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Malcolm Riley

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About Malcolm Riley

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  1. Whitlock, Harwood, etc

    I have several recordings of live performances of the Whitlock Symphony (Chatham, York Minster, London) in the archive as well as one of the Basil Harwood. Let me know if you'd like to hear them. As to the Lloyd, do the orchestral parts exist? The Quentin Maclean Concerto is extant. Best wishes, MKR
  2. Dr Philip Marshall

    I am undertaking research into the life and work of Dr Philip Marshall, native of Brighouse and long-time resident of Lincolnshire, best-known for his long and fruitful association with Lincoln Cathedral. Through the good offices of Robert Gower I am collecting copies of his published and unpublished works. However, we would be pleased to trace other MSS or memorabilia related to this great musical character and would also be keen to receive any personal anecdotes which forum members might care to share. Malcolm Riley
  3. Nautical Organ Pieces

    Whitlock's To Phoebe isn't really about the sea, at all. The piece that is connected is his March for the 'Phoebe', that was HMS Phoebe, a Dido-class cruiser, which was active on the Malta convoys. Whitlock wrote it in July 1942 for the ship's band. The 2-stave, short score surfaced in a pile of music at a Bournemouth jumble sale (in 1978, I think), sent along by Byron Brooke, who had been leader of the Bournemouth Municipal Orchestra during the War. It's an excellent nautical march, very crisp and bouncy. Robert Gower's organ arrangment was published by Novellos, in an organ album - Processionals - which is probably out of print now. Whitlock's friend, Bernard Walker (dedicatee of the former's Fanfare) composed a chorale-prelude on Melita (For Those in Peril...) which he worked in counterpoint with The Sailor's Hornpipe. Although this is still in MS I recorded it on an organ CD - St Bride's, Fleet Street. Great fun. I've often wondered whether the Scherzo from RVW's A Sea Symphony might make a good organ piece, even without Whitman's words. Malcolm Riley
  4. John Compton

    <h2> <span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><span style="font-size: 14px;">If it's of any interest to MM for his 'Great Work', Percy Whitlock's diaries are littered with occasional references to Comptons. I append a small selection to whet his appetite.</span></span></h2> <h2> <em>Wednesday 11 July 1934</em></h2> <p> </p> <p>... Jimmy Taylor turned up, came to the flat for Tea, & passed my St Stephen’s [bournemouth] scheme with one suggestion which I think is an improvement. Comptons are doing a £10,000 job at the new Southampton Town Hall (to seat 2,500) about 40 rks! Two consoles, one luminous, the other stop-keys – the latter to have about 270 Tabs!! We must have another 100 put on at the Pavilion!!! Mr Compton has gone through the wind screen of his Lanchester, taking the corner too fast; face & nose badly cut, suffering from shock. They are going to send a console hand down in Sept to put the new tabs etc. on the console.</p> <p> </p> <h2> <em>Friday 10 August 1934</em></h2> <p>...Tuners at Pavilion; went down and “helped”. John Compton (& boy friend) turned up – he was quite pleased with the organ I think.</p> <p> </p> <h2> <em>Tuesday 4 October 1934</em></h2> <p>... to the Compton factory tried 2 rk, 3 rk, & 14 rk (the completed shop organ). Tea at Shepherd’s Bush – called at the Pavilion – [Frederic] Curzon away. </p> <p> </p> <h2> <em>Friday 15 September 1944</em></h2> <p> </p> <p>3. To St. Francis [of Assisi Church, Bournemouth - Whitlock had opened the organ in 1938]. Jolly Frank Holden & keen Mr. Fair (of Compton’s) got on with the job. They came to the house about 8.30, & we drank Tea, & talked the rafters blue. Much discussion about the Church House – Westminster organ (now destroyed) which Ball designed to use electrophonic basses, & the manuals re-inforced with pipes to fill in what electrophonics can’t do. A good idea. Worked out some schemes on these lines during the next day or two.</p> <h2> <em>Saturday 16<sup>th</sup> September 1944</em></h2> <p> </p> <p>3.15. Recital at St. Francis (Compton Electrotone) to the organists’ Assn: Overture ‘Otho’ – Handel; ‘Blessed Damozel’ – Debussy; the short G. minor (Bach). Tea in the Hall afterwards. [J D] Chandler [organist of St Peter's, Bournemouth] said (in a speech) that he looked forward to the day when this fine Church should have a <u>real</u> organ. Fair pulled rather a rye face, for he (and Bourne) are principally responsible for Compton’s electronics. However we all three visited the Pavilion at 9, after which Fair said he was going to look for a nice rope with a strong noose! They came up home again – two most enjoyable evenings.</p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p>Is this any help?</p> <p> </p> <p>best wishes,</p> <p> </p> <p>Malcolm Riley</p>
  5. John Compton

