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David Ades was a good and kind man whose seemingly limitless knowledge of Light Music, in all of its multifarious forms, earned him the friendship and respect of musicians and music-lovers the world over.
I first encountered David when I was in my early twenties and he was an invaluable support to me at the start of my career. He helped me organise a number of concerts, most notably Robert Farnon's 80th Birthday Concert at St. John's, Smith Square, which he presented from the stage.
The revival of interest in Light Orchestral Music over the past two decades owes much to David's tireless work as editor of the Robert Farnon Society's Journal and to his work as a producer of over 100 CDs, ensuring that a significant body of English Music is preserved for generations to come.
David Ades was Secretary and Treasurer of the Robert Farnon Society from 1962 until December 2013, when the Society ceased to function as a Membership Organisation. For much of that time, he also edited JOURNAL INTO MELODY, which became highly regarded as a model of its kind throughout the world.
Born in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, David was educated at the local High School For Boys. Upon leaving school in 1954, David joined the Midland Bank, with a break for National Service in the RAF from 1956-58. During his later career, he was appointed manager at branches in Northampton, Leicester, Eastwood (Nottingham), and ultimately served as a member of a management team based in Mansfield.
His love of music had started as a small child, listening to radio broadcasts. At the age of seven, a kind neighbour lent him a portable gramophone during his convalescence from a long illness, and that kindled what was to become a lifetime’s interest in record collecting.
During the 1940s, David enjoyed listening to the many light orchestras performing ‘live’ on BBC radio and he was fascinated by the compositions used as signature tunes. A few were available on commercial discs, but he soon discovered that most had been recorded on special publishers’ ‘78s’, not for sale to the general public. His frustration at being unable to obtain this material was compounded when he began to recognise many pieces used in Cinema Newsreels.
In 1956, David became a member of the newly-formed Robert Farnon Appreciation Society (the word Appreciation was later dropped), where he met Bob Farnon and other notable musicians active in the field of Light Music. In 1962, he took over as Secretary of the Society, remaining at the helm until 2013.
Following visits to Radio and Television studios, and attending occasional recording sessions, his connection to the Light Music ‘scene’ grew ever-stronger, and he would become well-known within the profession for his extensive- indeed encyclopaedic- knowledge of the genre.
Although time for such activities was perforce limited by his work commitments, he was able to write the sleeve-notes for a Polydor album by Robert Farnon entitled Portrait Of The West. This became the first of several commissions. In 1988, Grasmere Records engaged David to compile a collection of Famous Themes (drawn from the Chappell library) for their third volume in a successful series of LPs, which were also issued on Compact Cassette.
In 1989, David was offered a very generous early- retirement package, and this enabled him, at the age of only 51, to concentrate almost ‘full-time’ on his great passions – Light Music in general, and the Robert Farnon Society in particular. Soon afterwards, David and his family re-located from the East Midlands to their beautiful new home in Somerset, where, in later years, they played host to some ‘ extra’ meetings, held during the summer, for members of the RFS.
In 1991, Reference Recordings (US) asked David to write the notes for an important project featuring some of Bob Farnon’s more ‘serious’ works, and he also contributed the notes for three albums by Bob with the American soprano Eileen Farrell.
From 1992 onwards, David worked on several projects for EMI; the CD Music For A Country Cottage was re-packaged for HMV record shops, reaching their Top Ten list for several weeks. Further releases around that time included Memories Of The Light Programme and tributes to George Melachrino, Charles Williams and Sidney Torch. British Film Music of the 1940s and 1950s was widely praised, David’s extensive booklet notes no doubt contributing to that acclaim. Also particularly successful was a two-CD collection of fifty themes entitled The Great British Experience, (still available today) and its sequel, The Great Sporting Experience, which Q Magazine named their Compilation Of The Month. Following the sudden death of Ron Goodwin in 2003, David quickly put- together a special two-disc CD tribute set for EMI.
