London 2012: The 1948 torch relay on a shoestring

By  Claire Heald for  BBC News, published 18 May 2011 

In 1948 two Olympic Torches were made by E.M.I Ltd, designed by Ralph Lavers and donated to the Organising Committee of the XIV Olympic Games. 

 John Mark runs in the Empire Stadium, Wembley, with the torch

Not the Duke of Edinburgh or athletics hero Sydney Wooderson, John Mark was the surprise last torchbearer in the ’48 Relay

Plans are under way for a 2012 Torch Relay spanning the UK. But what happened last time London staged one?

It was no 70-day extravaganza and it involved nothing like the 8,000 torchbearers that will carry the Olympic flame around the UK in 2012.

But the London 1948 Olympic Torch Relay was greeted with wild rejoicing and a mobbing of the torchbearer, even when he, (and they were all ‘he’) ran on by in the dead of night.

Ahead of London’s “Austerity Games”, organisers wanted to stage a relay to “capture the imagination of the public and the spirit of the Olympic torch”.

London 1948 Olympic Torch
 
1948 Olympic Torch (International Olympic Committee)
Torch was designed by EMI Ltd.

  • Made of aluminium
  • Designed by Ralph Lavers
  • 47cm long
  • 960g weight
  • 1,688 made for use across Europe and England
  • 1,416 runners
  • Covered 3,160km (1964 miles)
  • Last runner, John Mark, had a special stainless steel torch

The organising committee, led by Lord Burghley, decided to continue the pre-war tradition started by the Nazi regime at the 1936 Berlin Games to set up only the second torch relay of the modern Olympic Games.

It had to be delivered on a post-war budget. Britain was struggling in 1948, rationing would be in place for another six years.

“Things were pretty grim,”” says Terry Charman, senior historian at the Imperial War Museum. “Although the war had finished in 1945, Britain was still a very impoverished country in 1948.

“A lot of wartime conditions were still in place. Not just food rationing but clothes rationing, everything was in short supply.

“There were few cars, the petrol allowance was so small. It was a very grey time and a very bleak winter in 1947 set things back.

“People would have resented the Olympics if too much had been spent, with Britain in the fairly parlous state it was in.”

Britain could barely afford to stage the Games, let alone a torch relay, so its size, scope and the torch itself had to be affordable.

‘British craftsmanship’

Hold a 1948 Olympic torch and its simplicity is revealed – fairly hefty, a plain stem topped with a wide cup that held the burner. Forties-style capital letters spell out “With thanks to the bearer” and the Olympic rings are punched out on the bowl.

Its designer Ralph Lavers was tasked to create something “inexpensive and easy to make,” but still “of pleasing appearance and a good example of British craftmanship”.

The torches were made of aluminium, which was relatively cheap, and ran on solid fuel tablets, except the one for the final leg at the opening ceremony inside Wembley’s Empire Stadium.

It was stainless steel and housed a magnesium-fuelled flame designed to be easily visible by the watching crowds and cameras.

‘Thrilling’ role

On the A25, club runner Frank Verge, then 22, was waiting in the darkness to carry the torch on a two mile stretch between the Kent villages of Platt and Ightham.

His torch-bearing place was hard fought – he had taken on his older brother John in their club’s eight mile run and ignored his shouts of “ease up, you’ll burn out” as he broke away to win.

“They do say everybody has 15 minutes of fame in their life and I think that was mine,” he says of the 4.03am to 4.17am slot.

Frank Verge carrying the torch in 1948
Frank remembers hundreds of people lining the route…

“It was very exciting, the road was lined with what seemed like hundreds of people.”

“We had just gone through six years of war and I think the Olympic Games stood for more because it was a different kind of life – everyone was happy.

“I’ll never forget it, it was a great thrill.”

He handed over to the last runner in the stadium, relatively unknown quarter-miler John Mark, whose athletic good looks were controversially chosen over the favourite-but-bespectacled miler Sydney Wooderson or the widely-expected Duke of Edinburgh.

Frank Verge
…and says the memory is one he will keep for a lifetime
 
To read the whole article go to  BBC News
 

Revealed: the secrets of Captain Scott’s playlist

New album is compiled from gramophone recordings explorer took on ill-fated journey to the Antarctic

This article was written by Adam Sherwin published by The Independant,  Thursday 10 May 2012

 Huddled together inside their hut while blizzards raged outside, Captain Scott and his men found solace in the gramophone records of comical music hall hits, operettas and stirring anthems which the doomed explorer transported with him to the South Pole.

