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
Members of The Robert Farnon Society explain how their love of Light Music has been enhanced by the Society’s activities since 1956.
These articles all appeared in the December 2013 issue of ‘Journal Into Melody’.
JOURNEY INTO MEMORIES
As a schoolboy in the mid-1940s, my main hobby was collecting records - 78s. I was fortunate in having a local record shop in South Woodford, Essex, where I could visit within walking distance, tell the lady in the store the music title, which I would have heard on the Light Programme earlier in the morning, she would then phone the BBC and find out the artist and label and order the disc for me. Another 4/8d from my pocket money!
The artists were of course the likes of Robert Farnon, Sidney Torch, Charles Williams, Eric Coates, Ron Goodwin and Ray Martin. So began my appreciation of light music. The first I heard of the Robert Farnon Appreciation Society was through small ads in The Gramophone and Melody Maker in the late 50s during my last years at school. I applied to Ken Head for membership and received my membership card (a real cardboard card with rounded corners, which I still have today). It was dated 18th January 1960.
My brother-in-law was a partner in an accounting firm in the West End of London and apart from having some showbiz clients such as Gracie Fields and Stanley Holloway it also administered several film companies. This enabled me to purchase, through the firm, copies of library music 78s from Chappell, Paxton and others. What a treat! I was now working and could afford a few discs every few months.
My career was destined to be in our family's wool business, based in the East End of London. I did apprenticeship in the City, the London Docks and two years in Bradford, Yorkshire, learning to grade and sort raw wool in mills there. Having completed this and returning to work in the factory in London, I made periodic visits to Yorkshire to sell wool to mills there. After a couple of years I realized that this wasn't really for me and in 1965, I contacted Bob Farnon to see if he had any ideas for me in the music business.
My only talents were a good musical ear, an ability to sing and some management experience. Bob replied and invited me to meet him at the Shepherds Bush Empire where he was recording a programme for the BBC. We chatted in the break and he said that there was a possible opening at Chappells following Pat Lynn's retirement and Bob arranged for me to meet Teddy Holmes, who was the director responsible for the music library. To my surprise and joy, I was given the job as manager.
Breaking this news to my family was difficult, but the family business was suffering at that time from the numerous London dock strikes, which eventually forced the company to close in 1966 when the docks themselves also closed down completely.
My nine years at Chappell were wonderful. I enjoyed the challenges of organizing repertoire, transferring the original 78 rpm disc library to LP, dealing with all the great writers - Len Stevens, Charles Williams, Peter Yorke, Wally Stott, Frank Cordell and all the others, not forgetting the Guvnor, Robert Farnon.
The Musicians Union ban on recording in the UK was still in effect at that time, so we frequently went to Hilversum, Copenhagen and Stockholm to record sessions. Bob Farnon was always the conductor during that time and we had lots of fun, enjoying the sessions, breakfasts, dinners and drinks. Of course, I was also lucky in being invited to Bob's own commercial sessions at CTS and Walthamstow Town Hall. During this time, I was responsible for the sound system at the RFS meetings at the Bonnington Hotel. I was living in Bayswater, so it wasn't far to travel by car, but hi-fi equipment (speakers, tape recorders, amps, etc,) were heavy in those days! But I think the society was grateful that I could provide new Chappell recordings "hot off the press".
In the early 70s, many libraries were beginning to record in London again. The musicians needed the work! But they were still done under the guise of "commercial" LPs or film sessions. One production I instigated and of which I am very proud was the LP later to be known as "Showcase for Soloists". The sessions went so quickly with such great musicians involved that we were also able to make new recordings of How Beautiful is Night and Blue Moment without going into overtime. The album was recorded at Chappells Studio and John Timperley was the engineer. John, Bob and I produced the final mix. To avoid any union problems, we managed to persuade Sidney Thompson to release the LP on his "Invicta" label.
One interesting story from these sessions: In the title Two's Company, the two solo trombonists were Don Lusher and Bobby Lamb. Bob Farnon gave the solo parts to all the soloists so they could practise before the sessions. Regrettably a mistake was made in that Bobby Lamb was given Don Lusher's part and vice versa. Don had far better reach on high notes than Bobby Lamb. During the middle, in Bobby's part, there was a fluff or break on a very high note. The only way we could try to hide it in the mix was by increasing the level of the strings in that section. I shouldn't be giving trade secrets away!
In the early 70s, Chappells was purchased by the Philips/Phonogram group and the Dutch accountants moved in, not knowing anything about library music and time it takes to produce income. They only knew about record sales in stores. For me, that was the writing on the wall together with the dire economy (coal miners’ strike, three-day workweek, which some older UK members may remember). I made a trip to Toronto, Canada in 1972 for my niece's wedding (my sister lived there) and met my current business partner Chris Stone, who had a small music consultancy service in Toronto and who received Chappell LPs from me in London. We spent one very long boozy night discussing how we could possibly expand a business involving his sales clients (film, TV, advertising) and my music production skills. This all materialised over the ensuing months and I applied for Canadian immigration late in 1972 and arrived there the next year.
We formed a company to handle Canadian representation of many European and American libraries for distribution in Canada and formed Parry Music Library - all this in 1974. The library was helped in its formation by my contacts with the British writers I had been working with at Chappells and in no time we had started producing LPs and distributing them worldwide. When CDs came on the scene in the early 1980s, we had produced 171 LPs and we now have about 350 CDs in the library.
As you would expect, I had to have some Farnon works in the library. The first titles were recorded in Johannesburg, South Africa, with Michael Hankinson conducting (The Wide World, etc.). The second batch was recorded in Los Angeles with Charles Yates conducting (Hockey Night, etc.), the third batch recorded in Toronto with Paul Zaza conducting (The Magic Island, etc.) and finally the recordings in Bratislava conducted by Peter Breiner and David Farnon (Cascades to the Sea, etc.). Thanks to Mike Dutton, all the above recordings were issued on his Vocalion label for posterity. Cascades to the Sea was a very expensive piece to record and it will probably never recoup its cost in royalties, but I offered to finance the recording of this piece as a "Big Thank You" to Bob Farnon for making my life happier through his music and for helping me achieve some success in the music business.
I hope that the Robert Farnon Society can continue in a web-based format to keep those of us, and hopefully some younger ones too, involved in the music we love and to hear of new releases and re-issues of our favourites.
THE LAST SOCIETY CENTURY
Hucklebuckle looks back to Journal Into Melodys 96-100
With JIM 96 (September 1989) we were still in the land of coloured covers, this one being blue; we now knew the Secretary’s new address and the issue began with Jumping Bean and a look at the Robert Famon Scene.
News of a George Benson recording session followed and a look at one or two new books preceded a Big Band Round Up and Part 3 of Serge Elhaïk’s tribute to U.S. musician Glenn Osser. A page of letters led into an update on the music of John Scott and the third part of an extensive research into that of Henry Mancini. A shoal of obituaries brought the issue almost to a close.
Pink was the look for issue 97 and two American composers were remembered, first with a piece on Irving Berlin (when I was a boy I thought he was German!) and then with George Gershwin and ‘Porgy and Bess’, Bob’s recording having been recently released on CD. Peter Copeland contributed a piece on ‘Modern Sound Recovery’ and page 14 brought us a report on the April 1989 London meeting. Nostalgia took over with a page from a 1945 Radio Times and a Jim Palm ‘Anno Domini’ offering relating to 1948. More on the work of John Scott followed plus a report by Peter Bunfield on a concert he had attended in Hull. ‘Keeping Track’ took a look at some of the new records as this issue came to a close.
Mellow yellow was the theme for issue 98 with a photo of Bob and members of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet beaming out at us; the Famon Scene occupied page 3 and obituaries for Freddy Clayton and Henry Hall followed, together with discographies for Monty Kelly and John Scott. The ballet ‘Anne of Green Gables’ filled the centre pages and a report on the November 1989 London meeting did the same for pages 14 and 15. News of new records filled several pages more, and readers’ letters wound up this 24-page issue.
Things were looking green with issue 99, proclaiming ‘A Busy Year Ahead for Bob’, and a more general survey looked at the wider scene with that Jumping Bean. A slightly blotchy photo taken in 1957 invited us to name some of the people pictured - which could have been a bit dfficult especially when, in one case, all you could see was the top of somebody’s head. Even so, one reader DID identify the member concerned!
A string of obituaries and tributes followed and this issue concluded with news of 2 Bosworth LPs which were available to members and half a dozen or so small ads.
In keeping with the occasion, JIM 100 (September 1990) was an impressive affair with no less than 56 pages and thin card covers. The front cover, in fact, was a montage of earlier issues and showed how styles had changed over the years. But money was short and an increase in subscriptions was on the cards. The RF Scene got us under way, and then a report on the Eileen Farrell / Robert Farnon recording sessions at the CTS studios in Wembley held in Spring 1990. The BBC had disbanded its Radio Orchestra and there was news of a new Laser Turntable selling for a modest £20,000. Put me down for half a dozen…
Assorted short items led to tributes to singer Sarah Vaughan who had died at 66 while the first part of The Quincy Jones Story followed. Jim Palm looked back to the records of 1956 in one of his ‘Anno Domini’ articles, and this was pursued by Musicrostic. A plethora of letters came next, and small ads and an obituary for bandleader Joe Loss. The April London meeting was reported on and then came another sad report on the death of Sidney Torch. The light music scene was changing at a rapid rate.
A clutch of record reviews followed, including one for Bob’s ‘At the Movies’ CD and then we had an almost complete answer to the riddle posed in the previous issue where all but two members were identified. The early days of the gramophone were recalled by Vic White and then came a 1953 report telling us that Bob was to settle in the USA; the last word came from Jumping Bean and the back cover, just like the front one, gave us more memories of JIMs of long ago.