Throughout the decade he worked with various London publishers, assisting them with the re-issue many of their archive recordings onto CD. Major projects were handled for- inter-alia- Chappell, Bruton, Atmosphere Music and KPM; for the latter company, David negotiated the purchase of the Charles Brull / Harmonic music library, which had been inactive in administrators’ hands for many years. He also arranged for Extreme Music to acquire a library of Mood Music from a leading German publisher.
In 1991, Marco Polo introduced a landmark series, newly recorded, entitled British Light Music, andDavid assisted with information for several releases, as well as providing the complete booklet notes for the Samuel Coleridge Taylor, Sidney Torch and Trevor Duncan CDs. Other labels to commission notes and compilations included ASV/Sanctuary, Conifer, Naxos, Silver Screen and Jasmine.
In 1995, the BBC Radio-2 producer Roy Oakshott engaged David to work on a new series entitled Legends Of Light Music. As well as choosing the musical items, the brief included preparing basic scripts, which the presenters could then embellish with their own personal comments. The first and second series were introduced by Denis Norden; 1997 saw Russell Davies as compere, with Bob Monkhouse hosting the final two series in 1999 and 2000, making a total of thirty-three half-hour editions.
Michael Dutton introduced a new series of Easy Listening CDs on his Vocalion label in 2000, and David was involved from the outset, helping to select the repertoire and of course writing many of the booklet notes. Over the next few years, almost all of Robert Farnon’s Decca albums were re-issued, as well as ‘classic’ albums from Stanley Black, Frank Chacksfield, George Melachrino, Mantovani and Cyril Stapleton.
The archives at Rediffusion Records and EMI also yielded further treasures and during this busy period David contributed to over fifty releases.
Concurrently, he was devoting much time to running the Society; the job of editing Journal Into Melody alone took- up at least eighty hours per issue and although he had some valuable assistance, the main task of producing the publication continued to fall upon his shoulders until the very last edition. He taught himself to use Desk Top Publishing, becoming very proficient in the latter and this resulted in a very high standard of the finished product.
He also researched the archives of several leading publishers of production music, (e.g. BMG, Chappell, Bruton, Charles Brull/Harmonic, Francis Day and Hunter, KPM, Boosey and Hawkes, Bosworth and Paxton) and this led to the production of many new CDs for professional users, advertisers and film makers, who could then utilise genuine vintage recordings to support their productions. More recently, David worked in a consultative capacity with the Imperial War Museum, to provide music soundtracks for the silent films in their archives; these have now been made commercially available.
David wrote the scripts for several BBC Radio documentaries about Robert Farnon, and in 2005 he assisted with the making of a BBC Television documentary –A Little Light Music- narrated by Brian Kay, which was shown on BBC 4. David briefly appeared on- screen, but his main contribution was helping to develop the scripts and providing photos, record sleeves and labels. Some ’clips’ from videos which he had taken at a Bob Farnon recording session with George Shearing at the CTS Studios, Wembley, were also shown.
David was a guest on BBC Radio Three, on Brian Kay’s Light Programme, broadcast on January 27th 2005. Six years later, in June 2011, the same channel presented a week-long series of programmes entitled Light Fantastic. David assisted ‘behind the scenes’ and was interviewed by Petroc Trelawny during the interval of the main Saturday evening concert, in which John Wilson conducted the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
David contributed (anonymously) a number of musicians’ biographies to the Guinness Encyclopaedia Of Popular Music - and also to the New Grove Encyclopaedia, in the latter case receiving due credit.
Probably David’s finest achievement, and arguably his greatest legacy, is his involvement with the Golden Age Of Light Music CDs for Guild Records. In 2003, he was approached by the owners of the Swiss-based company to compile and produce the series, the first releases appearing in 2004. In addition to choosing the music- much of which originated from his own collection and that of Alan Bunting- he was tasked with supervising the digital restoration (expertly carried-out by Alan) and to write the comprehensive programme notes for each release. It is doubtful if anyone could have foreseen the phenomenal success of this venture; by the end of 2014, the 124th disc had been reached and the total number of tracks restored and issued was around 3000 ! Many, if not most, of these would otherwise have been lost to posterity.
