James Howard StiffBMJ 2008; 336 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39554.686505.BE (Published 24 April 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:965
- Graham Stiff
Jim’s mother died from metastatic carcinoma of the breast when he was 9, an event that he rarely alluded to, but which had a profound influence on his life and was seminal in his taking up a medical career. He was born into a family with strong musical connections. One uncle was Charles Gregory, first horn player with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, another was Wilfred Stiff, who helped found the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and was later managing director of the musicians’ agency Ibbs and Tillett.
Jim was educated at Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School for Boys, Barnet, and was persuaded by his uncles to audition for the Westminster Abbey choir. He recalled travelling to the auditions on his own and singing without an accompanist—something that he thought had helped him to gain a place in the choir. During the second world war and in the immediate post-war …