Well, that’s just about it. It’s time to put down my quill for the last time and pack away the back-numbers: I may even take a holiday. Does anyone want a battered office desk and a swivel chair with the stuffing coming out?
Tony Clayden looks backon a lifetime’s interest in Light Music.
I loved Light Music virtually from day one! Apparently, from the age of about 18 months, I would sing myself to sleep with tunes I had heard on the radio – and that radio, in those immediate post-WW11 days, would be tuned to the BBC Light Programme. I cut my teeth, and very likely fell out of my high chair, listening to the compositions of Robert Farnon, Sidney Torch, Charles Williams, Trevor Duncan, Frederic Curzon and many more legendary names from the world of Light Music. By the age of about six, as a special treat, I would be allowed to stay up late and listen to Stanford Robinson’s weekly orchestral radioprogramme.
We lived in North London, very near to Alexandra Palace Television Station and had our first TV set in 1948. A regular feature was the Newsreels – both Adult and Childrens’ – and I began to realise that the music behind the news items was different from the usual tunes to be heard on the radio. In later years, as a regular cinemagoer, I would also hear this kind of music on Pathe, Paramount and other newsreels. They seemed to have ‘stock’ tunes which they would regularly re-use, and I became familiar with these, although I usually didn’t have a clue what they were, or who hadwritten them.
In the late 40s and throughout the 50s, there was a plethora of live music on the BBC. In addition to the ubiquitous Music While You Work and Morning Music, there were Brass and Military Bands, Theatre Organs, Palm Court and Old Time Dance Orchestrasand much more besides. One particular favourite whichsprings to mind was Melody Hour on Sunday afternoons,which featured, inter-alia, the orchestras of Robert Farnon,George Melachrino and Peter Yorke.
The BBC was limited in the amount of recorded music which it was permitted to broadcast. It became, almost certainly, the largest employer of musicians in the world;theywere needed to staff the Corporation’s many house orchestras. It was a Golden Age as far as Light Music was concerned. All of this came to an end during the late 60s, when the BBC replaced theold Light Programme with Radios 1 & 2, and reached an agreement with the Musicians’ Union to permit almost unlimited ‘needle time’. The heyday of live music broadcasting was regrettably over.
Overa short period of time, most of the Corporation’s house orchestras weredisbanded, and less and less Light Music was to be heard onthe airwaves. The situation wasn’t helped by a serious lack of availablecommercially recorded material, which wouldnot improveuntil the advent of CDs in the late 80s.
At the end of the latter decade, I (almost accidently)discovered the Robert Farnon Society ! I had previously noidea that anyone else in the entire world was remotelyinterested in this kind of musical fare, and yet here was a ready-made body of fellow enthusiasts. I quickly becameinvolved, firstly by providing technical facilities at the Londonmeetings, and then by chairing the committee charged witharranging those meetings. Over the years, I have beenextremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to meetmany luminaries from the fields of Light and Film Music – including Clive Richardson, Trevor Duncan, Angela Morley, Ron Goodwin, Stanley Black, Sir Vivian Dunn, Ernest Tomlinson, Philip Lane, David Snell, John Wilson, Gavin Sutherland, Ian Sutherland, Debbie Wiseman, John Fox, Nigel Hess, Brian Kay and of course, the guv’nor himself – Bob Farnon, together with his son David. I was privileged to attend a couple of Bob’s recording sessions at CTS Studios Wembley, and Watford Coliseum.
I have also met and become friends with some wonderful fellow members of the Society, and have corresponded with other enthusiasts in Canada, the US, Australia and Europe. I owe the RFS an incalculable debt of gratitude and although it is greatly saddening to witness the demise in its present form, it is heartening to look back over these past 24 years, during which time the Society has become an essential component of my life. I realise just how lucky I am to have been involved in it.
Thank you, the Robert Farnon Society.
FOND MEMORIES OF THE ROBERT FARNON SOCIETY
By Forrest Patten
When David Ades recently made an appeal for RFS tribute articles to be included in the final printed edition of J.I.M., there were almost too many thoughts and emotions to personally process. When one has to say goodbye to something that has meant so much and has been such an important part of your life, trying to express one’s inner thoughts can be a bit overwhelming. It also forces one to think back and to review when they first heard the music of Robert Farnon; how they felt when listening to his wide variety of compositions; and what effect it would have on you musically during the ensuing years.
For me, discovering who Robert Farnon actually was turned out to be a rather interesting journey in itself. Like so many of us, we became familiar with his music long before we knew who actually created it. Thanks to the prolific output of Chappell recordings utilized by San Francisco bay area television stations (starting in the 1950s), selections like Jumping Bean, Poodle Parade, Willie The Whistler, Yankee Patrol, High Street and Gateway To The West were used as themes or signature tunes for a number of local programs. My musical curiosity regarding those pieces started very early (at the ripe old age of three!)
Trying to obtain information on this music was, at that time, almost an impossibility. When my Mom or Dad would contact the station to inquire about a specific piece, they were given the all-too-familiar response "It was taken from a special recording produced for broadcast purposes only and is not available to the general public." Very frustrating, to say the least! The melodies would stay in my memory for years to come, yet I had no idea what the actual titles were or who the composer was.
It’s now the early 1970s. I’m now a Broadcast Communications major at San Francisco State University. I still have a strong interest in music for media. Several interesting events unfolded at that time. The first involved a call from the Promotion Director of one of our local television stations informing me that their ownership was changing and that they would be dumping their in-house music library. He wanted to know if I’d be interested in any of the recordings?
I told him I would and, thanks to that event, I was able to obtain some of the very early Capitol and Cinemusic library discs. There was also a binder that contained a list of the station’s locally-produced programs and the names of the theme pieces used for each show. I recalled a game show called Quiz Down. It had a rather pleasant and bouncy theme that I really liked. I was now able to identify a theme title. It was called Jumpig Bean and was listed as a Chappell recording. Another program whose theme I enjoyed was Dialing For Dollars. The binder listed this theme piece as Quatre Vocalises from a TCR/Chappell release. At this point, I was bound and determined to find out who and what Chappell Music was all about!
About a week or so later, I was visiting The Record House, one of San Francisco’s first used and collectors’ record shops. While browsing through a bin of albums marked 25 cents each, I came across a London compilation disc entitled Rhythm And Romance. It featured several tracks by Mantovani and Frank Chacksfield. There were two other conductors on the album that I was not familiar with: Ted Heath and Robert Farnon. On the back of the cover was listed a discography for each artist. While reviewing the output of Robert Farnon, I noticed one recording listed as Melody Fair. Track number two on this LP was Jumping Bean. Could this possibly be the same piece I was trying to track down? And if it was, what did this London recording have to do with Chappell?
Doing some further research, I discovered that Chappell Music was, in reality, a publishing company and that the recorded music division was based in London. I decided to try and contact Robert Farnon through the Chappell London office. To my pleasant surprise, within a few weeks, I received a personal reply from Bob himself!’ I also received several Chappell recorded music catalogs from John Parry. He explained how I could obtain specific recordings from Chappell’s then U.S. distributor MusicCues in New York. To sample the material, I initially ordered several discs from the Chappell Index Series (CIS) which included Light Atmospheres, Children’s Music and Comedy Music. Those LPs alone proved to be a true treasure trove of musical discoveries. At last, I could finally put titles and composers together for so many pieces I remembered (and had wondered about) throughout the years.
In his letter, Bob mentioned that a Robert Farnon Appreciation Society existed in the U.K. and he would pass my name along to its Secretary, David Ades. Shortly thereafter, I heard from David and decided to join the RFAS (as it was then known) immediately. Admittedly, one of the initial attractions to the Society was the Deleted Record Service. By the time I had finally discovered who Robert Farnon was, it was too late to obtain many of his commercial recordings as they were, by that time, out of print. Thankfully, I now had an opportunity to find and to purchase so many of Bob’s recorded gems!
Besides the Deleted Record Service, another wonderful benefit of joining the Society has been the wealth of written material contributed to each edition of Journal Into Melody. Not only has it provided a complete and thorough survey of Light Music in general, but it has also showcased the many artists that Bob has worked with throughout his prolific career. Luminaries like Tony Bennett, Dizzy Gillespie, Gene Puerling, John Williams, Henri Rene, Jack Shaindlin, Roger Williams and, more recently, Frank Comstock, Van Alexander, Neal Hefti, Bob Bain, Uan Rasey and Pete Candoli have shared their mutual admiration to Bob while granting exclusive interviews for the Society and J.I.M. Although not specifically interviewed, I had the good fortune to meet with Henry Mancini, Andre Previn, Angela Morley, Gene Lees, Roger Kellaway, George Shearing and Pia Zadora who expressed their personal appreciation to Bob, as well.
I finally got to meet Bob Farnon in person in 1980 at the Orpheum Theater in Vancouver, B.C. (where he was conducting the Vancouver Symphony as a part of their Pops Concert series). This was followed by get-togethers in Miami, Ottawa and two London RFS meetings. My friendship with Bob also opened the door to a treasured association with Brian Farnon, Bob’s older brother. I will always remember Brian’s strong appreciation and support for Bob’s and Denny’s (younger brother Dennis Farnon) musical talents. His comments were always sincere and from the heart. No feelings of sibling rivalry here. Like Bob, I miss Brian very much.