    Further notes on James I Taylor: Leslie Barnard wrote to me in March 1984 with this impression of Jim Taylor, a 'great and well loved character... He was famous for his extraordinary powers at extemporary playing but he was also an excellent player from the dots, when he had time to get up a programme, and he broadcast several recitals from B[roadcasting] H[ouse] in the thirties, playing the standards - Bach, Franck, Karg-Elert, Guilmant etc. He was not one to boast but it WAS his harmless boast that he had played services for every denomination in the book, Anglican, Roman Catholic, Anglo-Catholic, Wesleyan, Presbyterian, Congregational, Baptist, Liberal Synagogues where they have organs, Town Halls and Crematoria. Apart from that he was the most able all-round organ builder ever, next to The Old Man John Compton himself, having done with his own hands every job there is to be done from sawing up hard-wood by hand when he was a boy to making pedal keys, to action and soundboard work, designs, setting out, voicing and finishing. He was also brilliant at organisation, staff management, dealing with Bishops, Deans, Vicars, Rectors, Organ Grinders, Moderators, Rabbis, Town Clerks, busybodies, consultants and organ nuts. He was short, stocky, genial, humorous and fatherly. He spoke standard English but for anecdotes where appropriate he could always drop in to a lovely Nottinghamshire. He was THE anecdotist. In the years I knew him he told me hundreds of droll stories connected with the craft of organ building and he seemed to have a card index brain and to know what he had told you because he never told one twice unless you asked him to go back to it. Sounds like he was one in a million! Malcolm Riley
  6. Whitlock

    Whitlock's Right Thumb At birth it was discovered that Whitlock's right thumb had bifurcated. The supernumerary digit was removed whilst he was a baby leaving him with a thumb which was longer and thinner than most, more akin to a middle finger, apparently. There are a couple of photos in the Whitlock Archive which show it quite clearly. He wasn't in the least self-conscious about it; indeed, he took full advantage of it as an organist (much to the discomfort of those of us with normal spans! Someone told me that he was also double-jointed. Incidentally two 'new' photographs of Whitlock have been posted recently on the 'net by the TopFoto agency (TopFoto.co.uk), showing 'Percy Whitlock, the boy organist, who has been elected Kent Scholar, Royal College of Music', taken on 8 April 1920, when PW was 16. They were taken at Minor Canon Row, Rochester. An interior shot shows the young maestro seated at Charles Hylton Stewart's upright piano with a rather impressive double page mansucript on the desk. It's difficult to establish what the piece is, apart from the fact that there are four staves per system. A student string quartet, perhaps? We shall probably never know!
  7. John Compton

