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Singing for World Peace

Donald Macleod on Novello's mother's plans to visit Germany and sing for Hitler. With excerpts from Careless Rapture, Crest of the Wave, Arc de Triomphe and The Dancing Years.

Ivor Novello's Mam plans to visit and sing for Hitler.
Presented by Donald Macleod

Ivor Novello's Drury Lane musicals were box-office sensations, and more popular than the likes of Oklahoma or Brigadoon. At the height of his career Novello not only had plays and musicals running in London, but also four other productions of his spectacular musicals touring the country, to say nothing of amateur productions as well. Part of the attraction was Novello himself. He was a huge celebrity on both sides of the Atlantic. Novello was an actor and playwright for both stage and screen, credited with coining the phrase Me Tarzan, You Jane, and with his matinee-idol looks he was hailed as the next Valentino. His charisma and infectious personality charmed many, so that when he died, thousands turned out to line the streets to see the hearse pass on its way. This week, a first for Composer of the Week in its over seventy-year history, Donald Macleod luxuriates in the theatrical and charismatic world of Ivor Novello, with many works specially recorded for the series. He's joined by one of Novello's biographers, David Slattery-Christy, and also explores what was once Novello's flat with Billy Differ. Donald also goes behind the scenes in Novello's London theatre-world accompanied by Rosy Runciman, with a trip to the Prince of Wales and Novello Theatres.

With the success of Novello's first musical, Glamorous Night, there followed in quick succession further sell-out musicals including Careless Rapture, Crest of the Wave and, in 1939, The Dancing Years. They were all huge successes. The Dancing Years relied less on spectacle and more on solid plot, representing Novello's horror at the treatment of Jewish composers in Austria and Germany. The Lord Chamberlain's Office required Novello to change certain elements of the show, in particular all references to the Nazis. It was during this build-up to the Second World War that Novello's mother, "Mam", decided to form her Welsh Singing Grandmothers Choir and head to Germany. The plan was to sing to Hitler in Berlin for World Peace. They made it as far as Amsterdam, and were then accompanied home again.

Careless Rapture - Overture
New World Show Orchestra
Kenneth Alwyn, conductor

Careless Rapture - Why Is There Ever Goodbye?
Marilyn Hill Smith, soprano
The Chandos Concert Orchestra
Stuart Barry, conductor

Crest of the Wave - Why Isn't It You?
Jeremy Northam, voice
Christopher Northam, piano

Crest of the Wave - Haven of Your Heart
Olive Gilbert, contralto
Drury Lane Theatre Orchestra
Charles Prentice, conductor

Crest of the Wave - Rose of England
Ivor Emmanuel, baritone
Rita Williams Singers
The Michael Collins Orchestra
Michael Collins, conductor

We'll Remember
Kitty Whately, soprano
Simon Lepper, piano

Clear the Road to Glory
Kitty Whately, soprano
Simon Lepper, piano

The Dancing Years - Primrose
Marilyn Hill Smith, soprano
The Chandos Concert Orchestra
Stuart Barry, conductor

The Dancing Years - I Can Give You The Starlight
Vanessa Lee, soprano
Michael Collins Orchestra
Michael Collins, conductor

Arc de Triomphe - Easy to Live With
Kitty Whately, soprano
Simon Lepper, piano

Arc de Triomphe - Dark Music
Elizabeth Welch, vocalist
Drury Lane Theatre Orchestra
Charles Prentice, conductor

Arc de Triomphe - orchestral medley
Phoenix Theatre Orchestra
Hary Acres, conductor

Arc de Triomphe - Josephine
Lorna Dallas, soprano
Studio Ensemble

Producer Luke Whitlock.

1 hour

Music Played

  • Ivor Novello

    Careless rapture - overture

    Conductor: Kenneth Alwyn.
    • EMI:3359862.
    • EMI.
    • 7.
  • Ivor Novello

    Careless rapture - Why is there ever goodbye?

    Conductor: Kenneth Alwyn.
    • EMI:3359862.
    • EMI.
    • 7.
  • Christopher North

    Crest of the wave - Why isn't It you?

    • Decca:4703872.
    • Decca.
    • 19.
  • Ivor Novello

    Rose of England

    Performer: Ivor Emmanuel. Choir: Rita Williams Singers. Orchestra: Michael Collins and his Orchestra. Conductor: Michael Collins.
    • EMI: 3359852.
    • EMI.
    • 24.
  • Simon Lepper

    We'll Remember

  • Simon Lepper

    Clear the road to glory

  • Marilyn Hill Smith

    The Dancing Years - Act 2 Primrose

    • Chandos: CHAN9142.
    • Chandos.
    • 2.
  • Ivor Novello

    The Dancing years - I can give you the starlight

    Orchestra: Michael Collins and his Orchestra. Conductor: Michael Collins.
    • EMI:3359862.
    • EMI.
    • 20.
  • Simon Lepper

    Arc de Triomphe - Easy to live with

  • Lorna Dallas & Studio-Ensemble

    Arc de Triomphe - Josephine

    • Harbinger Records: HCD1502.
    • Harbinger Records.
    • 13.

Broadcast

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