A century on, the original recordings that lifted spirits and prompted moist-eyed thoughts of home during Robert Falcon Scott’s ill-fated expedition are being released on Monday on an EMI album, compiled using the journals left by the expeditionaries.

When Scott embarked upon the Terra Nova expedition in 1910, he took with him two HMV “monarch” gramophones, donated by The Gramophone Company, which later became EMI, together with several hundred 78rpm discs, chosen to boost the team’s morale.

The 25 men who shared the hut played discs ranging from celebrity classical recordings to the most popular musical hall performers and hits from the latest musical shows.

One of the gramophones was kept with Scott in the Cape Evans base-camp hut, which survives in Antarctica today, with the other moved to the Northern Party’s smaller hut at Cape Adare.

Scott noted: “Meares has become enamoured of the gramophone. We find we have a splendid selection of records.”

Scott and his final four companions perished during a desperate return journey, after reaching the Pole in January 1912 only to find that a rival team led by Norwegian Roald Amundsen had beaten them to it by 33 days. But Scott’s gramophone was rescued and returned to the Gramophone Company – it is currently on display at a major exhibition about the expedition at the Natural History Museum – and the diaries kept by his team of scientists record the vital role the recordings played in lifting spirits.

A team of archive experts at Abbey Road transferred and mastered the original recordings from the EMI archive to produce the double album, released in June, called Scott’s Music Box. Some have dubbed the eclectic 48-track selection, “Captain Scott’s iPod”.

The musical tastes reflect a class divide. Tony Locantro, who compiled the sleeve notes for the CD, wrote: “The serving men of the Terra Nova generally liked the songs from the musicals, dance tunes and musical hall items, especially comic songs and sketches.

“The officers apparently preferred something more cultured like stirring ballads and operatic arias.”

Tracks range from “The Dollar Princess Two-Step” by Black Diamonds Band and “Stop Your Tickling Jock!” by Harry Lauder, to “Trafalgar March” by the Band of the Coldstream Guards and Enrico Caruso’s “Mattinata”.

EMI hopes the album will demonstrate the inspirational role music can play in people’s lives.

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/news/revealed-the-secrets-of-captain-scotts-playlist-7729182.html

If your interested in learning more about Captain Scott’s Gramophone check out EMI Group Archive Trust website http://www.emiarchivetrust.org

To see Captain Scott’s Gramophone and learn more visit  The Natural History Museum exibition ‘Scott’s Last Expedition’ 20 January – 2 September 2012 

http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit-us/whats-on/temporary-exhibitions/scott-last-expedition//index.html

HARRY LAUDER (1870–1950)

By Tony Locantro

Harry Lauder (1870–1950), the great international Scottish entertainer, was born into a poor family in Portobello, near Edinburgh, and worked in Scottish coal mines during his youth. His fellow-mineworkers enjoyed his singing and encouraged him to perform in the local halls, which led to a full-time career as a singer.

He made his London music hall debut in 1900 under the Scots persona which became his hallmark, complete with a pastiche of highland dress, broad accent and a canny eye on his money.

From 1902, Lauder recorded extensively for The Gramophone Company, initially on G&T, and by the outbreak of war in 1914 much of his repertoire was on both HMV and Zonophone. The death of his only son on the Sommein 1916 prompted him to make a record appealing for £1 million to help disabled Scottish servicemen and he gave numerous fund-raising concerts at home and abroad. After the introduction of electrical recording in 1925, Lauder remade much of his earlier repertoire for HMV, Zonophone and Victor.

Harry Lauder – Don’t Let Us Sing About War Anymore.        If you’re a SOTH subscriber following by email please go to the actual blog to get the full posting.

Thank you to our friends at the EMI Archive Trust in providing these fine images.

Nellie Melba and The Star Spangled Banner

The Hound is pleased to welcome our newest contributor Roger Neill

 

 

 By Roger Neill

As we all know, a vital ability in life is to respond creatively to an unforeseen threat quickly and decisively.

The great Australian diva, Nellie Melba, was set to sing Rosina in The Barber of Seville in San Francisco in 1898. Nothing unusual about that. It was one of her regular and best roles.

The problem was that the opera is set in Spain and, at that moment, Spain was threatening to invade and lay claim to Cuba. War appeared imminent and anti-Spanish feeling in the USA was running high. At the performance, although Melba herself was treated courteously by the audience, the barber, Figaro, was roundly booed.

What to do?

It so happens that in Act 2 there is a singing lesson where the composer, Rossini, allows Rosina to perform a song of her own choosing “ad libitum”. In San Francisco, the piano was pushed on stage, and Melba, a fine pianist, accompanied herself singing one of America’s favourite songs of the day, Stephen Foster’s “Old Folks at Home”. And, when the applause had died down a little, she followed up immediately with “The Star Spangled Banner”.

A local reporter noted: “People rose in their seats and cheered themselves hoarse.” The audience wept – the diva with them. Problem solved.

Sadly there are no recordings by her of those songs, nor of The Barber of Seville, so here she is singing (dazzlingly) the Jewel Song from Gounod’s Faust in 1905

 

If you’re a SOTH subscriber following by email please go to the actual blog to get the full posting.

Love this article and want to read more by Roger then go to  http://rogerneill.blogspot.co.uk/

CLARA BUTT (1872–1936)

 By Tony Locantro

In Victorian and Edwardian times, there was a great vogue for female singers with deep,  contralto voices, who drew huge audiences to concerts of arias from operas and oratorios as well as popular ballads. Clara Butt (1872–1936) was one of the most famous and was under exclusive contract to The Gramophone Company from 1899, when she made her first recording on a 7-inch Berliner disc. A number of composers wrote songs specially for her, including Sir Edward Elgar (Sea Pictures) and Samuel Liddle (‘Abide With Me’).

She was such an important artist that the company gave her an exclusive rich dark blue label. Imagine the shock at The Gramophone Company’s headquarters at Hayes when it became known in 1915 that Madame Butt had been poached by the company’s arch-rival, the Columbia Graphophone Company! She re-recorded all her principal repertoire for Columbia and remained with them until the end of her career. Sir Thomas Beecham once remarked of her powerful voice that on a clear day one could have heard her across the English Channel.

  

Listen to Clara Butt rendition of Land of Hope and Glory (Benson/Elgar) Recorded: June 25, 1930. If you’re a SOTH subscriber following by email please go to the actual blog to get the full posting.

Thank you to our friends at the EMI Archive Trust in providing these fine images.

 

The bass-baritone Peter Dawson (1882–1961)

  By Tony Locantro

gat134-018-LFCourtesy of  © EMI Group Archive Trust

The bass-baritone Peter Dawson (1882–1961) came to the UK from his native Australia to study singing in 1903. His lessons with Sir Charles Santley stood him in good stead for a career that lasted almost 60 years and encompassed every kind of music, from the oratorios of Handel via Gilbert and Sullivan to rousing patriotic ballads and popular songs of the day.  He began recording in 1904 on cylinders for the Edison company, and in 1906 Fred Gaisberg signed him to an exclusive contract with the Gramophone Company. His first flat discs were on the G&T label but he was soon appearing on HMV when the dog and trumpet trademark started being used on Gramophone discs around 1909. He went on to become one of the most prolific recording artists of all time and remained exclusive to HMV for the rest of his life.

As well as his own name, he used many aliases, including Hector Grant, the pseudonym under which he performed the repertoire of Harry Lauder, not only on disc but also on the music hall stage in full Scottish gear, much to Lauder’s annoyance.

Listen to Dawson give a fine rendition of  “The Song of Australia“.   Written by English born poet Caroline Carleton in 1859 for a competition sponsored by the Gawler Institute. If you’re a SOTH subscriber following by email please go to the actual blog to get the full posting.

A stirring version of Dawson’s  Rule Britannia  is featured on the new double CD Scott’s Music Box, released on 14 May.

Captain Scott’s Desert Island Discs. A flavour of what were the happening sounds in Antarctica 100 years ago

This article was written by and published on theartsdesk 11 April 2012

 
The gramophone on which Scott and his men listened to music hall and opera at the bottom of the world
 

Centenaries are sizeable business in 2012. It just so happens that the Olympics are coming to the United Kingdom for the third time in a year which finds us thinking very hard about if being British still means the same thing as it did 100 years when two momentous calamities singed themselves into the national psyche: the Titanic sank, and Captain Scott and his four companions never made it back from the South Pole.

Adam Sweeting has already reported on the deluge of Titanica fanning across the television schedules from National Geographic docs to Drownton. The Scott industry is spreading itself more widely across the year. As well as three exhibitions – at the Natural History Museum, the Queen’s Gallery and the National Museum of Wales – you can also enjoy a musical flavour of what it was like to be a the bottom of the world with the Terra Nova expedition by investing in a new double-disc CD. On it is a selection of scratchy recordings Scott and co took south with them to remind them of home in the long polar night. In fact they had a library of hundreds of tunes to listen to, and the choice can do no more than suggest the range of musical tastes catered for, from Enrico Caruso to Nellie Melba, from Harry Lauder to Weber’s Concertino for horn. Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” was on hand to gird the loins as the men prepared to strap themselves into man-hauling harnesses. For many of the jauntier tunes some of the chaps will dressed up in drag and danced along.