And then there were the two London meetings Nancy and I attended in the 1990s. These were to become true highlights of our RFS experience. The music and the setting was always "first cabin." But for us, it was the people who made it extra special. Besides Bob (who attended both meetings), where else could one rub elbows with the likes of Sir Vivian Dunn, Ron Goodwin and Clive Richardson? I will always appreciate the warmth and kindness of so many RFS members: Don and Joyce Furnell (they are sorely missed); Cab and Jeanette Smith (loved those "swing sessions"); Peter Simpson (thanks for those wonderful BBC tours); Robert Walton (thanks for your sharing your thoughts regarding Kenneth McKellar and Moira Anderson); David Mardon (thanks for your extensive knowledge of the production music libraries); and Tony Clayden (I’ll help pull cables for you anytime I’m in town!)
I would like to offer a very special thanks to David, Moira and Fenella for offering their home, meals, transportation, sightseeing excursions and providing general arrangements for us on both trips over. Your generosity provided so much ease and comfort and will always be deeply appreciated. You truly are a part of our family and are cherished beyond words.
As the present for of the Robert Farnon Society winds down, all of us need to ask the question as to what we can do to perpetuate Bob’s music and future legacy. Through our various channels, we certainly have an opportunity for promotion with Bob’s upcoming centenary celebration in 2017. It’s not too early to contact conductors and/or programmers of local symphony orchestras. The majority of Bob’s orchestral scores are available for rent from Chappell’s.
Classical radio stations are another avenue. Many stations will already have CD releases from Guild, Naxos/Marco Polo, Vocalion, Hyperion, ASV and Chandos. Ideally, if one has the financial means, consider buying time and sponsoring an hour or two of a Robert Farnon musical tribute. Many classical radio stations would be very appreciative of a monetary donation as so many have become "non-commercial: entities. Just make sure that the station doesn’t schedule such a program in the middle of the night. At the same time, make sure that the radio station will also provide ample promotion! For those involved with film, television, radio or internet productions, consider using a Bob Farnon track as "source music" for an upcoming production. There’s a lot of great choices in the Chappell catalog.
In closing, a couple of final thoughts. First of all, RFS members are a very special group of people. We were all brought together because we all shared a common love and appreciation for Robert Farnon and for Light Music in general. And isn’t it nice to know that so many members (from around the world) have this common musical interest? Too many times it would be easy to feel somewhat isolated because, it seems, that not many others accept or actually enjoy light music per se. The population (and the major recording companies) have pigeon-holed our music as passé and generational. Quality never goes out of style. It’s time for the world to slow down, listen, feel the emotion and to re-connect to the music.
My deepest appreciation and heartfelt thanks to all of you. Long live the RFS!
PHILIP BRADY RECALLS A MEMORABLE VISIT TO THE RFS
It’s April 1993. I fly all the way from Australia to proudly attend my first (and only) Robert Farnon Society meeting at the (then) Bonnington Hotel.
Famed former leader of the Royal Marine’s Band, Sir Vivian Dunn, is telling a delicious story. At the Royal Premiere of the film Cockleshell Heroes" – for which he wrote the score – one invited guest, who doesn’t recognise Sir Vivian, tells him: "we loved the movie, but hated the music. That awful march! Who was responsible for that vile noise?" To which he replies; "I was!"
What a joyful weekend in company with our cherished Robert Farnon, Sir Vivian, Ron Goodwin and that giant of a man in every way, Clive Richardson.
Hats off to, and three cheers for, our esteemed ‘leader’ David Ades. Well done, faithful servant, for spreading the word about our kind of music – not only after 50 years dedicated to promoting the Robert Farnon Society, but also the wondrous series of Guild Light Music CDs. Your amazing knowledge of British composers, and your exposure in the media to share the news which 1,000 of us RFS members have always known. Light Orchestral Gems and, for me in particular, library theme music, is as close to a heavenly experience as is humanly possible!
I will be sorry to miss our magazine, especially the Keeping Track pages which have greatly enhanced my CD collection.
May the Robert Farnon Society continue to flourish in this internet age, and thanks to all who have contributed to Journal Into Melody over the years for the joy it has brought me. I would always read it in one sitting, which meant staying up half the night to relish its contents!
MY MEMORIES OF THE ROBERT FARNON SOCIETY
BY TONY FOSTER
I first became aware of the music of Robert Farnon, through my late mother, Edna, who had liked and enjoyed Bob’s music from when she first heard it broadcast on the radio, or wireless as it was in those days, during the war years.
The first time that I became aware of Bob’s music was on seeing the record sleeve cover of the ‘Canadian Impressions’ recording, as Mum had this on at the time. As a teenager, who had been brought up to appreciate quality music, I remember listening to the pieces and asking Mum about Robert Farnon, and why she liked his music so much. She replied that it was because she had felt it was different, and so very descriptive which, of course, it is.
A particular favourite of Mum’s, was Bob’s Sophistication Waltz, as she told me that it reminded her of the nights when she attended the wartime dances at Birmingham Town Hall, dancing to the bands of the day, then going home before the air raids started! Bob’s ‘Canadian Impressions’ recording has remained a firm favourite of mine since my teenage years!
Mum had joined the Society in the 1970s and had told me that, had she known about it earlier on, she would have joined sooner than she did.
I have been a Member for 14 years, first accompanying Mum until her passing in 2005, and I have continued attending meetings ever since. It has become a way of life for me and something I have looked forward to twice a year.
Meetings I have found the most memorable, have been the ones when the following composers and musicians have been Guest Speakers: Angela Morley, David Snell, Nigel Hess, Debbie Wiseman and Ernest Tomlinson. I have always enjoyed each meeting equally, and a particular favourite presentation has always been Cab Smith’s Swing Sessions - much missed at recent meetings. I also really enjoyed Phillip Farlow’s presentations on Alan Dell as I remember listening to his programmes on Radio 2. Big Bands and Sounds Easy were a must for me and I learnt so much from Alan about the big bands, and of course Light Music.
One of the most memorable meetings was the celebration for Bob’s 80th Birthday on Sunday 27th July 1997 with so many musical guests who all spoke so highly of Bob and of course the celebration Dinner afterwards.
I can’t really name a favourite piece of music as there are so many of Bob’s compositions that I enjoy equally. My favourite piece of film music which he wrote has to be ‘Captain Horatio Hornblower’ also the ‘Colditz’ theme and ‘Secret Army’. Also ‘Bear Island’ as the music alone is quite dramatic and has you on the edge of your seat!
Out of the CDs I enjoy the most is ‘Showcase for Soloists’; this recording is a firm favourite especially the trumpets of Kenny Baker and Stan Roderick and trombones of Don Lusher and Bobby Lamb.
Bob’s descriptive pieces I enjoy include Proud Canvas, Scenic Grandeur, Lake of The Woods and the Lady Barbara theme from ‘Captain Hornblower’.
Then there is the wonderful magazine Journal Into Melody, which is an encyclopaedia of information covering all aspects of Light Music. The particular features which I have enjoyed reading include Paul Clatworthy’s Big Band Roundup, Keeping Track, and the various profiles on other Light Music composers. I always enjoy reading the reports on the meetings, a reminder of enjoyable times spent in the company of like-minded enthusiasts wallowing in our kind of music which our society has done so much to preserve.
by Philip L Scowcroft
My interest in music, not just light music but across the board, dates from around 1948 when I was about 15. Before then I had had (ineffective) piano lessons, had sung in my school choir and had cultivated interests in particular musical areas; for example I saw my first G & S ("The Mikado") in 1942, followed by "The Gondoliers" in 1945.
But in 1948 and for years after the BBC's airwaves were choc-a-bloc with light music and I absorbed plenty of it, finding it a stepping-stone to an appreciation of more "serious" music. "Morning Music", which featured many different orchestras, among them Louis Voss' Kursaal Orchestra and several BBC staff orchestras, livened my breakfast preparatory to setting off by tramcar to school on the other side of Sheffield. Other fondly remembered programmes came on Sunday evenings, "Grand Hotel" and a regular concert by the BBC Theatre Orchestra.
The winter of 1948-49 brought riches indeed. I sampled the fare of the BBC's Light Music Festival of a week astride the opening of April and a fortnight's worth of concerts at Torquay Pavilion by the town's Municipal Orchestra whilst in that Devon resort during the Easter holiday, thereby catching some of the latter days of the Torquay Orchestra; it disbanded in 1952 as did so many of its kind about that time. Its programme included a Sunday evening Celebrity Concert and, every Tuesday afternoon a concert by a two-thirds size "light music section". Repertoire during that well-remembered fortnight mixed light music with popular classics as was then quite common. It even happened in the concerts of the Sheffield Philharmonic Society at the City Hall with growing frequency from December 1948 up to perhaps the early sixties - a 1953 concert was entitled "Masterpieces of British Light Music", part conducted by Eric Coates in his own music and conducted by George Weldon also including Di Ballo by Sullivan, some Edward German dances, two Percy Grainger miniatures and Haydn Wood's Variations on a Once Popular Humorous Song. Few "serious" concert organisations would risk that kind of programme now!
In the fifties I still caught light music on the radio like the Festival Hall light music festivals (the 1949 LMF mentioned above was purely a studio event). During the 1960s my preferred holiday destination was Scarborough, whose Spa Orchestra was very much alive (as it is still in 2013, now over 100 years old) with, then, Max Jaffa, assisted by Jack Byfield, at the helm.
Light music was by then in decline on the BBC, but I found light music outlets, joining Stuart Upton's Vintage Light Music Society, the Sir Arthur Sullivan Society, which concentrated both on G & S and Sullivan's "other" music, and the British Music Society, many of my writings for which have had a light music flavour. Many of the latter arose directly from my discovery, about six years after joining the Dorothy L Sayers Society in 1980, that its Chairman, Barbara Reynolds, was the daughter of theatre composer/conductor Alfred Reynolds. Barbara had luckily kept much of her father's music and memorabilia about his life. She made these available to me so I could write about him and persuade musicians to revive his work in concerts including those I organise here in Doncaster. After a visit to hear one of these revivals, Barbara said to me, "You have done wonders for my father's music. Why not do the same for his light music contemporaries?"