At the time of writing, more releases are planned; David’s programme notes were completed during the last few months of his life.
Other recent projects have included occasional booklet notes for other record companies and the recording of programmes for the Internet Music Station Radio Six International, featuring both Light Music and Dance Bands.
Ironically, David's last completed programme was broadcast on February 21st 2015 – the day of his death at the age of 76 – after a prolonged and cruel illness which he bore with great dignity, courage and fortitude. David must surely be credited with almost single-handedly rescuing Light Music on recordings and broadcasts, at a time when the genre had almost drowned in a sea of ignorance, apathy and indifference; the raising of its profile in recent years must in no small way be due to his tireless efforts. He was the driving force of the Robert Farnon Society, a unique organisation which flourished for around fifty-seven years – itself a notable achievement – and which gave so much pleasure to so many people, both in the UK and World-Wide, during that time.
I was privileged to work with David for several years, helping to organise the London Meetings of the Society and he was always very courteous and unflappable. Many of us learned a great deal from him, and will continue to feel a huge sense of loss at his passing.
‘Off –duty’, David was a very private, modest and gentle man who, in addition to the music, enjoyed his lovely garden, a glass of good wine, and a spot of travelling. He was devoted to his wife of 48 years Moira, whom he had first met at primary school; his daughter Fenella; and his two grandsons James and William.
To all his family, sincere condolences are extended.
Tony Clayden – February 2015
With acknowledgements to Geoff Leonard, Alan Bunting and Tony Currie
It is indeed a shock to hear about David's passing, although I was aware that he had his health problems. Still, I don't think any of us imagined that it would come this quickly.
It was additionally unsettling for me as I had been in continuous dialogue with him by email, long before I joined the RFS or contributed formal articles to the JIM publication. David apparently was very interested in the musical insights and comments I as a professional musician demonstrated in regard to light music, as he very graciously offered to print our dialogues in the then current JIM publications as potential interest to other members. He was very generous in this regard, even printing more than I ever realistically expected to see in print, although I needn't have to point out that I was extremely pleased by this.
And as a result, I decided to join the RFS, and began writing various articles on light music up to the end of publication, which David in turn was very pleased by.
His generosity extended into other areas. He always answered any email correspondence of mine promptly and to the point, and always gave his apology if he was unavoidably delayed for any reason.
Moreover, during the period of our correspondence, we suffered frequent bouts of adverse weather conditions here in the USA, including that of Hurricane Sandy just over two years ago. He always expressed a concern about how I got through such conditions and was always greatly relieved when I realized that I had survived it, as I was still writing to him!
Needless to say, I and I'm sure others were hardly happy about his plans to give up the reins of the JIM publication and the secretaryship of the RFS, but he had clearly explained that it was for health reasons primarily.
I kept up my email correspondence with him over the ensuing year, but most of our dialogue seemed to center on health issues. He apparently had various types of surgery for cancer of different parts of the body, and we discussed the various types of treatment, as I myself had a sort of cancer for which I was treated, and have now been free of it for twelve years, so we compared notes on this. He seemed little disposed to discussing any other topic. He was unhappy over the fact that he would have to give up his driving duties and leave it to his wife to chauffeur him around, but I advised him that this should be the least of his worries.
Sometime last month, in January, I made an attempt to contact him again, to find out how he was, and this time I received no response, which concerned me greatly, as this was totally unlike him, as he always answered my email messages to him.
My final answer to this came in the form of the posting on the RFS website, which I read yesterday to the day I am writing this tribute. It was very shocking to me - I knew that he was not in the best of health, but I did not realize that his condition had progressed to apparently what it was. Even more unsettling for me was to discover, upon noting his age as given, that I was three years his senior.
