1st February – Thomas Dunhill
|Dunhill (1st February 1877 – 13th March 1946) is our composer for 1st February, to mark the day of his birth.|
|Lifespan: 69 years|
|Genre: 20th Century|
|Education: Royal College of Music|
|Fame Ranking: 5|
Born in London and buried in Scunthorpe, Dunhill was an English composer who spent his career at the very heart of the British music establishment. He entered the Royal College of Music at the tender age of 16, and went on to become a teacher there and at the prestigious Eton College.
Dunhill began by composing relatively light-hearted works, such as operettas. He then turned his hand to chamber music and produced a large number of short-ish pieces many of which were and still are used by the ABRSM in their examinations. From 1906 he was also a senior examiner for the ABRSM and frequently travelled abroad conducting exams for them. He has 101 listed works in total, covering a broad range of genres, from light opera and ballet to chamber music and songs. His most well-known work is probably the song “The Cloths of Heaven” which was a setting of W. B. Yeats’ poem and is part of a song-cycle entitled “The Wind Among the Reeds”, which is scored for tenor voice and orchestra.
Dunhill is pretty much unknown by name as a composer, despite his ability to pen a fine melody and his polished workmanship. Any readers who have taken ABRSM practical exams, particularly in piano, have probably played something by him at some point however, perhaps without paying much attention to his name. His works are still gradually increasing in popularity and some good recordings are available to purchase.
Here is a wonderful 1944 recording of the “Cloths of Heaven”, sung by Thomas L. Thomas. Something about the 1940’s recording style really fits this song in my opinion, and I like this version better than many more modern ones although the sound quality is, of course, a bit crackly.
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Listen to more works by Dunhill – click the box!