I eagerly took up a congenial, if laborious, task and articles, mainly for the BMS, were churned out, on individual composers and - as I did not know much about most of them! - groups of them linked in "Garlands". As I write this, in August 2013, there are 1,273 Garlands (and counting), a few of them for the BMS Newsletter, but mostly for the Musicweb site. The Garlands led in turn to a commission from Thames Publishing to write British Light Music: A Personal Gallery of 20th Century Composers, published eventually in 1997 and sold out within a year or so. The discovery of literally thousands of light music composers since has made a second edition (as against a reprint) impracticable, but in 2013 a reprint, with (a very few) updates and corrections, has appeared from Dance Books of Binsted, Hampshire.
The book led to further contacts. Actually in 1997 I joined both the Robert Farnon Society and - at least partly in gratitude to Ernest Tomlinson's fine Foreword to the book - the Light Music Society. I have enjoyed attending gatherings of both Societies and writing for their respective publications: 420 articles and reviews for the LMS, 138 for JIM. Soon after joining these Societies I was invited to write fifteen articles on light music "greats" for The New Grove (2001 edition) something of which I am particularly proud, plus others for its German counterpart, MGG.
I am also glad to have written articles on many almost forgotten light music figures. Alfred Reynolds was followed by Horace Dann, Helen Perkin, Wilhelm Meyer Lutz, Sidney Jones, Désirée MacEwen and Raie da Costa to name a few. My own lunchtime concerts at Doncaster Museum (1286 to September 2013 with dozens more scheduled already) have flown the flag for music, often light music, among them there have been three by LMS Chairman Gavin Sutherland and one by the distinguished pianist Benjamin Frith, who a few years ago I asked to give a recital of "Masterpieces of Briitsh Light Music for Piano" and he came up with John Field, Malcolm Arnold, Arthur Bliss, Reginald King and Eric Coates. The Coates was a piano version of The Three Bears. Shortly before the recital was given Frith met John Wilson at a concert and told him he was doing that; John said, "The Three Bears is orchestral music, not piano music, you can't do that". Soon afterwards I myself saw John and said that, piano music or not, The Three Bears had gone so well it could have been written for piano. John, unperturbed, replied, "Ben Frith is such a fine pianist that he would make anything sound right!"
I could go on but this is already a self indulgence. I will only say that I am grateful to a host of light music composers, executants and enthusiasts for the pleasure they have given me. If my own enthusiasm has assisted, however little, in the present revival of light music, I am well content.
This article appeared in the December 2013 issue of Journal Into Melody
I Still Recall Spending A Magical Twenty Minutes Chatting With Robert Farnon
Says BRIAN JOHNSTONE
I have been so used to the drop of Journal Into Melody on the mat, that its demise is sad, but can it be perpetuated by the internet?
Although the first orchestras I heard were George Melachrino and Sidney Torch, I eventually went to the Classical Camp. A later starter on the violin at 14½, Karajan, Klemperer became my bill of fare as a teenager with the Philharmonia. As a R.A.M. student the whole pageant of classical music flashed before me.
But I had not forgotten the Light Music I listened to so carefully on the BBC from when I was about eight: Ivor Novello, going on to Frederic Curzon and Ernest Tomlinson.
When I became a freelance in 1960 in London, my first date was with Eartha Kitt at the Café de Paris, Mozart Requiem at Putney Church, and leading the Stock Exchange Orchestra in rehearsal on the floor of the old Lonbdon Stock Exchange.
Two dates came in with Robert Farnon. I immediately loved his music and the man. However I joined the Bournemouth Symphony with Constantin Silvestri. He was so different and challenging, quite unlike Boult, Barbirolli, Wyn Morris, Norman del Mar, etc.
In the mid-1970s the Bournemouth Symphony played the opening concert at the Bournemouth International Centre with four visiting conductors including Robert Farnon. I was amazed no one seemed to be talking to him; perhaps didn’t know him. I sat down and had a wonderful 20 minutes one to one talk with Bob.
By that time I was in the Bournemouth Sinfonietta, which before its axing in 1999 did several Light Music concerts with Ronald Corp, and another with a Romanian Nicolae Moldoveanu, who had a wonderful feel for British Light Music; these concerts were very memorable.
I have read and re-read JIM for the last 20 years or more - so interesting and packed with information. In all my years of Classical playing I often warmed up before going on with Bob’s Goodwood Galop, before, say, a Beethoven Symphony!
Thank-you David. A sad farewell to JIM.
This article appeared in Journal Into Melody, December 2013.
Gareth Bramley is a Film Music expert, and this is the ninth and last in a series of articles exploring the Filmharmonic Concerts that were once a popular and regular feature of London’s music scene
FILMHARMONIC— THE FINAL YEARS
1978-1980 & 1985 Royal Albert Hall, London
By GARETH BRAMLEY
The 9th Festival of Film & Television Music took place on Saturday 28th October, with a new orchestra, The London Philharmonic, led by David Nolan. The programme was introduced by Sir John Mills and the conductors were Marvin Hamlisch; Lionel Newman; and John(ny) Patrick.
The overture ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business’ composed by Irving Berlin and arranged specially for the concert by John Gregory, conducted by Don Innes; was quickly followed by a feast of Television themes arranged and conducted by ATV’s Musical Director, Johnny Patrick, who had worked for ATV Birmingham (later Central) on much of their programming including ‘Golden Shot’; ‘New Faces’; ‘Tiswas’ and ‘Bullseye’. ‘Cops and Robbers’ was split into two ‘Dossiers’ profiling some of the greatest composers of television music at that time including Laurie Johnson; Mark Snow; Billy Goldenberg; John Cacavas; Mike Post; Lalo Schifrin; Mort Stevens and Henry Mancini.
Dossier 1: Dragnet / Sweeney / Cannon / Professionals / McCloud / New Avengers / Starsky & Hutch / Kojak
Dossier 2: Rockford Files / Streets of San Francisco / Hunter’s Walk / Petrocelli / Police Woman / Mystery Movie
Before the interval Lionel Newman (1916-1989) conducted ’50 Years of Film Music from 20th Century Fox’ including music by Harry Warren; Burt Bacharach and his brother Alfred. Lionel received 11 Oscar nominations, finally winning the award in 1970 for ‘Hello Dolly’. The selections, containing over twenty themes, featured the Ambrosian Singers:
Adventure – Tyrone Power / If I Had a Talking Picture of You / The Legendary Al Newman /Gentlemen Prefer... Those Inimitable Fox Blondes / Main Title
Part Two featured the music of Marvin Hamlisch (1944-2012) who had then recently scored the James Bond film ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’. During his illustrious career he won a Grammy for ‘The Way We Were’ in 1975; Golden Globes for ‘Kotch’ in 1972; and again in 1974 for ‘The Way We Were’ - which also won 3 Oscars the same year - in addition to numerous other nominations. The selections for ‘Nobody Does It Better – The Past, Present and Future Music of Marvin Hamlisch’ were conducted by Alyn Ainsworth (1924-1990).
‘The Way We Were’ featured a suite from the film, whilst ‘Nobody Does It Better’ highlighted the hit song from the aforementioned Bond Film. ‘Not Only But Also’ included themes from Scott Joplin’s music from ‘The Sting’ adapted by Hamlisch. ‘Coming Shortly’ concentrated on two new films – ‘Same Time Next Year’ (1978) and ‘Ice Castles’ (1979); with the final selection ‘And the Big One for 1980’ being a suite from ‘A Chorus Line’ due for release in 1980.
Sadly this concert was never commercially recorded though a shortened version, filmed by LWT, went out at 11pm on 12th November 1978.
27th October 1979 was the Filmharmonic’s 10th anniversary - celebrating the film and television music of Pinewood Studios, compered by Christopher Reeve. The orchestra this time was The National Philharmonic led by Sidney Sax and guest conductors were Alyn Ainsworth; Stanley Black; Ed Welch and Barry Gray who had scored all of Gerry Anderson’s TV series. The concert had been tinged with sadness as conductor Nino Rota had died suddenly a few weeks before; and days after finalising his music from Pinewood, which he was to conduct.
Gray composed the fanfare for the evening – ‘The Magical Musical Mansion’ played by the Trumpeters of the Coldstream Guards conducted by John Patrick. Ed Welch (b. 1947) is perhaps best known for his themes to the Central TV series ‘Blockbusters’; ‘The Shillingbury Tales’; ‘One Foot In the Grave’; the 1978 film ’39 Steps’ and more recently the TV mini-series ‘Thomas & Friends’. Accompanied by pianist Christopher Headington he began the programme with John Addison’s Overture from ‘Reach For the Sky’ and then a medley of themes which he had arranged under the title ‘Boats and Trains, Cars and Planes’ featuring Nino Rota’s ‘Death On the Nile’; Jerry Goldsmith’s ‘First Great Train Robbery’; Larry Adler’s ‘Genevieve’; and William Walton’s ‘Battle In the Air’ from ‘The Battle of Britain’.
After ‘Classic Film, Classic Score’ - Arnold Bax’s theme from the 1947 film ‘Oliver Twist’ - Welch played a medley he had arranged - ‘Pinewood’s Golden Age’ - encompassing the themes from ‘So Long At The Fair’ (Benjamin Frankel); ‘Whistle Down the Wind’ by Malcolm Arnold; William Alwyn’s ‘The Card’; and Richard Addinsell’s ‘A Tale of Two Cities’.
His penultimate medley ‘Pinewood Music ‘79’ included ‘The Riddle of the Sands’ (Howard Blake); ‘Arabian Adventure’ (Ken Thorne); and Richard Hartley and Les Reed’s ‘The Lady Vanishes’. The finale (‘The Composer Conducts’) was his own theme from the aforementioned ‘The 39 Steps’.
