Brian Neal owns a Blüthner Grand Piano which was formerly the proud possession of the composer Lambert Williamson. Before that it was the property of Victor Hely Hutchinson – probably during World War 2 around the time when he was Head of Music at the BBC.
Robert Walton recently discovered that Philip Buchel (co-composer with Robert Farnon of Jockey on the Carousel and Winter Jasmine (featured on the new "Showcase for Soloists" CD) played alto sax with Spike Hughes’s DeccaDents. Hughes himself was a jazz bassist and arranger, and another notable member of the same group was trumpeter Max Goldberg. Philip Buchel was also a talented tap-dancer; he and his wife Betty choreographed several British musicals, including "Spring in Park Lane" and "Maytime in Mayfair".
RFS member Johnny McLain is still succeeding in getting his new works published. Recent settings to poems include Mamble by John Drinkwater (1882-1937); Adlestrop by Edward Thomas (1878-1917); and I Came To Oxford by Gerald Gould (1885-1936). These pieces are being published by Westerleigh Publications (based in Devon) under the collective title ‘Three Places in Old England’. If any readers would like more information about Johnny’s music, they are welcome to write to him at: 42 Osidge Lane, Southgate, London, N14 5JG.
Towards the end of this year Sigmund Groven will be releasing a new CD of harmonica music, in which he is accompanied by the Norwegian Radio Orchestra Conducted by John Wilson. We look forward to giving you more details in a future issue.
Charles Prior heard On a Spring Note by Sidney Torch on a US radio commercial for Walgreens (a drugstore chain) last year. He also spotted Champagne March in a documentary about Cedar Point, an Ohio amusement park.
Frank Comstock keeps an eye on the jazz column in a local California paper The Orange County Register. When Billy May died, Steve Eddy wrote that he was the last of Sinatra’s arrangers. David Ades sent him an e-mail, which resulted in the following note a few weeks later: "Who says the Register doesn’t cross the ocean? The Robert Farnon Society’s David Ades gently took me to task (as only Brits can do) for saying in a Billy May obit that he was ‘the last surviving member of Frank Sinatra’s exclusive club of musical arrangers’. Ades rightfully pointed out that Farnon is still with us and active at age 86. And, while they weren’t as associated with Sinatra as May, Nelson Riddle and some others, you can add at least a couple of others who penned charts for Blue Eyes, and are still alive and kicking – Neal Hefti and Quincy Jones."
Franck Leprince has been keeping very busy as a professional violinist since he left the Army. This April he played at a Wigmore Hall concert as a member of ‘Ensemble – Inconstantes’ under the baton of Alan Danson, which featured the violinist Rafal Zambrzycki-Payne (former BBC Young Musician of the Year, and also BBC Radio-2 Young Musician 2000), and the soprano Hasmik Papian. Franck tells us that he gets little chance to play light music these days, although he is involved with a group of four musicians including the fine pianist and RFS member Elaine Korman, who has recently retired from the English National Opera. They perform "An Evening of Popular Classics" about once a month at various venues in the South West of England, and their repertoire includes pieces from the 1920s and 1930s – and even the 1950s!
From time to time we are asked about certain ‘big names’ in the music world, who have very little written about them on the internet. Often it is virtually impossible to discover what they are doing and if, in fact, they are still active musically. Such a ‘name’ is Tutti Camarata, so we were pleased to find a recent piece about him in Encore, that interesting monthly magazine aimed at professionals in the theatre. Recently Camarata received a Disney Legend Award from Walt Disney’s son. It will be remembered that Camarata first came to our attention in England in the 1940s when he was engaged by J. Arthur Rank to work on the musical "London Town" which featured the Ted Heath Orchestra and many leading British stars of the time. The film flopped, but Camarata stayed behind in England to work at Decca and set up London Records in the USA. Eventually he returned to the USA, and joined Disney, making a success of their record label. Today, with his son Paul, he runs Sunset Sound Studios in Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, and is still very active despite reaching 90 years of age. Some of his recordings from over 50 years ago are starting to appear in the new Guild Light Music series of CDs.
Don’t forget that our website is one of the facilities offered to you as a member of the RFS. You are encouraged to visit us regularly at www.rfsoc.org.uk and specifically we recommend you to check the Latest News section of the RFS Information page to see if there are any important announcements.
If you are on the internet, do visit the ‘Links’ page on our website regularly. This is continually being updated by Chris Landor, and just recently he has come across some very interesting places for you to visit.
Hans-Andreas Winkler has set up an internet website in honour of his late father, the German composer Gerhard Winkler (1906-1977). Although presently only in German, it is well worth a visit and you can hear two recordings of one of his best-known songs "Capri-Fischer". Of course his biggest international success was "Answer Me". www.capri-fischer.de
Alan Nuttall and the Hale Light Orchestra presented ‘A Springtime Festival of Light Orchestral Music’ in Altrincham, Cheshire on 28 March reports David Mardon. The concert included many familiar favourites such as In Party Mood (Jack Strachey), Shortcake Walk (Sidney Torch), Puffin’ Billy(Edward White) and Ronald Hanmer’s arrangement of Mexican Hat Dance.
Ray Clark has alerted us to some recent interesting documentaries on video from Beulah and other companies. There are also plans for some classic British Transport Films shorts to appear on DVD later this year. Ray points out that the quality on DVD is often better than on video, so it may be worth while waiting for forthcoming DVD releases in some cases. Here are some recent releases that Ray recommends:
Capital Transport [Yesterday’s Britain] No. 31 – Beulah YB31 (send for their catalogue - Beulah, 66 Rochester Way, Crowborough, East Sussex, TN6 2DU); Holidays on Wheels – promotional films from the 1950s for Wallace Arnold coaches (telephone orders on 01624 640000); Look At Life – The 1960s, another 6 films from this well remembered Rank Organisation cinema series available on video and DVD (Video 125, PO Box 81, Ascot, SL5 9TC – tel. 01344 628565); Those Were The Days – Pathe Newsreels from various decades, issued on both video and DVD (widely available through retailers); Northumberland in 1953 – a Northern Heritage production featuring a BTF film on rural life including footage not included in the original film (order by Freephone 0800 716959). All these films make full use of contemporary mood music from the likes of Chappell, Boosey & Hawkes etc.
The clarinettist, saxophonist and singer Gerry Ozarow, born on 18 December 1922, died on 1 February 2004 writes Sunil Hiranandani. In a Nostalgia article ‘Life Was Funny Sometimes’ Gerry described himself as the poor man’s Charlie Ventura or, on a good night, the poor man’s Illinois Jacquet. He remembered doing a version of Roses of Picardy which turned into Roses of Jeopardywhen the trumpeter’s mute dropped out! He recalled one musician doing an impression of the bandleader, at which the bandleader walked in and said: "this is my impression of you getting the sack!" His early career found him in the bands of Billy Merrin, Billy Bevan and Lou Preager, playing in locations like the Cumberland Hotel, where Joan Collins was waiting on tables.
■ Doris Day has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honour that the USA can bestow upon its citizens. Doris is one of 12 people to receive the award, which was announced on 22 June. But her fear of flying prevented her from accepting the award personally from the President in Washington. She told the Associated Press: "I am deeply grateful to the President and to my country, but I won’t fly." Doris blames her fear of flying on too many overseas trips with Bob Hope entertaining U.S. troops. "Bob would fly even if a cyclone was coming," she recalled. "I saw him on his knees many a time. In fact we were all on our knees. We flew in snowstorms to get to the next show. When we hit the ground I said ‘never again’." The Medal of Freedom was established by President Truman in 1945 to recognize civilians for their World War II service. It was reinstated by President Kennedy in 1963 to honour distinguished service in a range of fields, including the arts, sports, business and science. Doris is not a newcomer to awards: she won an Oscar nomination for "Pillow Talk" and made several gold records. She was named the No. 1 box office star four times. She has also been recognized for founding the Doris Day Animal Foundation, and all her fellow RFS members around the world will be delighted at this news.
