FRANK SPEDDING, 72, was a composer, teacher, lecturer, administrator, enigma, and wit. Most of his working life (1958-1985) was spent at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama where he was first appointed as ''teacher of harmony & counterpoint and allied subjects'' on a part-time basis on ''division II'', earning approximately 20 shillings ((pounds) 1) an hour. The academy had very few full-time salaried staff and the implications of these terms were that Spedding taught for some 30 hours a week or more to make a tolerable living.

He clearly made an early impression on the academy: by 1960, principal Henry Havergal was lauding him to the board of governors as ''a man imbued with many gifts'' and recommending that he be appointed principal teacher of harmony & counterpoint etc.

Simultaneously, the academy secretary was instructed to convey the warm congratulations of the board to Spedding on his award of the degree of doctor of music from London University - at that time, I believe, the youngest recipient of the degree.

He served in this senior post until Havergal's retirement in 1969, then under Kenneth Barritt until 1976. David Lumsden appointed him director of the school of music in 1981. Deteriorating health forced his premature retirement at the end of 1985, during the early years of Philip Ledger's principalship. Four formidable principals enjoyed his trust and he theirs.

Spedding was born in Crosby, Liverpool, in 1929 but educated in Nottingham which became his ''family home'' for the rest of his life. He showed an early talent at high school and his senior musical education was gained at the Royal College of Music in London, where he studied

composition with Bernard Stevens and the ''academic

disciplines'' with R O Morris (whose books on harmony

and counterpoint and figured bass still loom large on the trainee musician's checklist) and William Lloyd Webber (father to the Andrew/Julian duo).

He twice won the Royal Philharmonic Society prize (a rare achievement) and gained, as well as his associateship of the Royal College, his bachelor of music degree from London University. Later, he had much-valued personal tuition from Ralph Vaughan Williams.

National Service in the RAF followed. I understand he was a cook, but it does sound unlikely and Spedding was notorious for fabrication and invention: he once put it round that one of our colleagues was a champion tap-dancer.

I have to confess that while the simple facts about his life are quite easy to verify, the rest is difficult, because he was an intensely private man. I ''knew'' him for nearly 40 years, as did many of my colleagues, and I have been inundated with anecdotes, letters, reminiscences, and so on since his death. All

of them glow with love and affection and a terrible sense of loss for a dear friend, colleague, teacher, collaborator, yet, like me, the writers acknowledge that they never really knew him. I kept a lot of his letters (as did so many others) but I did not keep them all, and I am sorry about that.

All these letters, meticulously penned in that immaculate hand, testify to terrific intelligence, a cultured mind, concern for the well-being of others, political awareness, and excoriating wit. In Septem-

ber 1978, just after James Callaghan's ''No, I won't go to the country'' speech which led to the winter of discontent, Spedding writes with devastating prescience: ''I have the depressed feeling that Jim Callaghan has handed Mrs T at least 15 years in power.'' But he can not resist the little rider: ''Did you know her second name was Hilda?''

As a composer, Spedding tackled a wide variety of genres: his Opus 1 was a stunning piano quartet from 1951 and there's a 41-minute symphony from 1959. Other orchestral works include the Variations on an Albanian Tune of 1973 written for the National Youth String Orchestra of Scotland. The tune discovered in a bookshop in Charing Cross Road and not, as many assumed, in the country itself. (Frank claimed, in an old edition of the International Who's Who in Music, to enjoy Balkan travel, and he certainly visited a lot of dangerous places.)

Much of his best work was written to commissions from friends and colleagues: thus the brilliant toccata a tre for

the Glasgow (later Scottish) Trio (Frank called them the Cowcaddens Trio); a cello

concerto for Joan Dickson,

a piano concerto (after Art Tatum) for Lawrence Glover, who also received the eight impromptus after Paganini;

the diversions after Beethoven (''well after'', according to Spedding) for Leon Spierer and Lawrence Glover to celebrate the Beethoven bicentenary in 1970.

Then there was The Canterville Ghost (1975), a melo-drama for speaker (actor Robert Hardy) and orchestra; the Duo Elegiaco (1977) was for the husband-and-wife team of Peter Mountain and Angela Dale; Obituary Column (1987) was for Neil Mackie and Kathleen Livingstone (which like much of Frank's music took an awful long time in coming and was first performed long after its due date).

His piano quintet (1971), for which Frank himself had a high regard, was a McEwen commission from Glasgow University for Miles Coverdale and the Edinburgh String Quartet and was later broadcast on BBC Radio 3 by Lawrence Glover and the Alberni String Quartet. The John Currie Singers commissioned two works: Taylor's Death (1974) and Summer Songs (1981).