    JAMES ISAAC TAYLOR - COMPTON'S RIGHT HAND MAN I've gleaned a little further background inforrmation on JIT. He was born in Radford, Notts in 1892, the only child of Henry Taylor (a church caretaker - very useful for a son who's interested in organs, I should imagine!) and Clara Ann Taylor. By 1911 JIT had moved away from his parents' home (he's not listed with them on the Census), though I haven't managed to locate him - yet. JIT married Lilian D Skinner in Nottingham in 1919. Her brother, Roy Skinner, would later work for the John Compton Organ Co. According to Leslie Barnard the Taylors had two sons: "one became a market gardener and the other rose to heights in the insurance world". I've traced a birth of James L[aurence] Taylor in Nottingham in 1926. Laurie Taylor once entertained Leslie Barnard to lunch at the Farmers' Club, Whitehall, so I suppose he was the market gardener! After the above the trail has gone cold again! ...apart from a fascinating online reference to a wartime JIT patent concerning electric pre-selector gearboxes for motorcars. Malcolm Riley
  8. John Compton

    Someone who knew everyone well at the pre-war Compton Works was Leslie Barnard, who died just about a year ago, aged 95. I have kept all of Leslie's letters over a 30 year period and they often mention J I Taylor. Leslie certainly kept in touch with one of JIT's sons into the 1980s. I shall have to go for a good rummage in the archives and will report back any relevant findings to the Forum. JIT could demonstrate any organ and in any style. He might just be recognizable on the ITN footage of the Queen's re-opening of St Bride's, Fleet Street. There is a VHS transfer of this somewhere, apparently. JIT died on 6 April 1958 in the Central Middlesex Hospital. He left an estate worth over £36,000. .
  9. HRH & Parry

    I agree that it was a bit uneven in places, but that's mostly down to the editing, surely? Any film which promotes Parry's music is going to be a Good Thing. The various Shulbrede Tunes played on the piano were a revelation to me, as was the movement from the Magnificat, filmed in Oxford. As an appetizer for a deeper investigation into Parry's music it must surely be ranked as a great success. The Westminster Abbey conversations were great fun, especially when James O'Donnell asked Robert Quinney to take a break from the pedalboard. They say that CHHP died in the Spanish 'flu epidemic, though I'd heard that he died from septicemia caused by a hernia which he ruptured whilst strenuously tricycling uphill. Is this true? I have in my possession a charming letter on RCM notepaper, dated 9 January 1911, to a recently-departed student, one 'Dodds', in which Parry hopes that 'you will get plenty to do and do it in grand style'. If only today's conservatoire administrators were so wholesome and encouraging in their parting remarks! Malcolm Riley
  10. New words for old.

    Again, slightly off-topic: a mis-translation of 'Valet will ich dir geben', as seen in a German car-wash; 'I will give the interior of your car a good clean'!
  11. Compton Organ in Dorset

    In Whitlock's day this was St Osmund's Church, very Anglo-Catholic. Whitlock knew the organ from 1931 (when he met there Leslie Spurling and John Compton: 'Was able to hear & try the new organ - which is magnificent. Rolling Pedal & Diapasons - thrilling Full Swell') until March 1946 when, blind and looking like a wraith (from TB), he gave a recital to the local organists' association, some six weeks before his death. He loved the acoustic (all that marble!) and the fact that the whole organ was enclosed made it ideal for broadcasting (good old medium wave mono). He made 8 live broadcasts for the BBC from Parkstone between July '44 and Jan '45. In the early '80s I was fortunate to be able to spend an afternoon in the church, armed with my trusty stereo cassette recorder and lots of encouragement from the then organist, Gerald Roper and Whitlock's great friend, Bernard Walker (dedicatee of Fanfare from Whitlock's Four Extemporisations). Apart from the roar of the passing traffic (and the staccato ripost from a nearby pneumatic drill) I managed to get quite a few pieces recorded. Parts of two of Whitlock's 1945 broadcasts were preserved by the BBC (at PW's request) on 78 rpm 'acetates' (actually glass RCA discs with centre starts!). These precious performances have been transcribed and 'CEDARed' and are available on an Amphion Disc PHI CD 147. I wonder whether anyone other than Whitlock ever broadcast from St Osmund's? Nor do I know of any commercial recordings of the organ.
  12. Celebrating Rochester Composers