■ RFS member John Bladon wonders if some fellow members might be interested in Frantisek Kmoch (1848-1912), whose Society can be found on a website: www.kmochsoc.co.uk John tells us that the Kmoch Society aims to promote music played by Central European military and civilian wind bands, with some overlap into light orchestral music from the same area. Marches, polkas and waltzes form the basis of this repertoire, with emphasis on pieces mainly written in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It is tuneful music, just like the best British light music, but different in style and performance.
■ David Mardon has sent a recent programme for the Hale Light Orchestra’s concert on 6 July. Archibad Joyce’s The Brighton Hike opened the show, followed by Eric Coates’ Summer Days Suite. Other notable pieces included Butterflies in the Rain (Sherman Myers), English Folk Songs Suite(Ralph Vaughan Williams) and Frederic Curzon’s Robin Hood Suite. It is good to know that performances of light music are still taking place – if you can find them!
■ David Mardon has also sent in some useful information about Charles Williams and early Chappell 78s. Although he did write Girls In Grey in 1943, Chappells didn’t record it until 1944. There was quite a gap between the move from EMI at C192, and Levy’s Sound Studios taking over at C193. In fact C200 was the first one recorded by Levy’s. This helps to explain why so many of Charles Williams’ compositions were ‘moth-balled’ or ‘stockpiled’ between C193 and C205.
■ Mark Fox reports that Tony Bennett completed his upcoming album "The Art of Excellence 2" at Bennett Studios, Englewood, New Jersey at the beginning of June. Conducting honours for the 47-piece orchestra were shared by Johnny Mandel, Jorge Calandrelli and Lee Musiker. The CD is scheduled to be released in the USA in September, with UK release following on 8 November.
■ Matthew Curtis tells us that a second CD of his orchestral music should be released by Campion Records this autumn. Once again the Royal Ballet Sinfonia is conducted by Gavin Sutherland, and production has been in the capable hands of Philip Lane. There were five sessions in total: one in February at Pheonix Sound (the old CTS) in Wembley, and four more at the beginning of July at Whitfield Street studios in central London. For two of the sessions Matthew enjoyed the rare luxury of enlarged strings, which he says makes a big difference to the effect of the more symphonic works. The titles are: Ring In The New, Romanza, Little Dance Suite, Irish Lullaby, Graduation Day, Autumn Song, Sinfonietta and Bon Voyage! An extra 17 minutes of music was also recorded towards a possible third CD, so Matthew’s growing band of admirers have much to look forward to in the future. RFS members had the pleasure of meeting Matthew at the Bonnington Hotel in April.
■ Once again James Beyer and the Edinburgh Light Orchestra entertained an almost capacity audience at The Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh in their recent concert on Saturday 29 May. As usual, the varied programme mixed some well-known classics with lighter pieces, the latter including Up With The Curtain (Jack Strachey), Prunella (Leslie Bridgewater), film music from "Goodbye Mr Chips"(Richard addinsell, reconstructed by Philip Lane), The Laughing Violin (Kai Mortensen), The Toy Trumpet (Raymond Scott) and Leroy Anderson Favourites. Another selection which must have been great fun was "Looney Toons Overture" based on the music from the famous Warner Bros. cartoons. The ELO’s next concert will be on 6 November, and if you want further information just drop a line to: James Beyer, 4 St John’s Gardens, Edinburgh, EH12 6NT. The Edinburgh Palm Court Orchestraholds its musical afternoons on Sundays, when it is directed by David Lyle. The next concert is on 26 September, commencing at 2.30pm.
■ London’s Royal Festival Hall is now undergoing a major refurbishment, involving the construction of an extension building alongside the Hungerford Terrace to provide space for future administrative needs, with shops and catering facilities at terrace level. The foyers and auditorium are due to close in June 2005, and the major renovation of the hall should finish at the end of 2006. The Royal Festival Hall will reopen in January 2007.
■ Robin King’s feature in our last issue, where he mentioned organist Lew Williams (who lives near Angela Morley) has produced some interesting correspondence. Lew has rightly taken your Editor to task over his description of the theatre organs played by Sidney Torch as ‘electronic’, and he has also provided some information about several of these famous instruments from the pre-war days. Lew writes: I know it's difficult to keep track of all the various bits of information from that era, and given the amount of hyperbole that was often put into publicity in those days, it's not hard to be confused. In the booklet notes to the "All Strings and Fancy Free" CD on Living Era, there is reference to the Gaumont State, Kilburn as "......the largest cinema organ in England." I believe that the Gaumont was, perhaps, at 4,000 seats, the largest cinema in the UK. However, the organ itself consisted of some 16 ranks (sets) of pipes. The Trocadero, Elephant & Castle, had the largest Wurlitzer organ in Europe (at 21 ranks), but the largest cinema organ in all of Europe was the Regal, Marble Arch, with a total of 36 ranks. As to the construction dates, etc., of the various cinemas, the Regal, Marble Arch opened in November 1928, Regal, Edmonton in 1934, and Gaumont, Kilburn in 1937. As none of the organs were altered or added to after opening, Marble Arch leads the pack as to sheer size. Sadly, it's been rotting away in a barn in Cornwall since being removed from the cinema in 1964, and will probably never play again. The Edmonton organ has been removed to the Memorial Hall at Barry, in Wales. The Kilburn instrument is the only remaining original cinema organ in the London area. Though Torch steadfastly refused to talk to anyone about his organ days during his later years, I do have a 3-part interview with him that was published in 1972 in the American journal "Theatre Organ," on the occasion of the re-release of a double LP or his organ tracks. Torch's orchestral pianist, William Davies, told me a few interesting bits about Torch: how he learned Greek after his retirement from conducting so he could read the classics in the original language, and how WD tricked ST into playing the organ during an orchestral rehearsal for a sound check, much to Torch's annoyance. Editor: excerpts from that rare Sidney Torch interview will appear in ‘Journal Into Melody’ next year.
■ We are very pleased to report that the music of Ron Goodwin is not being forgotten. In November, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra conducted by Robin Stapleton performed three concerts in Weymouth, Swindon and Bournemouth under the title MY KIND OF MUSIC - A Celebration of the life and Music of Ron Goodwin. Unfortunately the news of these concerts did not reach us until early September, so we could not give details in our last magazine. However full information was posted in the "Latest News" section of our website, so we hope that many members will have seen it there. Perhaps this is an appropriate time to remind those of you who have access to the internet that late news items such as this can been seen on our website. Please look at our "Latest News" from time to time. We have been told that some members have made our website their ‘home page’ so that it serves as a regular reminder to them!
■ Klaus Teubig used to work in the German branch of Francis, Day & Hunter. He has fond memories of the music of Les Reed, and he also offers the following cameo: the composer ‘Montague’ responsible for the early Matt Monro recording You’re The One Of My Hit Parade was actually a pseudonym for Sir Frederick Day, son of the founder of FDH. He wrote it in the 1920s for his wife Doris, then a Tiller Girl. When they married she became a true English ‘Doris Day’!
Debbie Wiseman will be sharing conducting honours with Owain Arwel Hughes at the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s Christ Concert on Wednesday 15 December at Fairfield Hall, Croydon – box office 020 8688 9291.
Tony Bennett’s only UK appearance this year will be at London’s Royal Festival Hall on Monday 6 December. By the time you read this, unfortunately it will be far too late to get any tickets!
Some vintage Anne Shelton recordings have been discovered by Philip Farlow. A new CD features a BBC/AEFP broadcast where she is guest vocalist with the Glenn Miller AEF Band, and there are some other rare tracks. Details from Anne’s niece – Kelly Richards, PO Box 160, Hailsham, East Sussex, BN27 4YF, England – or visit the website www.anne-shelton.co.uk The CD costs £12.04, including postage.
