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Madeleine Dring: her life and Music by Ro Hancock-Child  68pp text (biography and study of the various genres of composition) 14 pp of appendices including list of works, bibliography, discography 3pp index publisher Micropress ISBN 0 9537893 06 (2000)   only available from

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I first encountered the name of Madeleine Dring when I heard the Meridian LP entitled The Far Away Princess (Robert Tear/Philip Radcliffe - Radcliffe himself no mean song composer!). Later the BBC broadcast the short but lissomly balanced trio. Her songs make up the lion's share of her output and in this she is an extremely gifted writer as is clear (by all accounts) from her Herrick and Betjeman songs. Her setting of the latter's 'Nightclub Proprietress' is especially popular. Six volumes of her songs have been published by Thames. That all this has largely been achieved after her death in 1977 at the age of 54 is a matter of regret and only after an uphill struggle by Roger Lord. She was married to Roger Lord, the orchestral oboist, whose world tours must have exacerbated Dring's tendency towards loneliness.

She was by no means single-talented: a singer, pianist, cartoonist (her cannily amusing line drawings decorate many pages of the book), actress and lyricist. Her lyrics deck the narrative of this book which rather vividly conveys the impression of a person of sunny but by no means bland disposition. The book is an amicably easy read - radiantly reflective of the special person whose subtly engaging smile illuminates the front cover of the book.

The text is run out further towards the edge of each page than is usual making for a slight awkwardness in reading although saving the publisher a few pages. Nothing to worry unduly about but interesting all the same. The paper is a decent matte and the print clear and black with what seems to be a slight tendency to bleed. Again nothing to cause concern.

The discography omits two recordings of Dring's charming trio. (1) Jill Crowther, oboe; David Baker, bassoon, Alan Cuckston, piano SWINSTY FEW124 (cassette only) from 9 The Crescent, Ripon, N Yorks, HG4 2JB; (2) FURIANT FMDC 4603-2 which includes the Dring, Musgrave and Reizenstein trios - a Canadian CD - may possibly be the same as IBS1024 - which is listed.

I note that Ro Hancock-Child has a number of unique Dring recordings (songs and piano music) either in preparation or immediately available from her.

Ro Hancock-Child's name has been associated with British song for quite a few years now. With Nik Hancock-Child she recorded songs by Quilter and Armstrong Gibbs on the MARCO POLO label. In 1993 Thames published her 'A Ballad-Maker: the Life and Solo Songs of C Armstrong Gibbs' (London 1993; 88 pp, 4 pp illus. £9.95 pbk. ISBN 0-905210-41-7). She is also a contributor to the New Grove and to the OUP Dictionary of National Biography. The present desirable volume adds further to her reputation as a communicative rather than an exclusive writer. Accessible writing satisfying both the specialist and the general reader.


Rob Barnett

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Rob Barnett

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