After qualifying from the Royal college of Music, Haydn Wood, already celebrated as a child prodigy violinist, was employed by Madame Albani, most famous soprano of the era - referred to as ‘the Peerless Queen of Song’ - to accompany her on a world tour. Haydn performed virtuoso violin solos incorporated in the programme as well as the obbligato lines when Madame Albani sang.
They toured Canada, Australia, New Zealand and eventually the UK. At some stage in the tour Haydn shared the platform with Dorothy Court, an emerging soprano. They fell in love and in 1909 they married.
In the eight years that Haydn toured with Madame Albani, compostion began to take on a more and more important role in his life. Amongst the major works that appeared in these early years were a substantial Piano Concerto and a Phantasy String Quartet, which came second in the first Cobbett Competition in 1905.
He might well have continued writing in this 'serious' vein but for Dorothy. It was for her that he started writing lyrical ballads that were eventually to overshadow every other area of his creative output. In 1916 he composed his most famous song ‘Roses of Picardy ‘ for her.
Having got used to the Variety Hall life with the Albani set, the young couple enthusiastically embarked on a career touring variety theatres in the British Isles. Dorothy sang ballads that Haydn composed for her and he played violin gems.
They believed that the Music Hall was one of the best mediums for popularizing songs and offered excellent opportunities for a violinist too. Wood bought a broad-beamed car, wide enough for himself , Dorothy, and their pianist to sit in the front seat.
This crowded seating arrangement was necessary because a celeste, featured in some of the more whimsical numbers, took up the whole of the back seat. For thirteen years they worked hard, six days a week, two or three concert per day. On Sundays they would drive on to the next town.
They shared the stage with ventriloquists, acrobats or even sea-lions with two ladies in a tank. They were billed as the most artistic musical act on the Halls.
With the advent of radio, all changed. Haydn’s talents were recruited for this new medium and the BBC commissioned some works and often broadcast his music.
The marriage was a long and happy one. Dorothy died in 1958 and was outlived by her husband by just one year. Haydn Wood died in London just two weeks before his 77th birthday.