Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

Manifold Publishing 'Manifold Gardens' 22 Beacon View Drive, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands B74 2AW.
£14.95 + £2.50 p&p (£17.45), overseas £14.95 + £5.00 p&p (£19.95). cheque payable 'Manifold Publishing' drawn UK bank.

Albert Ketèlbey, kindliest of men, was one of the giants of British light music; the peak of his career was perhaps the years 1915-30, but his posthumous reputation has been sustained by LPs and CDs over the past 30 years and more. Until now, however, many of the basic facts about him - even his real name - and his life in music have been confused and for that reason alone this attractively produced, carefully researched and surely definitive volume is welcome.

Mr Sant traces Ketèlbey's origins (and there were many Ketèlbeys, listed here in a family tree) and his early life and studies in Birmingham. After further study at Trinity College London he then touched many aspects of the British light music scene: the theatre (he composed music specially for silent films and his concert works were ideally suited to that medium); light orchestras and military bands, which kept his compositions before the public through the 1930s and beyond after the silent cinema had been replaced by the "talkies". The BBC broadcast his music profusely in the 1930s and early 1940s, less so there-after, a fact underlined by Mr Sant and confirmed by my own (admittedly anecdotal) researches.

Like so many light music composers Ketèlbey seemed to hanker after recognition as a serious composer, though for me even his more "serious" effusions have the same qualities of tunefulness and craftmanship which betoken In a Monastery Garden, In a Persian Market, Bells across the Meadows and so many other "light" Ketèlbey numbers. In short this book is a splendid "read". It lacks a detailed list of works (but Tom McCanna of Sheffield University has produced an excellent one, mentioned here), but it does include a useful select discography, 65 illustrations and a biographical note on Albert's brother, the violin virtuoso Harold George Ketèlbey.

I am delighted to give it a whole-hearted recommendation.

Philip Scowcroft

Return to Index

Reviews from previous months
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board.  Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.This is the only part of MusicWeb for which you will have to register.

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers: