting married, having children and having a full time job, I left it for a few more years, then I came back to it because my second husband was a good singer. So I accompanied Brian a little bit. And then, I had music students staying in the house who were studying at the Conservatoire in Birmingham.

I’d managed to get up to Grade VIII when I was playing with my husband, but I still had no ambitions. I asked the students if they knew anyone simpatico who could give me a few lessons. I’ve been learning with Mikael for a few years now, some of us are very elderly students, just doing it for fun. The problem now is that all the things to do with age start piling in, you might have arthritis, your eyesight starts to go and you can’t see the notes. You need the notes printed large. In the libraries there are books with big print, so I would like music with big print. That would be extremely useful.

Some of my friends they think I’m crazy, others admire. Some say to me that they started as a child and then never had the courage to pick it up again. So I tell them that I started as a child and picked it up again at three different times. I like playing but I am scared still of performing. I don’t practise every day, there’s too much else to do. I’ve had the same piano for the last 20 years, a baby grand with a pleasant sound. Fortunately I’m in a detached house so I don’t have to worry about the neighbours. In fact, sometimes my teacher arranges a little concert in my house which is rather sweet because there’s a big room with a piano; therefore we gather and play together. It’s very pleasant. This happens every few months. Sometimes his very young students come, and they feel confident about performing in a private house, it gives them a good experience and I put a pile of toys in the corner for them to play with as well. We all profit in our own ways.” (Rosemary Chrimes)

Rosemary took part in the 1972 Olympics Games in Munich.  She has won a Gold Medal in the Commonwealth Games in Athletics.