Since writing his review of the Frank Sinatra ‘Platinum Collection’ (see ‘Keeping Track’), your Editor has read in the Sinatra Music Society magazine that the uncredited writer of the excellent booklet notes is Ken Barnes.
The World Soundtrack Awards were announced at the 31st Flanders International Film Festival in Bijloke, Ghent, on 9th October. Gabriel Yared received two of the most prestigious awards: Soundtrack Composer of the Year for Cold Mountain and Best Original Soundtrack of the Year forCold Mountain also. The latter movie was awarded with a third prize: Best Original Song Written for Film with the song ‘You will be my Ain True Love written by Sting and performed by Alison Krauss. The Public Choice Award went to John Williams for the Soundtrack of Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban, while the Discovery of the Year was given to Santaollala Gustavo for 21 Grams. Sir George Martin gave a Lifetime Achievement Award that recognised the talent of Alan and Marilyn Bergman, while the Prize for the Best Young Belgian Composer was taken by Steven Prengels for the soundtrack he wrote for Le Réveil Tam-Tam a silent short.
In case you are still searching for an amusing CD to fill a Christmas stocking, can we remind you about the new 2-CD collection of music and dialogue from the "Carry On" films – Silva Screen SILCD1168. Jeff Hall mentions it in his ‘Film Music Bulletin’, but he covers so much ground in his column that you may have missed it! The ASV CD ‘The Carry On Album’ WHL 2119 has been a big seller, and we are pleased to give advance notice that a sequel by the same team is due to come out soon – "What A Carry On!" with the Royal Ballet Sinfonia conducted by Gavin Sutherland on Vocalion Digital CDSA6810. All these CDs are available from the RFS Record Service, although the Vocalion CD may be an early 2005 release.
In the summer of 2003 John Wilson spent 12 days at EMI’s Abbey Road studios recreating the songs of Bobby Darin for a film musical on his life. The late singer is portrayed on screen by Kevin Spacey, who incredibly did all the vocals himself. Your Editor can remember John saying how impressed he was with the actor’s dedication to this project, and the end results are simply amazing. With the film about to be released, Spacey was interviewed by the London newspaper Observer in October, and it was good to see him acknowledge John Wilson’s important contribution to the project. Kevin Spacey said: "The most rewarding 12 days I have ever spent were in the Abbey Road studio with a 48-piece orchestra laying down all the tracks before we started shooting with Phil Ramone, my music producer, and John Wilson, my musical director. These genius guys completely understood how to capture the sound and spirit of Bobby."
Major Archive Release from Boosey & Hawkes
Boosey Media have just embarked upon a major project to place all of their 78s on CDs. The first phase involves the BH1900 series from the 1930s, and we will give full details in a special feature in our next issue. The CDs will be available through the RFS Record Service.
■ Belated congratulations to Don Lusher, who was made an OBE in the New Year Honours. The Editor congratulated DON LUSHER on his OBE, on behalf of Robert Farnon and all RFS members. This is his reply:
Dear David & members of the Robert Farnon Society,
Thank you very much for your congratulatory message on my being awarded the OBE. I am very proud to have received it and especially "for services to the music industry" and not just for being a trombone player or a bandleader. For fifty-five years I have been very happy and privileged to work in the music business and I trust that during that time I have made some contribution to it. Diana has pointed out that's seventy-three years practising the trombone and still only on Book Two Tune a Day! When I received the news in November, Diana explained to me just how many people had worked hard in presenting their request for me to have an award. This started, I believe, in late 1996! After the New Year's Honours List came out, we learnt that many other people had also been trying. I am very grateful to all those people without whom I would not have been awarded anything! Often one receives an award on retirement, now this, I hope, is not so in my case. I do hope to go on working in my various capacities for some time to come. It is always a tremendous privilege to work for Bob. DON LUSHER, Cheam, ENGLAND.
■ Ken Wilkins sent us a cutting from his local paper, the Leamington Courier, which reported the death of Mrs. Winifred German, who was married to Arthur German, nephew of the famous composerSir Edward German. Arthur had inherited his uncle’s original scores including the light operasMerrie England and Tom Jones. Following her husband’s death, Winifred continued to actively promote Sir Edward’s music. She died in February aged 90, and had always been very active in local music circles.
■ Johnny McLain tells us that Bardic Edition has recently published his Psalm – Johnny’s setting ofThe Lord is my Shepherd. It started life as a tribute to the late Anthony Fones (1919-1997), the renowned BBC arranger, who became a close friend of Johnny towards the end of his life.
■ The world of ballet has discovered Light Music! On 8 & 9 July the English National Ballet will be including a new work Melody on the Move in its season at Sadler’s Wells. As well as the famous Clive Richardson piece of the same name, this new work by Michael Corder will include Robert Farnon’s Peanut Polka and Eric Coates’ Knightsbridge March. This work will also be included as part of the Autumn Tour. Sadler’s Wells box office: 020 7863 8000.
■ In this issue’s ‘Keeping Track’ we review a new CD of Bob Hope recordings, in tribute to his 100thbirthday on 29 May. If he had lived, Bob’s long-time friend and comedy partner in many films Bing Crosby would also have celebrated his centenary a few weeks earlier – on 3 May. In Tune magazine (May issue) included an interesting article by Ken Barnes who worked closely with Bing in the 1970s.
■ At long last it seems as though our dream of a new Charles Williams CD will soon become reality. The recording sessions took place last February, and we hope to have some firm news regarding a release date in our next issue.
■ Ray Clark recommends a recent addition to the ‘Yesterday’s Britain’ video series. YB29 features five films relating to the building of London’s Victoria Line, on which work began in the autumn of 1962. UK readers can get this video for £12.95 from The Signal Box, 1 Albion Street, Anstey, Leics, LE7 7DD. Ray also informs us that there is a society dedicated to the memory of the 1951 Festival of Britain. For details write to: The Membership Secretary, FoB Society, 23 Langton Avenue, East Ham, London, E6 6AN.
■ Alan Bunting had a message from a friend in Sweden advising him that the Robert FarnonNaxos CD filled 25 minutes on their Music Channel on 10 March.
■ Mark Fox (of the International Tony Bennett Appreciation Society) informs us that Tony will be appearing on 29 June at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham; 3 & 4 July at The Royal Albert Hall, London; 6 July at George Square in Glasgow; and 7 July at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester.
■ Brian Neale was planning to come to our recent London meeting, but the Queen asked him to sing for her at Windsor Castle instead. Brian often sings in the chapel at Windsor, and the Queen obviously didn’t realise that the RFS was meeting on the same day!
■ The name Associated-Rediffusion will conjure up pleasant memories for many British readers. Ex-BBC producer Graham Pass is now working with them on television musical documentaries, and you are encouraged to keep an eye on Radio Times in the coming months for a feature on Artie Shaw – possibly on BBC Four.
■ Alan Bunting was recently involved in the BBC Television programme "Cash In The Attic". A film crew visited Alan at his home in Stirling where he was transferring some old 78s to a CD for an elderly lady who wanted to hear them again. We don’t know if the programme will have been seen by the time you read this issue, but this series has been repeated in the past so it may be worth checking Radio Times.
■ Robin King is interested in the pianist Dick Katz who was a member of the Ray Ellington Quartet back in the 1950s. There was a Nixa LP "Kool for Katz" in 1959, but Robin has been unable to discover much more about his career. If any readers can tell us more about Dick Katz, please contact the Editor.
■ John Wilson was featured on the cover of the April/May issue of Crescendo & Jazz Music. Colour photos inside pictured John rehearsing with his orchestra at the Royal College of Music for the RFH concert on 22 March. All the musicians were mentioned by name, which is a very nice touch.
■ Eric White presented an excellent tribute to Ron Goodwin on BBC Radio Norfolk, which was broadcast on Easter Monday, 21 April. His special guest was Cy Payne, who received a lot of encouragement and practical help from Ron during the formative years of his own career.
■ Forrest Patten in April placed "Holiday Spirit" by Clive Richardson for a Hershey’s Kisses national TV spot in the USA. Perhaps some of our American readers noticed it.
■ Just as our last issue was reaching our members, British Pathe became part of the ITN Archive. This meant that the information on the centre pages of JIM 155 regarding the film "This is London" no longer applied, and we are sorry that some of you were disappointed at being unable to obtain this film. Hopefully the situation will eventually be clarified, so that the vast British Pathe archive will become available to private individuals once again. If you are on the internet, we suggest you visitwww.itnarchive.com for the latest news.
■ It’s good to know that Ronald Corp is planning a possible 5th volume of British Light Music Classicsfor Hyperion. No more details at present, except that one of the titles could be Ray Martin’s "Waltzing Bugle Boy".
■ The Edinburgh Light Orchestra Conducted by James Beyer will be giving its next concert at The Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, on Saturday 8 November. A recent concert on 24 May opened (as usual) with Robert Farnon’s Journey Into Melody, followed by the works of Duke Ellington, Victor Schertzinger, Fred Hartley, Frederick Loewe, Howard Shore and many others. These concerts are always very popular, and you are advised to book early (telephone 0131 668 2019). The Edinburgh Palm Court Orchestra Directed by David Lyle continues with its Sunday afternoon concerts, the next one on 28 September. To get on the mailing list for the ELO, send your name and address to: James Beyer, 4 St John’s Gardens, Edinburgh, EH12 6NT.
■ Peter Appleyard celebrated his 75th birthday in August (reports Norman Leisk). He told the Toronto Star: "I’m 75 with the body of a 74-year old and the mind of a 20 year-old!" He’s known in his adopted country, Canada, as the ‘affable vibraphone swing king’, and he was one of the guests at the 1997 Ottawa concerts in honour of Robert Farnon’s 80th birthday. Peter still hopes that he can soon finalise arrangements for the sessions to record the charts which Robert Farnon prepared for him a little while ago. Around 30 musicians will be required, which involves a considerable financial commitment.
■ Ron Shillingford reports that everything went well at the Memorial Service to Ron Goodwin at Douai Abbey on 24 June. "Ron arranged splendid weather for the occasion. Douai Abbey is a beautiful place and was a wonderful setting" says Ron.
■ Brian Kay’s Light Programme is moving from Sundays to Thursdays on BBC Radio 3. The final Sunday edition will be on 14 September at 4.00pm as usual, to be followed by the next Brian Kay’s Light Programme on Thursday 18 September – also at 4.00pm. Brian’s new Sunday afternoon programme at 4.00pm is to be called "3 for all" and will run for an hour and three quarters every week. We are sure that he will be happy to get requests from his previously loyal Sunday listeners, so if you would like to have a special piece of music played you should write to Brian at: BBC Wales, Cardiff, CF5 2YQ, or send an e-mail to: Brian is still presenting Melodies for You on Radio 2 on Sunday evenings at 7.00 pm until Christmas, and hopefully beyond (subject to the new BBC Radio-2 Controller!).
■ Make sure that you don’t miss The Last Night of the Proms on Saturday 13 September. John Wilson is involved in arranging some of the music that will be performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
■ Bob Hope died from pneumonia on Sunday 27 July aged 100 at his home in Toluca Lake, Los Angeles, California. In a long and distinguished career, the London-born comedian became one of the most famous entertainers in the world, and his death received massive coverage around the globe. It was said that the filing cabinets at his home on North Hollywood contained more than seven million gags. In 1962 his career crossed paths with Robert Farnon when the final ‘Road’ movie "The Road to Hong Kong" was filmed in Britain. Farnon was musical director, and Hope and Crosby’s co-star was Joan Collins, with a guest appearance from the original member of the trio, Dorothy Lamour. A soundtrack album featured original recordings from the film, augmented with ‘overdubs’ in the studio to improve the general sound quality. Bob Hope’s most famous record was "Thanks for the Memory" with Shirley Ross, which was featured in his first Hollywood film "The Big Broadcast of 1938". He was awarded an honorary knighthood in 1998 (although British-born, he became an American citizen).
■ Trevor Duncan has been invited to be the Guest of Honour at the RFS London meeting next April (2004), and we are very hopeful that he will be able to attend. There has been a resurgence of public interest in Trevor’s music in recent years, which has been reinforced by the recent New Concert Orchestra CD on Vocalion. We know that his numerous friends and admirers in the Robert Farnon Society would be delighted to meet him next April.
■ John Wilson will be conducting at Symphony Hall in Birmingham on Friday 31 October, together with Gary Williams in the "Legends of Sinatra" show. Compere will be David Jacobs. (Thanks to Pat and John Hicks for this advance information).
■ Weinzweig is honoured at last [reports Pip Wedge]. John Weinzweig, the Dean of Canadian composers, about whom I wrote in JIM 155, was honoured in the year of his ninetieth birthday with a concert at the National Arts Centre on July 22nd. John attended the concert, to hear the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra under Bramwell Tovey play several of John’s favourite pieces, including Aaron Copeland’s Appalachian Spring and the Pulcinella Suite by Stravinsky. The programme also included John’s own Divertimento for Flute and Strings, which won a silver medal at the Olympic Games in London in 1948 (yes, they gave medals for Arts, too, in those days).
■ Who are the keenest visitors to the RFS website? Recent statistics reveal that the top ten countries (in order) are: United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Canada, Japan, The Netherlands, Germany, France, Brazil and New Zealand. 35.3% were from the UK, 26.7% from USA and 0.8% from New Zealand!
■ Charles Job and the Palm Court Orchestra have two concerts pending in British Columbia, Canada, next November, called "Love’s Old Sweet Song" and featuring Kenneth Lavigne, tenor. The dates are: Friday 7 November at 8.00pm Cowichan Theatre, Duncan; and Saturday 8 November at 8.00pm UVic Centre, Victoria, BC. The concerts will feature Edwardian/ Victorian parlour songs such as Because, Macushla and Brown Bird Singing while the orchestra will be playing selections from Ivor Novello’s The Dancing Years plus selections by Ketelbey, Curzon, Alford and Finck. For tickets telephone 250 748-9964.
■ John Rapson conducted Symphony New Brunswick (Canada) on 5 August in performances ofRobert Farnon’s Jumping Bean and Westminster Waltz. Other light music in the same concert included Beachcomber (Clive Richardson), Cumberland Square (Ernest Tomlinson) and March of the Bowmen (Frederic Curzon).
■ We have learned the sad news that Geraldo’s widow, Mrs. Manja Geraldo Lee died at the beginning of July. Music lovers have reason to be very grateful to her for the way in which she kept Geraldo’s music alive. She was also a very generous benefactor in support of performances of the kind of music we all enjoy, and we know that she will be greatly missed by all who came into contact with her.
■ We hope that our British members with access to digital television keep an eye on the schedules for BBC Four. This fairly new TV channel broadcasts some important music programmes, and in July they screened an excellent tribute to Artie Shaw which was largely the work of Russell Davies and former Radio-2 producer Graham Pass. The same team are in the early stages of a similar project involving Robert Farnon.
■ Several RFS members were in the audience for English National Ballet’s "Melody on the Move" in July (see JIM 155 page 95). The attraction was the choice of Light Music, which included the famous Clive Richardson piece which gave the ballet its title, plus Robert Farnon’s Peanut Polka, Trevor Duncan’s Girl from Corsica and High Heels, and Eric Coates’ Knightsbridge March, among others. The press reviews were generally favourable, and it would be nice if this new work became a regular part of the ENB’s repertoire.
■ Judging by some trade publicity we have seen recently, there is already talk of the demise of the CD as we know it. But don’t despair – its place is likely to be taken by DVD. Originally intended mainly as a successor to VHS Video, DVD is now seen as the natural replacement for all existing music and video formats, plus video games and computer information systems. Already DVD has become the most successful consumer electronics product of all time.
■ Not all musicians achieve international fame, but during their lifetime they often give a great deal a pleasure to many people. Such a person was Harold Balaam, a cousin of RFS member John Swinyard who recently told us about him. Harold was born on 14 February 1914, and he learned to play the cinema organ at the Gaumont, Plymouth where he met Fredric Bayco. In 1934 he became Bayco’s assistant at the Dominion, Tottenham Court Road, and played at most of the Gaumont cinemas around London. In 1937 he moved to the Gaumont Palace, Exeter, from where he used to broadcast on the BBC West Region. In World War 2 he served in the Royal Marines, and later in 1953 he was asked by Lt. Col. Vivian Dunn to provide mainly Latin-American music on the Royal Yacht Britannia. Harold died on 9 December 2002.
■ Friday Night is Music Night was first broadcast on 25 September 1953, and the BBC is planning a suitable celebration for its 50th Anniversary. Nothing more was known as we went to press, so we can only advise British members to check the details later this month in Radio Times.
■ Our friends in the International Ray Conniff Fan Club have published what can only be described as a most impressive tribute to Ray Conniff, who died on 12 October 2002 aged 85. ‘S Always Conniffis a Special Memorial Edition of the Club’s Newsletter, with full colour printing on glossy paper covering 68 A4 pages, which features numerous tributes from friends and members, and reports of his passing in various publications around the world. The compilation must have been a mammoth task, and it is a credit to everyone who was involved with it. Our own Secretary’s message to Manfred Thönicke is included on page 59.
■ Catherine Ford is archiving the papers of composer Barry Gray (real name Jack Eccles) who wrote the music for Thunderbirds and all those other Gerry Anderson TV puppet shows. Barry did some lyrics for the film "The Noose", which has a music score by Charles Williams.
♫ At the beginning of September John Wilson was in Studio 2 at Abbey Road working on the soundtrack of a major new film biography about Bobby Darin. John tells us that around 35 Darin hits were carefully reconstructed, with Kevin Spacey doing a very creditable job with the vocals. No doubt we will all be able to judge, when the soundtrack CD is eventually released – probably some time next year.
♫ Sunday evenings in Britain always come to a pleasant conclusion with The David Jacobs Collection, starting on BBC Radio-2 at 11.00pm. On 21 September David paid our magazine a very kind compliment, saying that it comes second only to the fine publications by the Bing Crosby Society. In the same show, David played Bob’s recording of When I Fall In Love and If You Are But A Dream featuring Carol Kidd.
♫ The Zomba Group was recently bought by the Bertelsmann Music Group and as a result Zomba Production Music is in the throes of consolidating its libraries with the BMG libraries. This will mean that Chappell, Bruton, Atmosphere, BMG and several others will now form a major presence together in production music circles.
♫ Have you visited the RFS website just recently? It was given a new look towards the end of September, and we hope that you’ll now find it easier to move quickly from one page to another. It is a good idea to make a visit at least once a month to look at the RFS Information page, which carries late news items. Our website address can be found on the inside front cover of each issue ofJournal Into Melody, but if you don’t have your copy handy simply visit a well-known search engine and type in ‘Robert Farnon Society’. It couldn’t be more simple!
♫ Debbie Wiseman will be conducting the London premiere of her new work "Wilde Stories" at London’s Barbican Centre on Saturday 6 December (box office 020 7638 8891). This unique concert (which actually had its first performance in Birmingham on 27 October) will preview the Channel 4 Christmas transmission of these animated films of Oscar Wilde fairy stories, with Debbie conducting the National Symphony Orchestra for the soundtrack live to the projected films.
♫ We were saddened to learn of the death of Robin Boyle on 25 July, at South Rauceby, Lincolnshire, at the age of 76. He was born at Folkestone, Kent, on 27 March 1927, and was a much-loved voice on BBC Radio for many years. Although he had a short period on secondment in the Light Entertainment department as producer, Robin’s lasting love was music, and he was at his best presenting such shows as Night-Ride, Morning Music and Music While You Work, and he was liked and trusted by the professionals, like Cliff Adams of the Adams Singers, or the arranger, composer and conductor Stanley Black. Friday Night is Music Night came his way in the general run of programmes to be presented, in the 1950s. It was never meant to have just one announcer; indeed, most Light Programme/ Radio 2 staff announcers had a stab at it at one time or another: Philip Slessor (the original presenter), Jimmy Kingsbury, the majestic Frank Phillips, Eugene Fraser, John Marsh, James Alexander Gordon (when he wasn't reading the football results). But after a while, sometime in the 1970s, Boyle seemed to fall naturally into the job and carried on through the 1980s until he retired in 1987 at the statutory BBC age of 60. That, however, seemed to make little or no difference and he found that the producers would summon him as usual through the 1990s, although now as a freelance, and for a rather better fee. Robin Boyle was a good friend of the Robert Farnon Society, and members had the great pleasure of meeting him at one of our London recitals.
♫ We have recently learned that a Japanese record dealer is offering to sell BMG Italian Production Music CDs on his website for £80 each. These same CDs are available to members of the Robert Farnon Society for just £9 each. For more information turn to Keeping Track in this issue.
♫ We are sorry to report the death of Edward Cole. Some members may recall meeting him at our London recitals, including the special celebrations in 1997 for Robert Farnon’s 80th birthday. Edward was for some years a news reader and continuity announcer with the BBC. He died on 6 June aged 63.
Our friends in The Light Music Society now have their own website, so do pay them a visit:www.lightmusicsociety.com You can also reach them through the ‘Links’ page on our own website.
"Journal Into Melody’s" own Gossip Column
In JIM 148 (page 75) Paul Clatworthy gave a warm welcome to the Vic Lewis CD "With Love to Gerry". We are very pleased to report that this album has been nominated for a Grammy in the Small Group section, and send our warmest congratulations to Vic who is, of course, a member of our Society.
♫Sometimes insomniacs hear better music on the radio than those of us who like to be tucked up before 11.00pm. Sunil Hiranandani enjoys record programmes introduced by Keith Skues, who broadcasts from the East Anglia region of England. Every night at 20 minutes past midnight he plays 20 minutes of music by one particular artist, and Robert Farnon was featured last October 20th. Sunil tells us that Keith has also had Bob as his ‘orchestra of the week’. Until 2000 Keith Skues was a Squadron Leader in the RAF Reserves. He is a Freeman of the City of London, and was in the film "Sunday, Bloody Sunday". His nickname is ‘cardboard shoes’, from his days at the British Forces Broadcasting Service when he was supposed to be anonymous. He was about to say his name when the management came in, so that was the soubriquet he chose. Among his other achievements, Keith has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.
♫Ray Clark has been checking out some new Videos and DVDs which might be of interest to readers. From 1959 until well into the 1980s the Central Office of Information produced a series of short Public Information Films designed to inform and amuse us all. Do you remember Charley, the safety-conscious ginger moggy? He’s here again in Volume 1 (catalogue number 7951095) of a collection of 73 animated classics released by Network Video. Volume 2 (cat. No. 7951109) comes from the same source, but features live action with many famous personalities of the 1970s – even the Dad’s Army platoon! These videos cost £10.99 each, and can be ordered through any MVC Entertainment video shop, or direct from: Network Video, 3 Wells Place, Redhill, Surrey, RH1 3DR – telephone 01737 646725. (Both videos are also issued together on one DVD for £14.99 – 7952095). There are also two new releases in the ‘Yesterday’s Britain’ series. "A Tonic To The Nation" (YB26) contains three films commissioned for the Festival of Britain in 1951. "Aspects of London Transport" (YB27) also features shorts form the 1950s. These two videos are available from: The Signal Box, 1 Albion Street, Anstey, Leicester, LE7 7DD.