Alyn Ainsworth took over the baton to conduct ‘Two Magical Musicals’ with music by brothers Richard and Robert Sherman –‘The Slipper & the Rose’ (‘Positioning & Positioning’) (arranged by Angela Morley) and the self-arranged ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ (Truly Scrumptious’ / Me Ol’ Bamboo’ / ‘Hushabye Mountain’ / ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’).
Singer Billy Daniels (1915-1988) then sang four songs from the Pinewood Song Book:
‘This Is My Song’ from ‘The Countess From Hong Kong’ (Charles Chaplin); Rod McKuen’s ‘Jean’ from ‘The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie’; and Paul William’s ‘Bugsy Malone’. The final selection was the John Barry and Hal David song ‘We Have All the Time In the World’ from the film ‘Oh Her Majesty’s Secret Service’. Ainsworth arranged all titles.
After the interval maestro Barry Gray (1908-1984) took to the podium to conduct a suite of his own music under the title ‘Pinewood In Space’:
‘Main Title’ / ‘A Matter of Life and Death’ from ‘Space 1999’
‘Main Title’ / ‘Sleeping Astronauts In Space’ from ‘Doppelganger’ (aka ‘Journey To the Far Side of the Sun’)
‘Main Title (TV Series )’ / Thunderbirds 6 / Thunderbirds March
The final conductor for the evening was Stanley Black (1913-2002) who had composed the music for over 200 films throughout his career. First was John William’s ‘Superman’ followed by Brian Easdale’s ‘The Red Shoes’; and ‘The Norman Jewison Connection’ with four of the producer / director’s film themes. The first was a medley arranged by Henry Mancini from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Jesus Christ, Superstar (‘Superstar’ / ‘Everything’s Alright’ / King Herod’s Song’ / I Don’t Know How To Love Him’); Bill Conti’s main title theme from ‘F.I.S.T.’; Bach’s ‘Toccata In D Minor’ (with solo organist Leslie Pearson) from ‘Rollerball’ and Jerry Bock’s ‘Tradition’ / ‘The Wedding Dance’ from ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ arranged by Black himself.
The final selections were from one of Pinewood’s biggest franchises: ‘007 – The Man’s Most Famous Resident’ featured Black’s own arrangements for ‘The James Bond Theme’ from ‘Dr.No’ (Monty Norman); ‘Thunderball’ (John Barry); Lionel Bart’s ‘From Russia With Love’; and another John Barry composition, ‘Goldfinger’.
The capacity crowd of 5000 earned the CTBF a record profit of £30,000; but, frustratingly, this concert - perhaps one for the best so far - was not filmed by LWT because of a strike at the time. However, a studio album (The Rank Concert Orchestra Play Pre-Recorded Musical Highlights from Filmharmonic ‘79’) was produced by Ed Welch and released on United Artists in advance of the concert. It was recorded at CTS, London under the careful guidance of John Richards and contained the themes italicised above.
Filmharmonic’s Concert on 18th October 1980, celebrated the films of United Artists and the first 25 years of Independent Television, and was introduced by Donald Sinden and Elaine Stritch. This time The National Philharmonic Orchestra (again led by Sidney Sax) was conducted by John Addison; Richard Leonard; Geoff Love; and John Williams. Three of these were making welcome returns to Filmharmonic.
Johnny Patrick, who had conducted in 1978, introduced compeer Elaine Stritch by conducting ‘Take 10 Terrific Girls’ from ‘The Night They Raided Minksy’s’. Richard Leonard conducted Part 1 of ’50 Years of Outstanding Movie Music’ featuring themes by Victor Young; Lennon & McCartney; Charles Chaplin; Charles Williams; Manos Hadjidakis and others. The first sequence ‘Around the World In 80 Days’ included four themes from the film arranged by Stanley Black and ‘Great Songs – United Artists Style’ four themes arranged for Filmharmonic ’80 by Barry Gray. These were: ‘That Old Feeling’ from ‘Vogues of 1938’; ‘Makin’ Whoopie’ from ‘Whoopie’; ‘Never On Sunday’; and ‘September Song’ from ‘Knickerbocker Holiday’.
Leonard played Charles Williams’ theme from ‘The Apartment’ on piano followed by Black’s superb arrangement of ‘Stagecoach’. His own arrangement of ‘Ticket To Ride’ from ‘Help!; and ‘A Hard day’s Night’ followed. ‘Smile! – The Music of Sir Charles Chaplin’ featured a medley from his films specially arranged by Michel Villard with Sidney Sax on violin.
The silver anniversary of Independent Television was introduced by Donald Sinden and conducted by Geoff Love (who had appeared at the 1973 concert) with 25 of the best themes from TV; split into four medleys arranged by Cecil Boulton. ‘Early Days – 50s and 60s’ included ‘Sunday Night At the London Palladium’; ‘The Avengers’; ‘Opportunity Knocks’; ‘’This Is Your Life’; ‘Danger Man’; and ‘World Of Sport’ The second selection ‘The Soap Operas – Three ITV Long Runners’ featured ‘Crossroads’; ‘Emmerdale Farm’; and ‘Coronation Street’.
‘Period Pieces’ included ‘Enemy At the Door’; ‘Lillie’; ‘South Riding’; ‘Kidnapped’; ‘Edward & Mrs. Simpson’; and ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’; and the final selection – ‘Music of the 70s – ITV Style’ featured: ‘Bless This House’; ‘Seven Faces Of Woman’ from ‘She’; ‘Tales Of the Unexpected’; ‘The Muppets; ‘Within These Walls’; ‘Worzel Gummidge’; ‘Bouquet Of Barbed Wire’; ‘Department S’; Adventures of Black Beauty’ ending with ‘Into the 80s’ (the theme from ‘Hollywood’). Composers included Laurie Johnson; Robert Sharples; Edwin Astley; Tony Hatch; Eric Spear; Ron Grainer; Alexander Faris; Geoff Love; Denis King; Denis Farnon; and Carl Davis.
John Patrick commenced Part 2 with the ‘March’ and ‘Love Theme’ Richard Rodney Bennett’s ‘Yanks’, before John Addison – who had played at the 1977 Concert – resumed with Part 2 of ’50 Years of outstanding Movie Music’. This featured his own themes from ‘The Honey Pot’; ‘The Girl With the Green Eyes’; three themes from ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’; ‘Tom Jones’; and Ernest Gold’s ‘Exodus’ – arranged by Stanley Black with piano solo by Richard Leonard – and Franz Waxman’s ‘Rebecca’.
The final composer - John Williams - who had appeared in 1976, played the following self-composed themes:
‘Close Encounters Of the Third Kind’ / ‘Jaws 2’ / ‘Love Theme from Superman’ / ‘Dracula’ / ‘Swing, Swing, Swing’ from ‘1941’ / ‘Star Wars – The Empire Strikes Back’ / ‘Yoda’s Theme – The Imperial March’.
The concert sported a finale by John Patrick.
Highlights of the concert, filmed by LWT, were shown on 26th October 1980 at 11.30pm. Whilst no commercial recording was issued, the CTBF did release a (mail order only) album containing some of the TV Themes previously issued - ’25 Years of ITV – Great Theme Music From Popular ITV Series - Filmharmonic ’80’ included ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’; ‘Bouquet Of Barbed Wire’; ‘I’ve Danced with a Man’ from ‘Edward & Mrs. Simpson’; ‘Black Beauty’; ‘She’ from ‘Seven Faces Of Woman’; ‘Danger Man’; ‘Lillie’; ‘Tales of the Unexpected’; ‘Coronation Street’; ‘Song of Freedom’ from ‘Enemy At the Door’; ‘Department S’; and ‘Within These Walls’
Whilst a 1981 concert was advertised and scheduled to include Carl Davis; repeat appearances by David Rose and Jerry Goldsmith, this did not materialise due the changing financial climate and the high cost of the orchestra.
However, in 1985, Filmharmonic was back for a one-off event to coincide with British Film Year, celebrating Elstree Studios and Thorn EMI Screen Entertainment. This concert had come about from an earlier remark from John Williams who said he would make himself available if Filmharmonic should ever return; combined with enthusiasm from a change of management at the Royal Albert Hall. Sir Richard Attenborough was again on board as compeer with the London Symphony Orchestra (leader Michael Davis).
John Gregory, who had orchestrated and arranged music for the 1977 concert, joined Williams; and John Scott (b.1930) made his first appearance to conduct the premiere of a suite from his awesome score for ‘Greystoke’. Stanley Black, The Stephen Hill singers and Gemma Craven completed the line-up.
Gregory’s ‘Fanfare For Filmharmonic’ opened the show followed by his own arrangement of Eric Coates’ ‘Dambusters’ played by the Fanfare Trumpeters of the Central Band of the Royal Air Force. Attenborough introduced John Gregory, who conducted a self-arranged suite with The Stephen Hill Singers: ‘Laughter and Music and Stars That Shine’ – a series of British musicals from the 30s - including music from ‘Hearts Desire’; ‘Glamorous Night’; ‘Maid of the Mountains’; ‘Blossom Time’; and ‘Mr. Cinders’.
‘Firsts!’ included ‘Blackmail’ and ‘Tasty Heart’, followed by ‘Brighton Rock’ – all arranged by Gregory; and finally ‘Rail and Yellowbrick Road’ - two recent selections: Johnny Douglas’ charming themes from ‘The Railway Children’ (‘Perks Must Be About It’ and ‘Finale’); and David Shire’s ‘Ragtime March’ from ‘Return To Oz’.