    I've done a bit of digging on Harold Aubie Bennett, who succeeded Charles Hylton Stewart as Organist at Rochester Cathedral in 1930. Bennett was born in Eccles, Manchester in 1891, the son of William Arthur Bennett, an Insurance Manager (Boiler Insurance, to be specific!), a native of Salford and Sara Lucy Bennett (maiden name unknown), a Mancunian. There was an older sister, Ethel Lucy Bennett. By 1911 the family were living in Brudenell Grove, Leeds, and HAB is listed in the census as being 19 years old, single and 'student music and organist'. HAB was educated at the Central High School in Leeds and at Leeds Parish Church, presumably as a chorister under Bairstow. From 1913-23 he was Bairstow's Assistant at York Minster as well as being Organist of the city's Priory Church of Holy Trinity. From 1919-24 he was a lecturer at St John's College, York. He also conducted York Symphony Orchestra, which had been founded by Thomas Tertius Noble, from 1921-6. From 1919-25 HAB was Chorus Master of Bradford Festival Choral Society. This overlapped with his tenure as Organist of Doncaster Parish Church, 1923-30. He also conducted Doncaster LNER Music Society from 1925-30. In 1919 he married the pianist Lilian W Dewhurst in York. There don't appear to have been any children from the marriage. The Bennetts moved into Minor Canon Row, Rochester in the summer of 1930. Having been turned down for the top job Percy Whitlock left Rochester for St Stephen's Bournemouth. Bennett had suggested that PW apply for his job at Doncaster. However, the job went to Percy Saunders (later organist at Wakefield Cathedral). In any case, having met Bennett, Whitlock didn't 'feel like continuing in a subordinate position. I cannot stay here under a new man' he confided to his diary. Bennett's application had received strong support from Bairstow, an influential 'fixer' of organists' posts in those days. HAB took over the conductorship of Rochester Choral Society in 1930, considerably widening its repertory, with music by Bax, Faure (3 performances of the then rarely-heard Requiem), Hamilton Harty (The Mystic Trumpeter), Armstrong Gibbs' The Highwayman, Holst's The Hymn of Jesus, Kodaly's Te Deum, Verdi's Requiem and RVW's Dona Nobis Pacem. Heady stuff!. He also served as an examiner for Trinity College from 1939. Lilian Bennett died in November 1944, aged 48. Three months earlier she and HAB had survived a near hit from a V1 which landed near a garden in Frindsbury where they were having tea with a Choral Society member. Two years later HAB married Zana Zoe Burford (1912-1991), Music Mistress at Chatham Girls' Technical School and later at Rochester Girls' Grammar School. She had served as accompanist to Rochester Choral Society during the War. According to Joe Levett's memoirs HAB retired 'owing to ill-health' in 1956. He was succeeded by Dr Robert Ashfield. The Bennetts stayed on in Rochester. HAB died in 1978. He doesn't appear to have left many original compositions. He did, however, contribute a chorus to the Rochester Historical Pageant of 1931 (together with music by PW and Hylton Stewart). I have one open reel tape recording of a recital given by HAB on Rochester Cathedral Organ in 1957 which gives a good idea of his musicianship. This was found among the enormous cache of off-air 78rpm and open reel recordings rescued from Joe Levett's Rochester residence when he moved into an old folk's home. There are the bare bones of HAB's career. Who can add some human-interest raiment? Malcolm Riley
  13. S.S. Wesley's Organ Music

    The Andante in F is a particular favourite. It's quite long and sprawling but it explores some wonderfully far-flung harmonic corners, builds to a mighty climax and fits beautifully under the fingers. The pedal part is relatively straightforward (always a consideration for those of us with tired feet) and it fits onto a modest two manual with ease. MKR
  14. Philip Dore

