MTPR

Infamous Murderer Of Children Can't Be Cremated To Music Of Berlioz, Court Says

Oct 13, 2017
Originally published on October 13, 2017 10:14 am

Ian Brady killed five children in the 1960s, in an infamous case of depraved murder. Brady died five months ago, but arguments over disposing of his body only now seem to be over, with a U.K. court saying Brady will be cremated with "no music and no ceremony," rejecting a plan to play the "Witches' Sabbath" portion of Hector Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique.

Between 1963 and 1965, Brady and his partner Myra Hindley committed the Moors murders in the Manchester, England, area. They abused, tortured and killed five victims, ages 10-17. In at least one case, they recorded their actions. Hindley died in 2002.

The young victims were Keith Bennett, Lesley Ann Downey, Edward Evans, John Kilbride and Pauline Reade. Bennett's body was never found.

Brady's death in May sparked a dispute over the handling of his remains; earlier this week, the matter went before the High Court of England and Wales, in nearly two days of hearings. On Friday, Chancellor Geoffrey Vos ruled that decisions regarding Brady's remains should be taken out of the hands of chosen executor, Robin Makin.

The judge pointedly rejected a request to play the fifth movement of Berlioz's symphony during the cremation, quoting a Wikipedia entry that cites the composer's notes:

"Fifth movement: 'Songe d'une nuit du sabbat' (Dream of the Night of the Sabbath): In both the program notes, Berlioz wrote:

" '[The musician] sees himself at a witches' sabbath, in the midst of a hideous gathering of shades, sorcerers and monsters of every kind who have come together for his funeral. Strange sounds, groans, outbursts of laughter; distant shouts which seem to be answered by more shouts. The beloved melody appears once more, but has now lost its noble and shy character; it is now no more than a vulgar dance tune, trivial and grotesque: it is she who is coming to the sabbath ... Roar of delight at her arrival ... She joins the diabolical orgy ... The funeral knell tolls, burlesque parody of the Dies irae, the dance of the witches ... ' "

Vos wrote: "I have no difficulty in understanding how legitimate offense would be caused to the families of the deceased's victims once it became known that this movement had been played at his cremation. I decline to permit it."

Vos noted that Makin has refused to say what he plans to do with Brady's ashes. When media reports emerged earlier this year that Brady wanted his ashes scattered in Glasgow's River Clyde, officials in Glasgow said they wouldn't allow it. Local governments around Manchester also sought to block any plans to scatter ashes there. The judge had rejected an offer from Makin to disclose his intentions in private — with no other witnesses.

In his ruling, Vos wrote, "The deceased's wishes are relevant, but they do not outweigh the need to avoid justified public indignation and actual unrest."

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.