John Scott took over the baton beginning with two themes for ‘This Year, Next Year’: Maurice Jarre’s ‘Adela’s Theme’ from ‘A Passage To India’; and ‘Paso Doble’; ‘Main Theme’; and ‘Election March’ from ‘Monsignor Quixote’ with guitarist Colin Downs.
The second medley was a selection of David Puttnam films arranged by Scott (‘The Puttnam Collection’): ‘Local Hero’; ‘ That’ll Be the Day’; ‘Midnight Express’; ‘Cal’; ‘The Killing Fields’; and ‘Chariots of Fire’.
‘Premiere Performance – Greystoke’ was a suite of seven themes, which Scott had specially arranged for the concert from the 1984 film ‘Greystoke – The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes’, and this concluded part one.
Despite Scott’s massive and influential contribution to film, television and library music since the mid sixties, he has, unbelievably, yet to win a major award. In the early sixties he played flute and saxophone for composers such as John Barry and Henry Mancini; and arranged and conducted many artists on the EMI roster.
Stanley Black took over the conducting duties for the 2nd part commencing with three of Bob Farnon’s themes for ‘Captain Horatio Hornblower RN’; followed by his arrangement of themes from Cliff Richard films (‘Cliff!’) – ‘Wonderful Life’; ‘Summer Holiday’; the title theme and his own ‘Mood Mambo’ from ‘The Young Ones.
Sadly, Television was poorly represented but Black did play Shostalovich’s theme used for Thames TV’s ‘Reilly, Aces Of Spies, which he arranged with Harry Rabinowitz. The final selection was Trevor Jones’ music from ‘The Dark Crystal’ (‘Jen and Kira’; ‘The Funerals’; ‘The Dark Crystal’). The latter featured synthesizers by Brian Gascoigne and David Lawson.
To conclude part one Gemma Craven sang three songs arranged by Pete Moore. These were: Paul McCartney’s ‘Silly Love Songs’ from ‘Give My Regards To Broad Street’; ‘Never Say Never Again’ from the James Bond film of the same name (Michael Legrand), with Black playing solo piano; and Jacques Morali’s ‘Can’t Stop the Music’.
John Williams opened part two with ‘Raiders March’ and ‘Marion’s Theme’ from ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’; followed by the first part of ‘The Star Wars Trilogy’ – ‘Parade of the Ewoks’; ‘Luke and Leia’; and ‘Battle In the Forest’ from ‘Return of the Jedi’.
Pianist Margaret Fingerhut played piano on the ensuing selections - Legrand’s theme from ‘The Go-Between’; Michael. J. Lewis’ ‘Baxter’ (specially arranged by Williams); and ‘The Mansell Concerto’ from ‘The Woman’s Angle’.
‘The Trilogy II – Unexpected Themes’ used more of Williams’ music from the Star Wars series: ‘The Asteroid Field’ from ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and the popular ‘Cantina Band’ from the first film ‘Star Wars’. ‘The Trilogy III’ ended the concert with the ‘End Title Music’ from ‘Star Wars’ – a score that the LSO had played on in 1976.
Due to the sheer cost involved the concert wasn’t filmed and no commercial recording was issued; though Capitol Radio, London did record it for broadcast at a later date.
Specialist musicians augmenting the orchestra for the above concerts were: Russ Stableford (fender bass) (78-80); Douglas Tate (harmonica) (78); Judd Proctor (guitar / guitar, banjo, mandolin) (78/80); Gerry Freeman (drums) (78); Derek Healey (trumpet) (78); Johnny Dean (drums) (79/80); and Les Thatcher (guitar, banjo) (79). For the final concert: Dick Abell (guitar); Bobby Orr (drums); Leslie Pearson (organ); and Dave Richmond on fender bass. Don Innes played piano on all four concerts.
This article first appeared in the December 2013 issue of Journal Into Melody.
Editor: I should like to thank Gareth Bramley for his comprehensive reports on the Filmharmonic concerts in this, and previous, issues of JIM. He has undertaken many hours of detailed research, thus ensuring that these important events in London’s musical life will not be forgotten.
EMI MATRIX CARDS
DETAILING EARLY PRODUCTION MUSIC RECORDINGS Alan Heinecke investigates ….
During the 1990s, the late record researcher Eddie Shaw spent many hours pouring over the National Sound Archive collection of microfilm reels containing images of EMI Special Recording Department matrix cards. Peter Copeland suggested these microfilm reels were made in the mid 1960s and contained images of EMI Special Recording Department matrix cards still in existence at that time. (Historic Record # 19, p 6).
These matrix cards showed the following recording dates for early CHAPPELL 78rpm discs:
C 105 to C 108 Saturday 11 April 1942
C 290 to C 296 Monday 23 December 1946
C 297 to C 304 Friday 7 March 1947
C 305 to C 312 Friday 21 March 1947
C 313 to C 316 Wednesday 21 May 1947
C 317 to C 320 Friday 27 June 1947
C 321 to C 324 Monday 30 June 1947
C 325 to C 328 Friday 22 August 1947
C 390 and C 391 Monday 1 January 1951
Of interest, is that four other CHAPPELL music tracks were recorded by EMI on 1 January 1951, namely, Comedian in Mayfair (EMI matrix CTP 16785, and renamed Canadian in Mayfair), Captain of the Guard (EMI matrix CTP 16788), Mantilla (EMI matrix CTP 16789) and Strings on Wings (EMI matrix CTP 16790). These four tracks were issued on CHAPPELL discs C 392 and C 393 from matrices made by Levy’s Sound Studios, and not from the matrices made by EMI.
A couple of the matrix cards dating from 1942 were rubber stamped "PASSED BY CENSOR", and showed little information about the particular recording.
Eddie noted CHAPPELL disc C 325 (matrix CTP 14983) was originally intended to be coupled with matrix CTP 14986, but this coupling was cancelled on 14 October 1947. This resulted in the single sided CHAPPELL disc C 325 being issued. The matrix card for CTP 14986 could not be located by Eddie.
The EMI matrix cards also indicated the first batch of tracks for the EMI Library of Background Music were recorded on 12 March 1947 (EP 1 to EP 4).
The first group of tracks for Francis, Day and Hunter’s MOOD MUSIC library were recorded on 29 October 1946.
If someone could publish some recording details from Levy’s Sound Studios (Historic Record # 31, p 17-20), precise dating of more of the early Production Music library discs could be undertaken.
This feature first appeared in the December 2013 issue of Journal Into Melody.
ALICE AND LIGHT MUSIC: A Summary
by Philip L Scowcroft
Lewis Carroll (1832-98) was, as Charles Luttridge Dodgson, a mathematician but remains celebrated for his Alice books, reckoned by many as children's literature though there is also a deeper message to be found in them.
Doubtless this "deeper message" was exploited in a series of "scenes and arias" from the Alice stories by David Walter del Tredici (1937-), sometime Professor of Music at Harvard, in a "tonal 12 note" idiom and very accessible. By my count there are eleven of these, many for amplified soprano and orchestra, but others for smaller ensembles; several are substantial, Vintage Alice (on the Mad Hatter's Tea Party) being timed at 28 minutes. In 1986 they were drawn on (in Canada) for a ballet.
Other American composers derived inspiration from Alice: Joseph Deems Taylor (1885-1966), composed an orchestral suite Through the Looking Glass; Edgar Stallman-Kelley (1857-1944) had his pantomime pictures Alice in Wonderland performed by the Bournemouth Municipal Orchestra in 1922; and Homer Simmons published for two pianos in 1940 a passacaglia The Duchess and a minuet The Gryphon and the Mock Turtle.
But two of the greatest of all British composers were asked to set Carroll. Sir Arthur Sullivan was the first with Carroll himself making the contact, proposing a staged setting of "Alice in Wonderland" including "two or three of the songs". Sullivan was not keen and was doubtful if such a project would get off the ground; one source suggests that Sullivan attempted to set some of the lyrics but was defeated by the unusual metre. More than twenty years later in January 1899, A J Jaeger ("Nimrod") of Novello's suggested to Elgar a mock-heroic cantata on The Jabberwock (from Through the Looking Glass). Elgar dismissed this as "unsaleable", though later he did briefly start to sketch Jabberwocky for voice and orchestra.
However, composers on both sides of the Atlantic managed to progress further than Sullivan and Elgar and a selection of their (and del Tredici's) pieces would make an attractive concert even if confined to orchestral and instrumental works. For example, Ronald Hamner's fantasy for brass band Alice in Wonderland appeared in 1974, Joseph Horovitz's Alice ballet (actually entitled Wonderful Scenes from Alice ) included a Waltz of the Flowers and Gardens and Lobster Quadrille. Alfred Reynolds (1884-1969) provided delicious incidental music of which more later. Music educationist, arranger and composer for young people Geoffry Russell-Smith penned two pieces for a trio of clarinets, Alice and the Mad Hatter. Philip Gates wrote an alto saxophone solo, March Hare, Nigel Ogden composed a White Rabbit Scherzo for organ, Stan Tracey a suite Alice in Jazz, Paul Paviour a suite for piano, Alice in Pianoland. Peter Cork's suite, Alice Through the Looking Glass and What She Found There has been recorded fairly recently, all twelve movements of it. Albert Ketèlbey composed a four movement piano suite, Alice in 1906 (before the days of In a Monastery Garden).
E Markham Lee, known for his piano pieces for children, published twelve movements (two sets of six) for piano duet, four hands one piano. And most recently (so far), Alice's Adventures Through Sound and Space for wind band was premiered in November 2012 by Sheffield University Wind Band; the music was by Sheffield undergraduate Tierney Kirby, a saxophonist in the Band. Most, perhaps all, of these orchestral and instrumental titles were on the lighter side of the musical spectrum.
