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