Tuesday 1st November 2011

"O man of learning!"

'Silent Witness; or, Tales of a Musical Detective'


Talk by Dr David Russell Hulme,
conductor, musicologist, expert on British music, well known for his research and publications on Sullivan.
The Norman Beckett meeting.

Dr Russell Hulme


The 'eminent musico' Dr David Russell Hulme gave a unique scholarly insight into the scoring of the Gilbert & Sullivan comic operas.

Until the 1970's little research from primary sources had been undertaken, or indeed was even possible. The problems of locating and viewing the originals seemed insuperable. A few full scores are in public institutions, but most are either in private hands or across the Atlantic. Fortunately, the publisher Roger Harris possesses micofilm of the works, and a complete study for PhD research was possible.

The core comic opera of David's research career has been RUDDIGORE (at present in the repertoire of Opera North). In the 1987 Sadler's Wells production much of the original Ancestors' March was re-instated, having been cut either just before or after the first night. The recording was played - unfamiliar to most of us; and a good reason to re-visit our CD collections.

Other rediscovered music followed : e.g. the Rule Britannia ending to PINAFORE (which was the ending for many years).

Two recordings of David's reconstructions were also played : The Duke's Song from PATIENCE (an attractive piece, now often included in productions); and the newly-created Lady Sangazure song from THE SORCERER. This was premiered with style by Jill Pert recently at the Sir Arthur Sullivan Society convention . A broadcast of the latter is imminent. As David emphasised, these reconstructions are realised (largely) from a study of the evidence in the remaining, incomplete band parts. They are not meant to be the imaginings of a composer inspired by the bare outlne of the incomplete material!

This is a fascinating area of G&S study, bringing scholarship to an enduring theatrical phenomenon. It is to be hoped that one day there might be a publication of The Lost Songs of Gilbert & Sullivan.

Christopher Irvin Browne BA(Hons)


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