♫As we mentioned briefly in our last issue, Desmond Carrington celebrated 20 years of his BBC Radio-2 "All Time Greats" programme last October. To mark the event, Graham Clarke produced an etching called "The Cat’s Whiskers" showing Desmond and his producer David Aylott broadcasting in the studio at Desmond’s Scottish home, surrounded by a wonderful collection of artefacts, including a tin of Columbia Loud Tone steel needles! Jumping Bean was honoured and delighted to receive one of the cards reproducing the etching, with a friendly greeting inside from Desmond and David. Sunil Hiranandani reminds us of an interview that Desmond gave last year to Mike Alexander of the Radio Magazine: "Six years ago I moved to Scotland, and would regularly take my own equipment into a tiny studio at BBC Edinburgh to do the show with a producer coming up from London. In 1995 Radio-2 decided to advertise their first batch of independent productions; six months later I was the successful bidder for the ‘All Time Greats’ contract." Desmond went on to explain that the first shows were done in the front room at his house, while a special studio was being built in the barn. Today his shows reach a world-wide audience, via the Internet, and there is a webcam showing him actually broadcasting.
♫We have previously mentioned famous musicians who achieve success in several different spheres of show business. Alan Watts wishes to add Frank De Vol to the list, after seeing the sleeve notes of his Italian Romance LP. It seems that Frank definitely qualifies as singer / arranger / composer / actor / comedian, mainly through his reputation for comedy on the Rosemary Clooney TV show. He also acted the funny man with Dinah Shore and George Gobel.
♫Last autumn David Mellor devoted his 2-hour Sunday show on Classic FM to Light Music on two occasions, after a very positive response to the first ‘toe in the water’ exercise in September. First time round he concentrated mainly on Ronald Corp’s Hyperion CDs, but in his follow-up programme he cast the net much wider. It does seem that Light Music is gradually becoming more acceptable to broadcasters, even though we still get the impression that it is included in schedules rather grudgingly. The big problem in Britain centres around Radio-2. It is clear that the BBC no longer regards this service as a middle-of-the road station, so maybe we should be trying to persuade them to start up Radio-6. This could cater for the many millions of 50-plus listeners who no longer have a national network which plays the kind of music they would like to hear. We know that many in this category no longer bother to switch on, except for very occasional evening and weekend shows. The BBC must be reminded that it is a public service broadcaster. It has a duty to provide radio which is not available from other sources. There are numerous ‘Radio-2 sound-alikes’ being broadcast all over the place by the commercial stations, and even the BBC’s own local radio services seem to be in competition with Radio-2.
♫Apart from Robert Farnon, another famous composer who made his home in the Channel Islands was Eric Spear. Sunil Hiranandani reminds us that he wrote the ‘Coronation Street’ theme, although before that he had composed the music for the early BBC TV soap ‘The Grove Family’. Why was the name chosen? Well, the programmes came live from the BBC’s Lime Grove studios in London.
♫We all know that Arthur Wood composed Barwick Green, which has gained musical immortality through its use as the signature tune for BBC Radio’s "The Archers". But did you know that Arthur had an actress daughter? Thanks to Sunil Hiranandani, we can reveal that she is Peggy Ann Wood, who played the much put-upon Vera Poling in Simon Brett’s "After Henry".
♫Other snippets from Sunil tell us that the composer of the 1958 hit "It’s All In The Game" eventually went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize (not for that song, we hasten to add!). His name: Charles Gates Dawes, and he wrote the song while still a student.
♫Here are some more British Transport videos advised to us by Ray Clark. Volume 6 "Famous Friends" (BFIV116) includes classics such as John Betjeman Goes by Train, Journey Into History andThe England of Elizabeth plus 4 more. Volume 7 "Civil Engineering 1" (BFIV117) features Under the River, Making Tracks, Operation London Bridge and 3 others.
"Journal Into Melody’s" own Gossip Column
♫ Sir William Walton’s original score for the film "Battle of Britain" is finally going to be restored to the soundtrack in this, his centenary year. Barely four minutes of his 25-minute composition were heard on the soundtrack (the marvellous Battle in the Air sequence), after the producers decided that they wanted the ‘typical American movie epic score’, and engaged Ron Goodwin. Walton’s score will not be new to his admirers: in 1999 Rykodisc issued a CD containing both the Walton and Goodwin scores (RCD 10747) and we revealed the story of how the ‘lost’ tapes had been rediscovered in JIM 139 (page 69). Apparently there are plans to issue a DVD of "Battle of Britain" with separate soundtracks containing both scores. When interviewed about this in April, Ron Goodwin said: "It’s a good idea. It will be a collector’s item. I never heard Walton’s score, apart from the ‘Battle in the Air’ section. I purposely didn’t because it would have been difficult to hear it first and then write a new score." Walton, who wrote the Coronation March for King George VI, and 16 years later for his daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, as well as the scores for Henry V and Hamlet, had been particularly inspired writing music for the film because he had been so devastated by the war, his widow recalled. Lady Walton remembered the pain of rejection, which was all the more acute because he had been so proud of his work for the film. "He couldn’t sleep for weeks," she said. "Nothing like that had ever happened to him." Director Guy Hamilton said: "The producers caved in to the demands of United Artists, thus ruining Walton’s carefully crafted score. I think the idea of resuscitating William’s tremendous score is entirely valid." Footnote: When asked to step in at the last minute, Ron Goodwin wrote the 50-minute score in two to three weeks. It turned out to be one of his great works for the screen, alongside Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines, Where Eagles Dare and 633 Squadron.
♫ We know that many of our readers show a keen interest in music chosen for various TV programmes and commercials. Ray Clark recommends a reference book which should appeal to RFS members in Britain – "Tele Tunes 2002". The lists also extend to films and shows, and cover well-known shows from years ago, as well as more recent productions. UK members can get a copy by sending a cheque for £18.50 to the publishers, Mike Preston Music, The Glengarry, Thornton Drive, Morecambe Bay, Lancashire, LA4 5PU.
♫ Tony Bennett is back in the UK for more concerts this summer. If you’re lucky enough to get tickets, you can catch him at Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow on 2 July; London’s Royal Festival Hall on 4 & 5 July; and Liverpool Kings Dock on 7 July. Thanks to Mark Fox for this information. Early in April Tony made a flying visit to London, including an appearance on Michael Parkinson’s TV show. His former manager Derek Boulton caught up with him, and Tony expressed a wish to have as much Farnon orchestral music as possible on CD. Thanks to the current seven Vocalion reissues of Decca and Rediffusion albums, plus a few more recent CDs, the RFS Record Service was very happy to oblige! A parcel was promptly despatched to Derek, which soon found its way to Tony at the Dorchester.
♫ In this issue you will find a review of Steven Wills’ latest CD "A Girl For All Seasons", plus details of his previous release "Girl in a Suitcase". Readers will know that proceeds from these CDs go to Winchester Hospital Radio, and during 2001 Steven collected a total of £970, which was supplemented by a further £736 from Barclays Bank re their ‘pound-for-pound’ employee scheme from Test Card Convention sales. The latest CD includes a number of tracks composed by Jimmy Kennedy, which have been made available to Steven by Jimmy’s son Derek and his wife Rosemary. Jimmy Kennedy’s centenary is July 20th 2002, so this release provides a timely tribute to a talented songwriter.
♫ ‘Society Century’ prompted a certain amount of brain cell activity in our last issue. Hucklebuckle mentioned three anagrams by Brian Henson of famous Farnon compositions. John Govier wrote to put us all out of our misery. SO NICE AT ASCOT is "State Occasion"; LET JUNIOR MEND YOYO is "Journey Into Melody"; and I WISH TO LIFT A HUGE BUN becomes "How Beautiful Is Night".
♫ As we go to press we have learned that the Birmingham Civic Society will be unveiling a plaque in honour of one of their city’s most famous musicians – Albert W. Ketèlbey. The event is due to take place on Wednesday 22 May at the Birmingham and Midland Institute. Tony Clayden has been invited to attend on behalf of our Society, and in our next issue we hope to have his report and a photograph.