We have seen that Carroll was anxious to have a staged (musical) version of "Alice" and it is time to examine some of those which have existed. First and in many ways the most successful, came during Carroll's lifetime. One H Savile Clark adapted "Alice in Wonderland" as a "dream play for children" and Walter Slaughter (1860-1908), a conductor for the London stage and a prolific, tuneful and accessible composer, was approached to do the music. It was first put on at the Prince of Wales Theatre for 57 matinées, starting December 1886, as a Christmas feature but was so popular that it lasted until March 1887. The Clark/Slaughter "Alice" was to have eighteen London revivals, at the Globe (1888-9), Opera Comique (1898-9), Vaudeville (38 performances 1900-01) and other London theatres for mainly Christmas seasons up to as late as 1934. The music was published and Slaughter's reputation burgeoned as he was invited to compose for several other children's musicals.
There was an attempt at the New Theatre (1903) to repeat its success with the "fairy play" "Alice Through the Looking Glass". The music, by Walter Tilbury, was less successful, though its football jokes and "impressions", interpolated to spice Carroll, fell flat. Yet it survived for sixty performances that winter and the score was published. More durable was "Florian Pascal's" "(Joseph Williams')" children's fairy operetta "In Wonderland" (1908) and several times revived including once in Doncaster by a young choir in 1946.
Staged "Alices" with music continued to appear. "Alice Up to Date", music by Philip Braham, appeared at the Pavilion Theatre in 1913. Incidental music for a play version was composed in 1933 by one H Cyphus. "Alice in Wonderland" (1932) and "Through the Looking Glass" (1943), both adapted by Clemence Dane, had music by Richard Addinsell, a composer well known to readers of JIM (some of Addinsell's songs, like Beautiful Soup, A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky and Father William were published). Graham Garton (1929- )wrote a musical "Alice". In 2001-02 the RSC put on Adrian Mitchell's new version of both "Alice" classics with incidental music by Stephen Warbeck and Terry Davies. Even more recently (2004) Carl Davis provided a score for a stage musical version of "Alice in Wonderland". But we must return to the earlier (1947) Christmas show at Stratford, again a combination of both "Alices", and to its delicious music by Alfred Reynolds with charming titles such as Ballet of Rabbits, Crawl of the Caterpillars, Dance of the Cards, Ballet of the Talking Flowers, Jabberwocky (with a part for swanee whistle), Parade of the King's Hobby Horses and March of the Drums. Two suites were extracted from this music; several of their movements were recorded some years ago by Marco Polo, the Royal Ballet Sinfonia being conducted by Gavin Sutherland. Away from "Alice", a stage version of Carroll's "The Hunting of the Snark" (1991) had songs by Mike Batt, but it did not achieve success.
However, I have still not done with musical stage adaptations. An operetta for amateurs, "Alice in Dreamland" was performed by Armthorpe [Doncaster] Evening Institute (March 1935) but the composer for this is unrecorded. A rock "Alice in Wonderland" appeared at the Intimate Theatre, Palmer's Green in 1976 (one wonders what Carroll would have made of that). The Collegiate Theatre's "Alice" (1980) had music by theatre conductor David Lowe. Wilfred Joseph's set "Through the Looking Glass" as a children's opera in twelve short scenes with a prologue and epilogue (1978). In the 1980s Stephen Scotchmer's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" was another children's adaptation; still another was David Aylott, "Alice, A Musical for Schools" (1994). "Alice", with "updated" music by Anthony Phillips, was produced at the Leeds Playhouse in 1984. James Leisy's "Alice A Musical Play" (based on both Alices and timed at 90 minutes), was published in 1981. The Korean composer Unsuk Chin was working on an Alice opera in August 2005; as a "trailer" five songs, entitled Snags and Snarls, received a first European performance at a BBC Prom in that month and impressed with their conciseness and sensitive, jewel-like orchestral accompaniment. I have alluded to the major "Alice" ballet version (1953, revived both on stage and TV) and its music by Joseph Horovitz; a fresh "Alice" ballet (1995) drew on Tchaikovsky's music. More recently "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" (2011) had music by Joby Talbot, much praised.
Songs setting lyrics by Carroll but primarily for the concert hall rather than the stage, have come from various composers. Maybe the earliest were by Liza Lehmann (1862-1918), Nine (actually ten) Nonsense Songs for SATB or, in some cases, vocal solo or duet. Harold Fraser-Simson (1878-1944), known for "The Maid of the Mountains" and settings of AA Milne, also published eight songs from "Alice in Wonderland". Victor Hely-Hutchinson, who worked for the BBC, and composed A Carol Symphony and nursery rhyme settings, also set Father William, Humpty Dumpty, Jabberwocky, To the Looking Glass World, Tweedledum and Tweedledee and Beautiful Soup. The latter was also set as a two part song for children by the American Thomas Benjamin and as one of a number of songs by Roger Fiske in 1952.
In more recent years there have been The Mad Hatter's Song from "Birds and Beasts" by author Percy Young (d. 2003), The Crocodile and Father William (1984), combining Alice and Peter Pan, by Michael Berkeley for unaccompanied women's voices in six parts, Jabberwocky by Carol Barratt as the first of Four Strange Wild Songs, Tweedledee's Song by Mavis de Mierre, Songs for Alice (1978) by Don Harper, Five Alice Songs by Jeffrey Joseph for mezzo and instrumental ensemble, Some Hallucinations (unison voices) by Patrick Williams, The Lobster Quadrille for women's voices by Colin Hand, Seven Songs (1989) for women's voices by Maurice Bailey, and Father William (in 2 parts) by Sol Berkovitz, an American. Derek Bourgeois (1941- ) with his extravaganza Jabberwocky (baritone, mixed voice chorus and orchestra) achieved in 1967 what Elgar had failed to finish. Finally among these recent examples, Philip Lane (1950- ) has told me he was commissioned in 1998 to set "Rhymes of Lewis Carroll" for Guildford High School to mark the centenary of Carroll's death, for SSA choir and piano. For once they do not set words from "Alice".
Alice has naturally figured on both large and small screens. The first talkie of "Alice in Wonderland" included music credited to Hollywood mogul Dimitri Tiomkin, though the twelve published items included ten songs, some credited to Nathaniel Finston, and the instrumental pieces, Lobster Quadrille and Morris Dance. Similarly, the 1951 Disney cartoon version had its music credited to Oliver Wallace but other Carroll songs published by Disney were credited to Don Raye and Gene de Paul, Mack David, Al Hoffman, Jenny Livingston and at least five songs by Sammy Fain. John Barry of James Bond fame, wrote a score for a British film, "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" (1972) and published a song book therefrom. Music for "Putting on the Ritz" included a song Alice in Wonderland by Irving Berlin. Most recently, "Alice in Wonderland" (2010) had music by Danny Elfman.
We are left with television, radio and audio books, for which latter Martin Cook wrote music. I have little information on the music used for the many radio Alice adaptations (a radio "Hunting of the Snark" had incidental music from Max Saunders) and none on who composed for the first televised Alices in 1936-7 and later in 1946, though the latter may have utilised Addinsell's music previously mentioned. A 69 minute radio version of "Alice in Wonderland" (1960) had music by Antony Hopkins, broadcaster and sometime director of Intimate Opera. Adaptations of Alice in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s included one in 1966 which had music from sitar player Ravi Shankar. For a recent TV version (2000, Channel 4) later issued on DVD, a score was written by the Yorkshire born composer Richard Hartley, born in 1944.
There have been a number of "spoof" Alices; as just one example I offer the parody ballet "Alice in Lumberland", whose music was by the theatre composer Norman O'Neill (1875-1934). Generally, though, we can say with confidence that the richness and whimsy of Carroll are matched by the variety and sheer enjoyment of the music written for dramatised versions or otherwise inspired by them. I suspect that what we have recalled here is just the tip of a significant iceberg. And more will surely come to delight us in future years.
1953 AND ALL THAT
Sixty years ago the British nation was gripped by Coronation fever: we had had the 1948 Olympics, the 1951 Festival of Britain and, early the following year, a new Queen had come to the throne. Now, on 2nd June 1953, she was to be crowned in Westminster Abbey; the event was to be televised and would be seen all over the world. The British record industry was in fine form; 78s still held sway but 45s and LPs were appearing in increasing numbers and would gradually take over.
Unless Vivaldi, Benvenuto FineIIi and Helga Mott were your particular favourites there was little to get excited about amongst the January LP releases but, at other speeds, it was a different story. On
Columbia we had Coronation Scot and The Horse Guards, Whitehall from the
Queens Hall Light Orchestra, the 78 having been with us since May 1948. Blue Tango. Belle Of The Ball, The Waltzing Cat and Marching Strings filled a pair of 45s by RayMartin and, on Parlophone, half a dozen titles from Sidney Torch included Valse Grise, Mexican Fiesta and Claude Yvoire’s Cresta Run.
78s at the start of the year included Leroy Anderson’s own recordings of A Trumpeter’s Lullaby, Jazz Pizzicato and Jazz Legato; Ray Martin’s Tickled Pink and Henpecking and the QHLO under Bob Farnonwith Champagne March and Tony Lowry’s superb Seascape. George Melachrino brought usReginald King’s Song Of Paradise and Ron Goodwin popped up on Polygon with Heyken’s Serenade and The Wedding Of The Rose.
