ALBERT W KETÈLBEY 1875-1959: FROM THE SANCTUARY OF HIS HEART
by John Sant
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
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public through the 1930s and beyond after the silent cinema had been replaced
by the "talkies".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.