I send my best wishes of sympathy to his wife and other family, and hope that David will find his peace and fulfillment after having left us.
Radio Six International will be paying tribute to David at 7 p.m. UK time on 24th February. The programme will be repeated on various occasions afterwards. The schedule can be found here: http://www.radiosix.com/schedule.html
"Tony Currie introduces a tribute to the broadcaster and musicologist who died on Saturday. With contributions from Alan Bunting and Gavin Sutherland. Radio Six International Syndication (Broadcast on Tuesday)Also on 88.2MHz FM in New Zealand."
David Ades was Secretary and Treasurer of The Robert Farnon Society from 1962 until December 2013. For much of the time he also edited the society’s magazine Journal Into Melody.
David Clive Ades was born in a Nursing Home in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex on 2 March 1938. Until he was 29 he lived in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex apart from a period during the Second World War when he was evacuated with his parents to Langley, near Slough. From 1956 to 1958 he did his National Service in the Royal Air Force.
After several years at Westleigh Junior School, David was educated at Westcliff High School For Boys 1949-1954. At school one of his close friends was John Baker (1937-1997), who would later achieve much praise for his work as a composer with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.
He was employed by the Midland Bank from 16 August 1954 until he was made redundant on 30 April 1989. During his later career he was a Manager at branches in Northampton, Leicester, Eastwood and as part of a management team based in Mansfield.
His interest in music began as a young child through listening to the radio. At the age of seven a kind neighbour lent him a portable gramophone during convalescence from a long illness, and this prompted a lifetime's record collecting.
During the 1940s he enjoyed listening to the many light orchestras performing on the radio, and he was also fascinated by music used as signature tunes. A few were available on commercial 78s, but he soon discovered that many of them were recorded on special publishers' 78s not on sale to the general public. His frustration at not being able to obtain this music was made all the more intense when he began to recognise many pieces used in newsreels at the cinema.
In 1956 David joined the newly-formed Robert Farnon Appreciation Society where he met Robert Farnon and other musicians active in the world of Light Music. In 1962 he was proud to be asked by the founders Kenneth and Dorothy Head to take over as Secretary of the society.
As a result of visits to radio and television studios, and attending occasional recording sessions, his interest in the music scene grew ever stronger, and he became known to some people in the profession for his knowledge of light music.
His spare time for such activities was restricted due to his work commitments, but in 1972 he was approached by Polydor to write the sleeve notes for an album by Robert Farnon entitled "Portrait Of The West". This was the first of several similar commissions, until in 1988 Grasmere Records approached him to compile a collection of famous themes in their third volume of a successful series of LPs.
After being made redundant in 1989, he was able to devote more time to his interest in music, and in 1991 the US Record Company Reference Recordings asked him to write the notes for an important project featuring new recordings of some of Robert Farnon's more serious works. He also contributed notes for three albums by Farnon with the American soprano Eileen Farrell.
From 1992 onwards he worked on several projects for EMI, including "Music For A Country Cottage" (when repackaged for HMV shops it reached their Top Ten list for several weeks), "Memories Of The Light Programme" and tributes to Sidney Torch, Charles Williams and George Melachrino. A film music CD entitled "British Film Music of the 1940s and 1950s" was widely praised, partly for the extensive booklet notes. Particularly successful was a 2-CD collection of 50 themes called "The Great British Experience", still available today, which prompted a sequel "The Great Sporting Experience" (Q magazine made it their compilation of the month). Following Ron Goodwin's sudden death in 2003, David quickly compiled a special 2-CD tribute for EMI.
Throughout the 1990s David worked with various London publishers assisting them to reissue some of their archive recordings on to CD. Major projects were handled for Chappell, Bruton, KPM and Atmosphere Music among others. For KPM David negotiated the purchase of the Charles Brull/Harmonic background music library, which had been inactive in administrators' hands for many years. He also arranged for Extreme Music to acquire a library of mood music from a leading German publisher.