The JCS, as was their commendable way, ensured that there was more than one performance of each. I still think his masterpiece is the Bellini Studies, written for the piano duo team of Jack Keaney and Jean Hutchison. It seems to capture an introverted melancholy that reveals more about Spedding than his more boisterous utterances.

This will be performed as a memorial tribute by the original commissioners at the principal's midday concert in the RSAMD on Friday.

And then there were his carol arrangements, expressly written for the RSAMD Christmas concerts. I imagine that this was what Havergal recognised when he promoted him: a splendid neo-Edwardian conservative welcoming this extraordinarily talented ''new man''. I remember being completely captivated by his 1963 orchestration of the Burgundian carol Patapan.

Successive principals have continued to acknowledge Spedding's sterling contribution to this special event in the academy calendar.

He also wrote much for the theatre and for film and television: there was a major collaboration with lain Cuthbertson at the Citizens in the 1960s (mostly Brecht, an enduring love of his) and several joint efforts with Colin Chandler and Edward Argent at the RSAMD. Music for a production of Ubu Roi in the Royal Court in London received critical acclaim.

For television, he composed and directed music for Pharic McLaren's BBC production of the Weir of Hermiston and he worked with Murray and Barbara Grigor on several films, one of which, on Frank Lloyd Wright, won a major award.

And then there was Frank the teacher. It was a dull pupil

that did not benefit from

him. There were lots of composers who profited from his advice: John Purser, John Maxwell Geddes, Wilma Paterson, Shaun Dillon, William Sweeney, and Rory Boyle.

Boyle recalls that Spedding could not elicit one word out

of one student. This made the lessons deadly dull, but, as he recalls: ''Frank came up with the solution of answering his own questions with undiluted enthusiasm, thus passing the time with a relentless monologue which at least kept him entertained for the duration.''

Bill Sweeney remembers the gentleness of his criticism. ''He would make what seemed a fairly bland comment, but one which stuck in your mind; and maybe a day or so later the penny would drop . . . So he left you without any sense that you were being criticised as a person. It's a teaching technique which is hard to live up to.'' The same Sweeney's attempt at a 12-note harmonisation of the chorale-tune Jesu Meine Freude gained the mildly acidic comment: ''More like Sigmund meine Freud.''

His lectures on music history from 1750 to 1950 reflected

his own enthusiasms: lots on Haydn, Mozart, late Beethoven, Liszt, Kurt Weill, and Schoenberg - but Brahms was covered in 25 minutes flat. He loathed Messiaen. As an examiner, from entrance exam to final diploma, he was somewhat frightening because one knew just how testing his standards were. It was only once one joined him on these daunting panels that one realised how much he was rooting for the student or looking for the positive when the rest

of us were negative: ''Amid assorted squawks and gasps there was the occasional contact with the printed notes.''

John Langdon reminded

me that Spedding was devoid of musical snobbery in a way which only those with an

encyclopedic knowledge of

the repertoire seem to manage. After a performance of The Pipes of Pan are Calling by a young singer, Langdon recalls him leaning back and musing appreciatively: ''Ah

yes - Monckton at his very finest. So much more enjoyable than Schoenberg!''

Spedding was a founder-member, vice-president, and finally president of the RSAMD staff association before promotion to high office forced him to decline these positions (though he remained a member). He frequently had to give speeches when a member of staff retired and these were invariably

hilarious, sometimes nearly libellous: ''It is difficult to speak about someone who is genuinely nice, decent and honest (he meant boring), which is why it is going to be so much easier for whoever is speaking for Jock Scott (the retiring secretary).''

In retirement, he continued to compose, go to the theatre (''must get up to the Citz to see Glenda'', ''marvellous Idomeneo at Glyndebourne''), kept in touch with old colleagues about all sorts of things, and in 1996/97 collaborated with Grace Matchett in writing the handsome book recording the first 150 years of the RSAMD. So we still saw a lot of him more than a dozen years after his departure from the academy.

We shall remember an awful lot more than I have been able to record.

His music guarantees a significant memory but his wit will continue to brighten particularly heavy days: spedding zig-zagging repeatedly across Loch Fyne in Jack Henderson's boat in front of departing submarines; Spedding creosoting Miles Coverdale's endless fencing in Buchlyvie and finally defac-

ing the shed with the words ''Mon Repos''; Spedding discreetly kicking a set of orchestral parts off the fifth floor of the old building so that they fluttered down to the fourth.

I said he was a private man. The final surprise came at his funeral service in Nottingham. It transpired that he had been organist and choirmaster in his parish church there for some 10 years until his final illness and had been a fully communicant member of the Church of England. This was news to all of us at the RSAMD and explained his affectionate regard for the sturdy English hymn-tune which had per-meated much of his teaching.

Frank Donald Spedding, DMus, ARCM, FRSAMD; born August 21, 1929, died October 11, 2001.