The records were donated to the expedition by The Gramophone Company (nowadays known as EMI), along with two splendid old gramophones, one of which is on display at the Natural History Museum’s current exhibition. The main track listing concludes with “God Save the King”. Two additional tracks include Ernest Shackleton taking about his own unsuccessful attempt on the Pole three years earlier. There is a piquant irony to its inclusion. Scott and Shackleton had history, and were not friends, although that did not stop Scott using Shackleton’s expedition journal as a useful pathfinder. The full track listing of Scott’s Music Box is as follows.

CD 1:

  1. The Black Diamonds Band – Dollar Princess Two Step
  2. The Dollar Princess Operatic Party – Opening Chorus (The Dollar Princess)
  3. George Grossmith Jr – Yip-I-Addy-I-Ay (Our Miss Gibbs)
  4. Margaret Cooper – Love is meant to make us glad (Merrie England)
  5. R. Kennerley Rumford – Four Jolly Sailormen (The Princess of Kensington)
  6. Huntley & Carroll – The Golf Scene (Three Little Maids)
  7. Yvette Guilbert – I want yer ma honey
  8. Band of HM Coldstream Guards – Trafalgar March
  9. Walter Miller – We all walked into the shop
  10. Florrie Forde – Oh! Oh! Antonio!
  11. George Robey – The Prehistoric Man
  12. Harry Lauder – Stop your tickling, Jock!
  13. Harry Tate – Motoring
  14. Gus Elen – Wait till the work comes round
  15. Olly Oakley – Anona Two-Step
  16. John Coates – Take a pair of sparkling eyes (The Gondoliers)
  17. Eleanor Jones Hudson – The sun whose rays are all ablaze (The Mikado)
  18. The Sullivan Operatic Party – When Britain really ruled the waves (Iolanthe)
  19. HM Band of the Royal Artillery – The Blue Danube Waltz
  20. Stanley Kirkby – The Trumpeter
  21. Harry Dearth – A Sergeant of the Line
  22. Clara Butt & R. Kennerley Rumford – Night Hymn at Sea
  23. Edward Lloyd – The Holy City
  24. Elizabeth Dews – O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion (Messiah)
  25. A Church Choir – Hark, the Herald Angels Sing

CD 2

  1. Geraldine Farrar – Un bel dì vedremo (Madama Butterfly)
  2. Enrico Caruso – Recitar!…Vesti la giubba (Pagliacci)
  3. Nellie Melba – Waltz Song (Roméo et Juliette)
  4. Titta Ruffo – Largo al factotum (Il barbiere di Siviglia)
  5. Luisa Tetrazzini – Ombra leggera (Dinorah)
  6. Maurice Renaud – Serenade (Don Giovanni)
  7. Mattia Battistini · Emilia Corsi – Là ci darem la mano (Don Giovanni)
  8. Jan Kubelík – Chanson bohème (Carmen)
  9. Enrico Caruso – Mattinata
  10. Nellie Melba – Nymphes et sylvains
  11. Evan Williams – I’ll sing thee songs of Araby
  12. Edward Lloyd – Come into the garden, Maud
  13. Charles Draper – Weber: Concertino
  14. La Scala Theatre Orchestra – The Ride of the Valkyries (Die Walküre)
  15. Joseph Szigeti – Bach: Prelude (Partita No.3)
  16. Wilhelm Backhaus – The Harmonious Blacksmith
  17. Peter Dawson – Rule Britannia
  18. Ernest Pike – The Light of the World
  19. Robert Radford – Honour and Arms (Samson)
  20. Clara Butt – Abide with me
  21. Band of H. M. Coldstream Guards – God Save the King

BONUS TRACKS

  1. Major Sir Ernest Shackleton – The Dash for the South Pole
  2. Stanley Kirkby – ’Tis a story that shall live forever
  • Scott’s Music Box is released on 14 May

http://www.theartsdesk.com/classical-music/captain-scotts-desert-island-discs

If your interested in learning more about Captain Scott’s Gramophone check out EMI Group Archive Trust website.

http://www.emiarchivetrust.org/detail.aspx

 

Marshall, Jim 1923 to 2012

This obituary was written by Adam Sweeting and printed in the Guardian on 6 April 2012 

Jim Marshall

Jim Marshall in 2000. Almost everybody who rocked over 40 years used his equipment. Photograph: Robert Knight/Redferns

When Jim Marshall, who has died aged 88 of cancer, opened a music store in 1960, his customers included some of rock’n’roll’s most prominent guitarists. They wanted a new type of amplifier. Marshall seized the opportunity and built it for them. His work would earn him the nickname the Father of Loud.