♫ Philip Brady gave our Society a generous ‘plug’ in the Nightline Newsletter for 3AW Melbourne on 8 April (available on e-mail).
♫ Alexander Schatte writes from Berlin with some news that will interest German RFS members. This year the Munich Radio Orchestra celebrates its 50th anniversary, and a fascinating book is now available – 50 Jahre Münchner Rundfunkorchester 1952-2002, edited by Doris Sennefelder – ISBN 3-7618-1530-1, price €24.90.
♫ We have heard that John Wilson is working on the score for a new television production about Winston Churchill.
♫ Gavin Sutherland has composed a musical based on "Little Women", which will be performed at the Bloomsbury Theatre in London during July. Antony Askew tells us that the music is magnificent, perhaps slightly reminiscent of "Oklahoma".
The Musical Museum (at 368 High Street, Brentford, Middlesex) is closing down in October this year (reports John Playle). Hopefully it will re-open sometime after April 2004 in relocated premises, purpose-built, very close by, but a little further towards Kew Bridge. The telephone number for enquiries is 020 8560 8108 – on Saturdays and Sundays between 2.00 and 5.00pm until October. Ernie Gipson included Robert Farnon’s Royal Occasion in a special concert of recorded music he presented at Southend’s Civic Centre on Tuesday 28 May. RFS member David Noadessupplied two of the illustrations for the artwork on the CD booklet accompanying the reissue of the Johnny Harris album "Movements". He has rightly received a credit in the booklet: "It’s a dream come true for me, with my name mentioned alongside Johnny Harris" he tells us. The Music ofRobert Farnon will be celebrated by Charles Job and the Palm Court Orchestra next March in two Canadian concerts on Friday 21 March and Saturday 22 March. The British pianist Philip Dysonwill be a featured soloist. Tickets can be booked on (250) 748-9964 (Canada). John Wilson did a magnificent job arranging and conducting Howard Goodall’s music for the excellent BBC Film The Gathering Storm (about Winston Churchill in the 1930s) shown in July. Readers living to the east of London may fancy a trip down to the coast one evening. At the Boatyard Restaurant at Leigh-on-Sea (on the Essex coast) they can enjoy good food, plus the delights of the John Wilson Orchestra on the following dates: Fridays 27 September, 25 October and 29 November. The price is £45 per person, and you can telephone your booking on 01702 475588. James Beyer will be conducting hisEdinburgh Light Orchestra at the Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, at their next popular concert on Saturday 9 November. This will be a special event, celebrating the Orchestra’s 25th Anniversary, and we send our warm congratulations to James on this splendid achievement. To be on the mailing list just send your name and address to James Beyer at 4 St. John’s Gardens, Edinburgh, EH12 6NT. He will also keep you informed of the entertaining Sunday afternoon concerts at the same venue by theEdinburgh Palm Court Orchestra. The next two will take place on 29 September and 16 February 2003. You can combine the concert with a meal beforehand. Our website on the internet continues to establish contacts with many interesting people, who often leave messages in our Guest Book. We recently heard from Mrs. Geri Tamburello, widow of the late Tony Tamburello, who worked with Robert Farnon back in the 1960s and was also a talented light music composer. Geri wondered if we still remembered her husband; we assured her that we did! Rosemary Squires will be taking her charming show "Day By Day" (a celebration of the life of Doris Day) to the Hippodrome Theatre, Eastbourne, on Saturday 21 September, and the Georgian Theatre, Richmond, Yorkshire, on Friday 25 October – both shows commence at 7.30. The Hastings Light Orchestra continues to flourish (reports Allan Bula). They performed their third concert in Hastings at the St. Mary-in-the-Castle Arts Centre on 28 April, followed by appearances at the Komedia, Brighton on 28 May (as part of the Brighton Festival), and also appeared at the refurbished bandstand in Alexandra Park, Hastings on Jubilee Day Tuesday June 4th. Brian Henson was recently impressed with a video of Vera Lynn on Thames TV in 1977 with George Shearing. It is currently available on Revelation PAR 50147.Malcolm Frazer had his request for Robert Farnon’s Rhapsody for Violin and Orchestra played on BBC Radio-3 on Saturday afternoon, 27 July. Frank Southern has given us details of two forthcoming concerts featuring John Wilson conducting the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester: 25 January "The Bard on Broadway", and Saturday 22 February "Memories of the Light Programme" with music by Farnon, Coates, Strachey, Williams … and many other ‘greats’. Barry Wordsworthwill be conducting the BBC Concert Orchestra in a gala concert "Celebrate!" at the Royal Festival Hall on Wednesday 18 September. Brian Kay will introduce a superb programme by Eric Coates, Sidney Torch, Robert Farnon, Stanley Black, Malcolm Arnold, Elgar, etc. The orchestra will also be at the RFH on Tuesday 10 December when John Wilson will be waving the baton for "Christmas Classics". Don Lusher visited a car showroom in Bournemouth on 21 June (reports Terry Tredget) together with Digby Fairweather and Tommy Whittle. They were supporting local impresario Bernie Farrenden, who had organised a concert in aid of the Macmillan Unit at nearby Christchurch Hospital.
IT ALL BEGAN IN 1956 …
David Ades attempts a Potted History of the Robert Farnon (Appreciation) Society
This special edition of Journal Melody demands that something should be written about our Society, but space precludes anything other than an attempt to record the most important milestones. A more detailed account of our activities over the first 57 years will, hopefully, appear on our website one day.
No doubt the seeds of the RFAS (the word ‘Appreciation’ was dropped from our name in 1980) were nurtured during 1955, but it was in 1956 that the first London meeting was held at the Bonnington Hotel, Southampton Row, on Sunday 15 April, and the first issue of Journal Into Melody was distributed to the small handful of members in June.
I learned of the Society through a letter that Robert Farnon had written to my friend Richard Hindley (now living in Australia, but still a member). I contacted Ken Head, the Secretary, and years later learned that I was actually the second member to join (Peter Bunfield beat me!). Ken was ably assisted by his wife Dot as Treasurer, and John Costin was JIM’s first Editor (I am delighted to say that John is still a member of the RFS). John continued as Editor until December 1962, when this important duty fell into the hands of Harvey Greenfield. This coincided with Ken and Dot asking me to take over their duties, as their family commitments were increasing; John also wanted to take a back seat after his sterling work for the first 6½ years. I officially took over as Secretary and Treasurer late in 1962, posts I have held continuously to this day.
Unfortunately Harvey’s tenure as Editor was cut short by illness, and I became ‘Acting Editor’ for issue 33 (November 1970). This was our largest issue to date, which included the first revision of the 1965 Robert Farnon Discography, compiled by Michael Mancktelow (before he changed his surname to Maine) and myself. The magazine also included a list of members, which failed to reach 80. It came as a great shock to us all when Harvey Greenfield died in 1971.
So for the second time I took over as Editor of Journal Into Melody as a stop-gap (I had been a ‘Guest Editor’ in 1961 when John Costin was away in the USA), until another ‘willing volunteer’ could be ‘persuaded’!
I had to wait until August 1974 when Michael Maine offered to edit JIM. Michael was a real asset to our Society: not only was he passionate about Light Music, but he also worked at the BBC! This gave him access to some priceless archives previously denied to us, although I must emphasise that this only extended to information – no records or similar material ever came our way.
I always looked forward to Michael’s issues of JIM, although I started to notice that he was struggling to fit this in with his BBC work. He was a newsreader in various regions (the RFS has an archive video of one of his Bristol news broadcasts) and then he was in the presentation suites of BBC1 and BBC2 (he often told the story of how film buffs hated him for mistakenly ending the film "Citizen Kane" before the final credits rolled!).
It came as no surprise when Michael asked me to take over again as Editor commencing with issue 70 in March 1983. Despite regular requests for some ‘new blood’ in the Editorial office, no volunteers were forthcoming, so I began my final 30-year ‘stint’ as JIM’s Editor.