    Someone who knew Philip Dore very well from the 1930s until his death in 1974 is Leslie Barnard. now 93, and residing in an old folks' home near Havant. The October 1993 Whitlock Trust Newsletter includes Leslie's reminiscences of Dore. I could let you have a photocopy if you're interested. I also have a few photos of 'Jumbo', as he was known to his intimates. Dore recorded several 78 rpm sides on the Pavilion organ for Parlophone, c 1930, which I have on cassette. They're very much of their time but show what Dore was capable of drawing from the Compton, which was only a year or so old. It was slightly enlarged in 1934 when the Theatre's flytower was added. He was an inveterate hummer at the console. I have BBC radio broadcasts of him playing Whitlock's Fantasie Choral No 1 (which was dedicated to Dore) and the complete Sonata in C minor - a wildly wayward interpretation! Both recorded at Ampleforth in the '60s. Malcolm Riley
  15. Introduce Yourself

    Having made a few contributions to the Forum in the past I thought that I, too, should introduce myself. Musical family. Piano lessons from age 7, violin from 8. Became a chorister at St Peter's Harrogate under the stern (but benevolent) eye of the late, great Jack Spencer FRCO (a former assistant at Leeds Parish Church). He had moved to the Harrogate job in (I believe) 1935 and had a wonderful all-male choir with 3 weekly practices and full choral matins and evensong each sunday. Cathedral standard. After Jack's death (c 1970) he was succeeded by his pupil, Harry Hodgson, who did a great job keeping the Spencer tradition alive, despite the travails of working with a barking-mad vicar. The organ was a huge 4 manual Walker which incorporated some Schulze ranks, rebuilt in 1952 and opened by William McKie. Harry started a series of celebrity organ recitals during my period as a chorister and this opened my ears to the potential of the organ. I met Francis Jackson, Guy Bovet, Douglas Hollick and Graham Steed. In 1976 I started organ lessons with the newly-appointed organist and choirmaster, Adrian Selway. He quickly pushed me up to ARCO standard and also suggested that I have a go for a Cambridge organ scholarship. I ended up at Christ's College, Cambridge in 1978, first as assistant scholar to Martin Ennis, and then for the next two years on my own. In my final term we made a choral/organ LP (with Michael Woodward) - something of an historical document - since the 1909 H N & B was shortly to disappear and be radically rebuilt by John Budgen. I took my FRCO in 1980 having a had a few lessons with Arthur Wills at Ely Cathedral. In my final year at Christ's I had keyboard harmony lessons with Charles Spinks, the renowned harpsichordist, organist and improviser. Charlie was a fund of tales about his teacher, Dupre. After a PGCE at Homerton College (no pipe organ there, only a '30s Hammond which lay sulking silently in the Hall) I was appointed Assistant D or M at Queen Elizabeth's Hospital, Bristol, a Blue-coat school with a small (but effective) 2 man Percy Daniel in the Hall. I also took up the post of O and CM at The Lord Mayor's Chapel on College Green (another 2 man). My assistant there was Walter Gulvin (then recently retired as MD of Percy Daniel). Walter was a fantastic support. I stuck this for about a year and a half. Malcolm Archer had recently taken over from Clifford Harker at the Cathedral and I was lucky enough to play for Evensong there on the restored organ (having got to know the old organ quite well in the summer of 1978 during a 'visiting choir residency' with the St Peter's Harrogate choir). Clifford succeeded me at the Lord Mayor's Chapel. Since then I have not had a regular organ post. The day job (Director of Music at Cranbrook School in Kent), and family life keep me busy enough and I am fortunate in having access to the 3 man Willis/Nicholson in St Dunstan's PC, Cranbrook. The past 30 or so years have also been spent researching the music and work of Percy Whitlock. This has resulted in 2 books, a host of CD liner notes, articles, lecture-recitals etc. and the opportunity to play some very nice instruments, including York Minster, Derby Cathedral, Southwell Minster (Nave), Birmingham Town Hall, Leominster Priory, Leeds PC, St Bride's Fleet Street and St Stephen's, Bournemouth. I've also dabbled with composition and am now working on some ideas for a Grand Overture, commissioned by Maidstone Symphnony Orchestra to open its Centenary Season next Autumn. Alas, there won't be an organ part!