Most of the composers that feature in our repertoire were very successful musicians in their day but they have now largely been forgotten, apart perhaps from Ketèlbey and Eric Coates. Ketèlbey’s name still lingers in the memory of British audiences, partly thanks to In a Persian Market. (A recording of this can be found on our CD Too Beautiful for Words.) and Coates will never be forgotten because of the Dambusters and By the Sleepy Lagoon made famous by the BBC’s Desert Island Discs.
However not many musicians would recognise the names of Charles Ancliffe, Percy Fletcher, Lazare Krein or Joe Rixner but they wrote some wonderful music, full of great tunes with an immediate appeal and all excellently scored. We believe their compositions deserve a wider audience and we will love playing their works.
Our recordings pay homage to these forgotten composers: Charles Ancliffe, son of an Irish bandmaster who became a BBC conductor; Percy Fletcher, who conducted at many West End theatres and composed the music for several very successful West End shows; Lazare Krein, one of the pillars of an important Russian Jewish musical dynasty; and Joe Rixner, leader of one of the most successful orchestras in pre-war Berlin.
Sometimes great tunes are remembered even if their composers have been forgotten. This is probably true of Jack Strachey (1894-1972). His composition In Party Mood received a new lease of life when it was used as the signature for the popular radio broadcast Housewife's Choice in the 1950s. Any former housewife can still hum it.
Very famous in his day was the Italian composer Enrico Toselli. On two counts: He was well known as a pianist and composer but his marriage to Crown Princes Louise of Saxony was also much talked about. His fame might have faded now but the tune of his Serenata is still very near the surface in people's musical memories.
The Neopolitan Serenade made Gerhard Winkler one of the most successful composers of the 1930s. He built on his success with Capri-fisherman, which enjoyed more than twelve thousand live performances in one year.
Helmut Zacharias played the violin on stage at the "Kit-Kat Club" in Berlin age six. His first broadcast on German radio followed, age 11, with a Mozart concerto. He played the violin for almost eight decades and composed many great numbers some of which are particularly popular whith our audiences.
Another great violinist / composer was Georges Boulanger, born in Romania, son of a Bulgarian mother and a Greek father who wanted to be a tram conductor as a boy but when he learned to play the violin he soon became one of the leading virtuosi of his time. He moved to Switzerland and composed lots of light music.
We do play works by many other composers as well but often it is very hard to find out anything about them. We have to be grateful that at least their music has not been lost.
All too often music archives were decimated when publishing houses changed hands and many scores have disappeared in skips with the reorganisation of libraries.