Marshall was born in Kensington, west London, to Beatrice and Jim Marshall. Jim Sr owned a fish and chip shop in Southall. Tuberculosis of the bones caused his son to be encased in a plaster cast from his ankles to his armpits during most of his school years. From the age of 13, he took a series of jobs, from builder’s merchant to shoe salesman to baker in a biscuit factory. Medically unfit for military service in the second world war, he taught himself about engineering from books, and in 1946 became a toolmaker at Heston Aircraft, where he stayed for three years.

John Entwistle in 1966.

John Entwistle in 1966. His lust for more volume led to the creation of Marshall’s classic 100-watt amplifier. Photograph: Chris Morphet/RedfernsMeanwhile, he had successfully auditioned to sing with an orchestra at a Southall dance hall, earning 10 shillings (50p) a night. He then joined a seven-piece band, and when the drummer was called up for national service, Marshall took over. His idol was the big band drummer Gene Krupa, and after taking lessons he started to teach himself at the end of the 1940s. Marshall recalled that “I taught Mitch Mitchell who joined Jimi Hendrix, Micky Burt of Chas and Dave, Mick Waller with Little Richard and Micky Underwood who played with Ritchie Blackmore.”

Marshall saved enough money to start his own business, building loudspeaker cabinets for musicians. He found an especially keen market among bass players who were fed up with being blotted out by noisy lead guitarists and were looking for some powerful amplification of their own. But after a year of this, he changed tack and opened his own music store in Hanwell, west London, initially specialising in selling drumkits. 

“Then the drummers brought their groups in, including Pete Townshend, and said why don’t you stock guitars and amplifiers, which I knew nothing about.”

Apart from Townshend, his guitar-playing customers included Blackmore, soon to find fame with Deep Purple, and the renowned session player Big Jim Sullivan. They told Marshall that they wanted amplifiers with a different sound from the then-popular Fender models, which had a clean but non-raunchy tone. Marshall teamed up with his shop repairman, Ken Bran, and the EMI technician Dudley Craven, and they produced their first amplifier in September 1962. According to Marshall, it was the sixth prototype that gave birth to the powerful and throaty “Marshall sound”.

Demand for Marshall amplifiers and matching loudspeaker cabinets steadily increased, and in 1964 the first full-scale factory opened in Hayes, with a staff of 16 making 20 amplifiers a week. The following year Marshall signed a global distribution agreement with the instrument suppliers Rose Morris, though he later felt his progress had been hampered by their uncompetitive pricing policies.

However, top musicians were clamouring for Marshall’s amplifiers and their hard-driving sound, including Eric Clapton – for whom Marshall created the “Bluesbreaker” amp-and-speakers combo – and Townshend and John Entwistle of the Who, whose lust for more volume led to the creation of Marshall’s classic 100-watt amplifier. It was at Townshend’s request that Marshall developed the stackable loudspeaker cabinets, or “stacks”, that became a familiar part of the stage scenery for countless bands. Meanwhile, Hendrix bought a package of equipment, plus technical maintenance, from Marshall.

Almost everybody who rocked over the next 40 years would use Marshall equipment, from Jeff Beck, the Small Faces and Guns N’ Roses to Pink Floyd, Elton John, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, U2, Metallica and Nirvana. In 2003 he was appointed OBE for his services to music and charity. He is survived by his children, Terry and Victoria, and his stepchildren, Paul and Dawn.

• James Charles Marshall, amplifier manufacturer, born 29 July 1923; died 5 April 2012

The tenor Edward Lloyd (1845–1927)

By Tony Locantro

 

The tenor Edward Lloyd (1845–1927) had a distinguished career for some 30 years as a leading oratorio and concert singer and was considered by some to be the foremost tenor exponent of that genre during the last quarter of the 19th century. He retired in December 1900, a few months after singing the lead in the disastrous premier of Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius in Birmingham, at which the chorus and orchestra were under-rehearsed and Lloyd himself was not in good voice. But the Gramophone Company coaxed him into the recording studio in 1904 and eventually made some 34 titles up to 1908, and one more in 1911 after he emerged from retirement to sing at the coronation of King George V.

 

In February 1907 he ceremonially cut the first sod at the site of the factory of The Gramophone Company at Hayes, Middlesex.  

Thank you to our friends at the EMI Archive Trust in providing these fine images.