Eric Sams (1926-2004)

Code-breaker, civil servant, musicologist and Shakespeare scholar

By Martin Anderson

Eric Sams, musicologist, cryptologist and Shakespeare scholar: born London 3 May 1926; married 1952 Enid Tidmarsh (died 2002; two sons); died London 13 September 2004.

It is rare to find someone who is a leading scholar in two different disciplines, rarer yet that he should pursue both in his spare time, after a nine-to-five office job - after a spell as an army code-breaker, too. And even more unusual to be able to combine all three interests in a body of writing that becomes required reading in both fields. But then Eric Sams, musicologist, cryptologist and Shakespeare scholar, was no ordinary man.


Eric Sams

by Edward Greenfield

Eric Sams, who has died at the age of 78, was exceptional both as a musicologist, specialising in German Lieder, and as a Shakespeare scholar. What related those two distinct studies was his acute gift of analysis, drawing on his voluminous memory for detail.


The Application of Thought to Musicology

By Erik Battaglia

The importance of the subject of these few words, which are dedicated to the musicological contributions of the late Eric Sams, warrants this paraphrase of the title of a famous essay by A.E.Housman. Sams in fact considered Housman to be his mentor and succeeded to his intellectual legacy even though their fields of pursuit were different.