In February there was a pot-pouzri of Leroy Anderson titles on a Brunswick LP. while a certain Robert Famon appeared on Decca with The Fleet’s In, Sand In My Shoes, Lazybones and nine or ten other items; David Rose, meanwhile, offered Portrait Of A Flirt on an MGM 45. Leroy Anderson came up with two more of his own pieces on a Brunswick 78 and Charles Williams, on a 12-inch Columbia, showed the Coronation Year spirit with Long Live Elizabeth and The Yeomen Of England. On Decca Bob Farnon gave us two of his "Fleet’s In" titles on a 12-inch 78 and George Melachrino paraded the film hits on HMV. Nick Acquaviva made a rare appearance on with Holiday In Rio and Her Tears while Sidney Torch offered a pair of popular titles on a Parlophone ‘R’.
As winter gave way to spring, LPs had little to offer but there were some 45rpm issues by Ray Martin and his London Saga on a Columbia 78, while on Parlophone Sidney Torch brought us The Last Rhapsody and Ron Goodwin took off with his scintillating Jet Journey, and Ron was also on his original label Polygon, with Rainbow Run by Eddie Mers. April’s light music ‘hit’ was undoubtedly Acquaviva’s breathtaking recording of Curtain Time on an MGM 45; Ray Martin was still in the Columbia lists with Waltzing Bugle Boy and Lazy Cowboy on DB3258. The Melachrino Strings gave us a TV hit of the day with Little Red Monkey and Sidney Torch, was Meandering on Parlophone R3674.
With the Big Event approaching rapidly, Decca brought us, on LP, The Three Elizabeths and Four Centuries Suites by Eric Coates as part of a release of all-British music in specially-designed sleeves. Bob’s Lincolnshire Poacher was at large on one of their ten-inch LPs and Coates was again to the fore with his London and London Again suites on a Parlophone LP. Those two patriotic Charles Williams titles reappeared on a 45 and Parade Of The Clowns was the May MGM offering fron David Rose. The new Charles Williams titles were The British Grenadiers and Heart O’London while Ray Martin brought us Veradero and the catchy One Finger Serenade.
Tuesday, 2nd June dawned dismal, dull and damp - in fact it was one of the wettest days that anyone could remember. But everything went ahead as planned: Sidney Torch gave us Magic Circles and Cornflakes but the only really noteworthy light music accolade went to Frank Chacksfield for his famous recording of Ebb Tide. The major July issue was the HMV LP set of the Coronation service which still sounds impressive today; on Columbia Ray Martin countered with Begorrah and Serenade To Eileen and Sidney Torch ignored his own compositions in favour of a selection from Chu Chin Chow.
August was traditionally the month when EMI went on holiday: very brief release sheets mention two minor titles from Melachrino, and David Rose’s Waltz Of The Bubbles. But things were looking up the following month when Sidney Torch offered us A Canadian In Mayfair on Parlophone R 3732 and Ron Goodwin recorded two attractive titles: Shane and The Melba Waltz on R3736.
In October I began my National Service and would not have had time to note down any record releases, but looking back I see that Leroy Anderson had another LP of his own compositions on Brunswick, Bob had one - LK 4067 - on Decca and the Melachrino Strings had a ten-inch LP on HMV. Leroy Anderson presented us with his Serenata and Horse And Buggy on a Brunswick 78 and Camarata, on the same label, greeted us with Rendezvous and Fiddlesticks. The then-popular Swedish Rhapsody was Ray Martin’s contribution and Charles Williams introduced us to A Girl Called Linda.
The November fogs were much in evidence when Peter Yorke turned up, surprisingly, on the Brunswick label with an LP of standards while Ray Martin was on familiar territory with a clutch of his classics on the ‘Magic Notes’ label and Sidney Torch did a similar job on Parlophone. Wally Stott made a very rare appearance on MGM with My One And Only Love and Serenade For A Tin Horn; Charles Williams was on Parade with the Clowns on Columbia and, by way of a change, the youngsters were being catered for on HMV with Noddy, Muffin the Mule and dear old Uncle Mac. Tropicana and Blue Night were Sidney Torch’s titles and Philip Green, also on Parlophone, was having a Spanish Affair.
And so to December. Appropriately. Leroy Anderson gave us a Christmas Festival on a Brunswick 78; Axel Stordahl brought us a very attractive version of The Piccolino on Capitol and George Melachrino pleased this enthusiast immensely when he recorded Ken Warner’s Scrub Brother Scrub for HMV. Mind you, this had been recorded before - in 1947 on a Columbia DB.
But nobody told me …..
This feature appeared in the August 2013 issue of ‘Journal Into Melody’
On Sunday 13 September 1992 Moira, David and Fenella Ades invited fellow Robert Farnon Society members to their home in South Somerset to enjoy an informal afternoon of Light Music. The intention was to encourage members living in the West Country to come along, if distance prevented them from attending our usual London meetings. Seventeen members accepted the invitation, but only one was a ‘new face’! The rest were RFS ‘regulars’ who couldn’t resist the attraction of a musical afternoon, and one member even travelled 200 miles to attend. Unfortunately the weather was wet, so members were ‘trapped’ inside the house. The music was deliberately non-formal. Members said what they would like to hear, and the appropriate recordings were sought out and played. When someone suggested the Chappell music that used to feature in Dan Dare – Pilot Of The Future on Radio Luxembourg in the 1950s, we all became 40 years younger – at least, in our minds!
The success of the 1992 event prompted a repeat a year later, on Sunday 12 September 1993. This time the attendance went up to 26, and Jim Palm wrote a special report for JIM 114:
As in 1992 the weather, alas, was wet (very wet, in fact) but the atmosphere inside was warm and convivial. Philip Farlow and I arrived shortly after noon to find the house already filling up fast and, with drinks pressed into our hands, we were soon chatting with friends old and new.
We were soon being invited to help ourselves to a buffet lunch; a large table groaning with food was set up in the dining room and the ladies had clearly been working very hard. Our plates full, some chose to sit in the lounge with others out in the conservatory, and now the important business of the day began. On my right-hand side and all the way from Altrincham was David Mardon; the talk was of music (naturally) and over a potted plant just to my left, Tony Clayden and I were chatting about television themes of yesteryear and, on the subject of music used years ago by the London company Rediffusion, I surprised myself by remembering that, at one time, they used a march by one Stanley Bate. Does this ring a bell with anybody?
With the cheese and biscuits over (or trifle, as appropriate) David invited us, when we were ready, to pick up our chairs and proceed up to his eyrie at the top of the house. Still the rain lashed down but we quickly forgot such mundane matters as we set about delving into boxes of 78s, LPs and CDs. Wallets and chequebooks were soon lighter and slimmer as sundry purchases were made until, seated at last, the music began and a very ‘ad hoc’ programme was to include such items as Clive Richardson’s Running Off The Rails hotted—up by Florian Zabach; mouth-watering tastes of the ‘Memories of the Light Programme’ release; assorted tracks from KPM reissues of the I950s and the Big Band sound of Laurie Johnson. Paul Lewis, the composer profiled in JIM 113, regaled us with stories about musicians and the problems of writing for television. Amongst the many questions raised by those present, there was one about Polygon records. This is one of the nice things about these ‘at homes’: the ready exchange of information and ideas with everyone joining in and learning a lot into the bargain. The informal atmosphere made us all feel at ease; anyone with a special request could have it played and David was, I seem to remember, only stumped on one occasion. At about five o’clock came the call to tea, and soon people were saying their goodbyes.
After two very wet afternoons in previous Septembers, Moira, David and Fenella announced in JIM 116 that the 1994 Seavington Music Day would be two months earlier, on Sunday 17 July. It proved to be ‘third time lucky’, as Jim Palm reported in JIM 118: "A smashing day as always" was my comment in the Stone Gables visitors’ book. This time the sun shone on a lovely summer’s day when lunch in the garden was not only possible, but virtually a ‘must’. The welcome was as genuine and convivial as ever and the attendance fair took the breath away: nearly forty people were there in all and we even had to queue to reach the table which was groaning with food.
On this occasion we had a trio of talented composers in our midst: Paul Lewis, John Fox and Heinz Herschmann. As had now become usual, after lunch we all went upstairs for the music – somehow David’s floor managed to take the weight of us all!
At length we all made our way downstairs again for tea and cakes, and the balmy evening made many of us linger, chatting in the lovely garden until it really was time to go. Philip and I finally dragged ourselves away at 7:40 and headed back to Salisbury ….
In 1995 it was back to Seavington again, with fingers crossed that Sunday 23 July 1995 would also have the lovely weather we had enjoyed the previous year. We were lucky! The garden, patio and conservatory were all packed with members, and on this occasion we welcomed two friends who had actually come all the way from Australia – Kym and Julie Bonython. Kym was something of a legend back home: Australian jazz lovers owed him a great debt of gratitude for all the fine Americans he persuaded to play in the concerts he promoted over many years. During the afternoon he treated us to recordings by Phil Moore – just one of the many musicians he knew.
The usual routine followed … music, then eventually tea, then finally goodbyes.
Everyone hoped there would be another summer meeting in 1996, and it was duly arranged for Sunday 7 July 1996. Perhaps the date was unfortunate (it was Men’s Finals Day at Wimbledon) and the weather forecast was indifferent. But as it turned out the sun shone in Seavington, although Wimbledon was disrupted by rain.
Was this the best Seavington Summer Meeting of them all? Possibly, because the famous guests included Trevor Duncan, John Fox, Joy Devon (Mrs. John Fox), Freddie Dachtler (of The Polka Dots), Heinz Herschmann, Eric Parkin and Paul Lewis. All of them spoke about their work, and members enjoyed many recordings during the afternoon.
The following year, in July 1997, the RFS celebrated Robert Farnon’s 80th Birthday with a lavish meeting and banquet at the Bonnington Hotel. This broke the pattern of Sunday Summer Meetings in Seavington, but in hindsight it was probably fitting that the last of the five, in 1996, was probably the best of them all!
This feature appeared in the August 2013 issue of ‘Journal Into Melody’