British violinist’s concerts a thanks for French cancer care

A former first violinist for the London Symphony Orchestra is holding free nightly concerts in the French village where he lives in the run up to Christmas as a tribute to the country’s medical services

19 December 2020
Nigel Broadbent (Left) with American conductor Michael Tilson Thomas. Mr Broadbent played his final concert for the London Symphony Orchestra in 2017
By Connexion journalist

British violinist Nigel Broadbent is hosting free concerts every night in his local village in southern France to give thanks to the French medical services that helped him recover from tonsil cancer. 

He was formerly the first violinist for the London Symphony Orchestra and has also worked with greats such as Paul McCartney, John Lennon and Abba. 

He has lived in the small village of Tavernes, in the Var department, since 2004. He was recently diagnosed with cancer and treated at the Saint-Joseph hospital in Marseille.

Now, one year after his treatment ended and he was given the all clear, he is offering violin concerts to the residents of his village as a way of saying thanks for the treatment. 

“When I knew I was ill, I started to record pieces of music because I believed I was never going to be able to play again,” he told local newspaper Nice Matin.

“This cancer is very close to where I place my violin. At one point, I had tubes everywhere coming out of me. I could no longer swallow. 

“The treatment has been effective as this month I received the results that everything is fine.”

He said his evening concerts are a little gift to say thank you to everyone. 

“Before Christmas, people often don’t have much time, it’s a period when everything goes very fast. I try to offer meditation concerts, to relax people. It’s a different style from what I am used to. I’m more free.”

Mr Broadbent was a member of the London Symphony Orchestra for 38 years, retiring in 2017. 

While there, he worked with many musical greats but also on film scores. 

“Three Harry Potter films, Star Wars, Superman…” he said. 

"I played at the opening ceremony of the London Olympics. At one point, Mr Bean appears on the screen playing the piano. I am right behind him. It was incredible."

A Europhile who found a home in France

Mr Broadbent moved to the Var department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region in 2004 and has lived there ever since. 

“I found a house in Tavernes. I am in love with the place, with this forest. I have travelled enough during my career, I’m fed up of it. I love the wine here but since my illness I can no longer enjoy it. My mouth has been burnt.”

On the topic of Brexit, he said he is not a fan.

“It is an utter stupidity,” he said. 

“I am a Europhile. What has happened is crazy. We’ll see soon.

“In my opinion, Europe is a good thing. I am not in favour of nationalism. Music is international. It unites people through non-verbal communication.”

“Truthfully, I miss very little about the UK. I like everything here. Maybe the atmosphere of pubs and English beer. But that’s all…”

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