In 1991 Marco Polo began recording a landmark series called "British Light Music", and David helped with information for several releases, as well as providing the complete booklet notes for Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Sidney Torch and Trevor Duncan. Other companies to commission notes and compilations from David included ASV/Sanctuary, Conifer, Naxos, Silva Screen, Jasmine.
Roy Oakshott, producer at BBC Radio-2, engaged David to compile a new series called "Legends Of Light Music" in 1995. As well as choosing the music, his brief included writing basic scripts for the presenters to embellish with their own personalities. Denis Norden introduced the first shows followed by a second series in 1997. Russell Davies introduced series three in 1998, with Bob Monkhouse hosting the final two series in 1999 and 2000. In total there were 33 half-hour editions of "Legends of Light Music".
Michael Dutton began a new series of easy listening CDs on his Vocalion label in 2000, and David was involved from the outset in helping to select the repertoire and writing many of the booklet notes. Over the next few years almost all of Robert Farnon's Decca albums were reissued on Vocalion, as well as 'classic' LPs by the likes of Stanley Black, Frank Chacksfield, George Melachrino, Mantovani and Cyril Stapleton. The archives at Rediffusion and EMI also revealed further treasures, and David was involved in over fifty releases during a busy period.
He also researched the archives of several leading publishers of production music (such as BMG, Chappell, Bruton, Charles Brull/Harmonic, Francis Day & Hunter, unterarmonicx KPM, Boosey & Hawkes, Bosworth, Paxton) resulting in many new CDs for professional users, thus enabling advertisers and film makers to use genuine vintage recordings to support their productions. More recently he worked with the Imperial War Museum providing music soundtracks for silent films in their archives which have now been made commercially available.
David wrote the script for several BBC radio documentaries about Robert Farnon, and assisted with a BBC television documentary about Light Music in 2005 - "A Little Light Music", narrated by Brian Kay. This was shown on BBC Four, and David briefly appeared on screen. But his main contribution was in helping with the script, providing photos, record sleeves and labels. Some video recordings he took of Robert Farnon recording with George Shearing at CTS Studios were also shown.
David was a guest on Brian Kay’s Light Programme on BBC Radio Three broadcast on 27 January 2005. In June 2011 BBC Radio Three presented a series of programmes about Light Music called "Light Fantastic". David assisted behind the scenes and was interviewed by Petroc Trelawny during the interval of the main Saturday evening concert in which John Wilson conducted the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
He has contributed a number of musicians' biographies anonymously to the Guinness Encyclopaedia of Popular Music and also to the New Grove encyclopaedia where he received due credit.
From 2004 he was producer and compiler of the Guild Music "Golden Age of Light Music" series of CDs. As well as choosing the music and supervising the digital sound restoration (in the expert hands of Alan Bunting), David also wrote extensive booklet notes for each release. By the end of 2014 the 124th release had been reached, involving the restoration of around three thousand pieces of music, many of which might otherwise have been lost to posterity.
Other projects included the recording of programmes for the Internet Music Station Radio Six International (radiosix.com) specialising in Light Music. He also received occasional requests for booklet notes from other record companies.
David died on 21st February 2015 at the age of 76. He is survived by Moira, whom he married in 1967, his daughter, Fenella, and two grandsons, James and William.
It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Robert Farnon Society organiser, David Ades. David died on Saturday 21st February, at the age of 76, after suffering from ill-health for some time. Our sincere condolences to his family.
David was Secretary and Treasurer of The Robert Farnon Society from 1962 until December 2013. For much of the time he also edited the society’s magazine Journal Into Melody.
A fuller tribute to David has been posted in our JIM section.
David Ades with Robert Farnon in 1997
We regret to announce the death of John Fox (b. 1924) on February 10th 2015.
John was a multi-talented arranger, composer and conductor and worked for many years in that capacity with the BBC Radio Orchestra. In addition, he wrote for TV and Film, and his particular interest in in vocal music led him to form the John Fox Singers.
A full obituary will follow in due course.