I can still remember that terrible day at our London meeting on Sunday 15 April 1984 when we were waiting for Michael to arrive. He was due to present some of the music, but the clock reached our starting time, and there was no sign of Michael. One of the audience said that he had heard of a nasty car accident on the Brighton road a few days before, and he seemed to recall that Michael might have been involved. A few days later this awful news was confirmed when we learned that Michael (aged only 33) and a friend had been killed on their way from Brighton to work at the BBC. One can only imagine the wonderful things that Michael might have done for the RFS in future years
had his life not been so cruelly cut short.
I continued to hope that someone would soon come forward to edit our magazine, but no one wanted the main job. But I did have some great help from an Assistant Editor, of which more later.
Recognising that things were happening between issues of JIM (which did not always appear as regularly as in later years) a separate RFAS Special Newssheet was launched in February 1963 – this was later renamed RFAS News. Basically the idea was to keep members up to date with Robert Farnon’s latest work in radio, TV and films – plus new recordings. The Newssheets lasted until No. 67 in July 1979 and some of the issues were edited by Don Furnell - usually when I was involved in mundane matters such as house moves.
Don and Joyce were well known to members at our London meetings, where Don’s popular presentations (usually focussing on the jazzier side of Bob Farnon’s work) were a regular feature. They joined the RFAS in 1956, and later on Don acted as Assistant Secretary. With little warning that she was unwell, Joyce suddenly died in 1999. The shock clearly affected Don deeply, and after a short illness he also passed away on 18 April 2000 aged 65.
At this point it is pertinent to mention the finances of the early years. Incredibly our subscription income for the year ended 1964 was only £19 yes … nineteen pounds! Our subscription rate was 10/- (50p) and the loss for the year was £11.4.0 (£11.20). Hardly surprising, then, that some of the magazines were not very large. (I can still remember the many hours I addressed magazine envelopes by hand – remember computers were still far off in those days!). Poor attendance at some meetings (occasionally no more than around 20) also put further strains on the finances – you might guess at what had to happen to make up the shortfall. We needed many more members, but these were the days when the musical snobs at the BBC were doing their best to kill off Light Music. Our friends in The Light Music Society went into limbo for several years, but thankfully they eventually emerged and are once again a strong force in support of our cause.
Throughout all the lean years the RFS bravely kept going, although there were occasions during the 1970s and 1980s when it could easily have folded. But our finances gradually recovered – helped to a small extent by the first stirrings of what became the RFS Record Service and a gradual rise in membership numbers.
For many years finding good printers for the magazine was a real headache. I have lost count of how many different ones we had. At the start the only affordable technology available was Gestetner: you had to type onto flimsy skins (using copious amounts of bright red correcting fluid) which were then delivered to a copy bureau. Photocopying techniques gradually became affordable, which meant that the magazine was pasted up onto sheets (sometimes to be reduced in size) and then delivered for processing. It wasn’t possible to proof read the results, and occasionally I was shocked at the poor quality when the magazines were delivered to me. Eventually things improved dramatically when our member, Michael Phillips, the owner of Chartwell Press, offered to print JIM for us. (He thus became an official ‘Assistant Editor’). This was when word processors and computers were starting to appear, and floppy discs were the means of transferring the text. Sometimes an issue would take up to around 15 discs, which must have been a real headache for the printer. Happily CDRs came along, and one magazine now occupies a small portion of the space available on each disc, and the quality is identical to the original.
Michael sold Chartwell Press, and we continued using them under the new owners. For a while he continued to help me, until I became proficient with Microsoft Publisher, and he was then able to leave everything to me. This has continued to this day. Chartwell also distribute the magazine, using address labels supplied by Albert Killman, and they also take them to their local post office for distribution. Apart from a few annoying delays in the post, the system has worked reasonably well.
I had noticed that I was getting requests from members to help them to obtain deleted Robert Farnon LPs. Through a small number of contacts I was able to oblige, and things suddenly took a dramatic turn for the better when Chappells were discarding hundreds of surplus 78s and LPs, and they generously gave them to us. The few pence we made on selling all these records to members provided the financial strength we so badly needed: it is surprising how the pennies add up, and it helped us to keep subscription rates within reasonable figures.
Although I derived pleasure from helping members to obtain these rare recordings, I must confess that running the RFS Record Service could, at times, be a chore. Parcels got ‘lost’ in the post (I hope that when they were ‘found’ the contents were enjoyed by a postal worker somewhere!) and there was one member who returned his batch of records after a week saying that he didn’t like them. When this happened a second time I had to ban him from receiving any more. I explained that we were not operating a record lending library. No doubt his tape recorder wasn’t so busy thereafter!
Running the Record Service as well as being Secretary, Treasurer and Magazine Editor was beginning to cause serious problems with my spare time. If it hadn’t been for the fact that I was made redundant in 1989 I could well have had to make some serious decisions about what I could continue to do. Even being officially retired, I was getting busy doing other things for music publishers and record companies, so it was a great relief when two things happened. Albert Killman offered to become Membership Secretary in 2000 and Malcolm Osman (nobly assisted by his wife Jane) took over the RFS Record Service in 2008. They have all been a tower of strength, for which I am most grateful.
Looking back over so many years I continue to be impressed at the quality of the articles and features submitted by members. It is often said that with only a small percentage of members able to attend our London meetings, it is the magazine that is the most important thing that the RFS provides for the majority of them. I am going to resist the temptation to name any names, because I am sure to regret missing out some important ones when this article appears in print. But you know who you are, and one of you in today’s magazine also contributed to JIM issue one!
I have so many pleasant memories of the London meetings. Top of the list has been the many times that Robert Farnon was present. Often he travelled over from Guernsey just to be with us, although I hope that he managed to fit in some meetings with his publishers, and maybe the BBC, while he was in London for a few days. The first time I saw a Chappell record was at my first London meeting, when Jim Palm had them on his two-turntable record deck. How envious I was … those 78s were so strictly controlled by Chappells that it was many years before we could get them for members. But Robert Farnon generously gave us one 78 each year, containing two of his compositions, starting in March 1957, and members received a total of 11 before the final one in November 1968 at a time when 78s really were being consigned to history!
Today our London meetings have superb audio and video facilities operated expertly by Tony Clayden. It wasn’t always like that! Various parts of the equipment used to be brought along by different members, and I can still remember John Parry having to use matchsticks to fit the wires from his tape recorder into the electricity supply because his plug didn’t fit!
Another of the major benefits of membership, at least to many of our British members, has been the opportunity to attend Robert Farnon’s radio and television broadcasts, and the occasional recording sessions.
Arthur Jackson was the first ‘personality’ to attend our meetings. As well as being the Recorded Music Manager at Chappells, he was also a respected record critic, and he remained loyal to the RFS until ill health took its toll. Among the many other celebrities who we met were Angela Morley, Clive Richardson, Sir Vivian Dunn, Robin Boyle, Adelaide Hall, Alan Dell, Malcolm Laycock, Roy Oakshott, Philip Brady (from Australia), Rosemary Squires MBE, Ron Goodwin, Ernest Tomlinson MBE, Eric Parkin, John Fox, Joy Devon, Trevor Duncan, Heinz Herschmann, Paul Lewis, Edmund Hockridge, Nigel Hess, Iain Sutherland, Neil Richardson, Debbie Wiseman MBE, Brian Kay, John Wilson, Mike Dutton, Sigmund Groven, Anthony Wills and most recently Sir Sydney Samuelson … the list is almost endless, and many of them became firm friends.
One chapter of The Robert Farnon Society is now closing, with this, the final printed issue of Journal Into Melody. But make no mistake – the RFS will continue through our internet website. The enthusiasm of the members who have agreed to look after it in the future makes me very confident that it will be a place where Light Music fans from all over the world will want to visit regularly.
This article first appeared in the December 2013 issue of Journal Into Melody