"The boy with the Golden Voice (of B.B.C. fame)" was the description given to Master Freddy Firth, as he topped the bill at the Baths Assembly Hall, Coventry on Thursday, 15th November, 1928.
Freddy Firth was trained by his uncle, and had a remarkable career as a boy soprano. His success followed the huge interest in boys' voices created by Ernest Lough's famous recording. In fact, Lough was still principal soloist at the Temple Church when Freddy made his last record.
This Lancashire boy came to prominence through the Morecambe and Blackpool Music Festivals, which were at that time two of the main festivals in the country. It was at Morecambe that he came to the attention of Sir Edward Elgar. One of his first public appearances was at the age of twelve-and-a-half, when he sang the anthem Jesu my Lord by Haddock at S. Barnabas's Church, Morecambe.
Frederick (John) Firth A: My heart ever faithful (J.S. Bach (1685-1750) from Cantata No. 68 (1725)) B: O Lord, whose mercies numberless (G.F. Handel (1685-1759) from oratorio "Saul" (1738) with wds from Bible selected by Charles Jennens) Both rec. c. Sept. 1928 with organ accomp. by Gerald Saxby. Retail price 4/6. Review by C.M. Crabtree in The Gramophone (Feb. 1929, p. 404): "healthy and natural, yet with a distinct sense of style." Gramophone and Talking Machine News (London, Feb. 1929, p. 67) commented "He has the most admired flute-like quality of tone, and has evidently been well taught in the manner of phrasing. The Handel and Bach arias he has been set to accomplish on [this] record are certainly rather a big mouthful, but he tackles them valiantly and comes off with flying colours. The record is one which, in certain circles, is likely to be in demand.
Both pieces now on Amphion CD "The Better Land" vol. 1, the Handel item apparently from a Columbia test pressing (WAX3303-1) of 10 March [or slightly earlier] 1928 with piano accomp. and not the original issue.
Frederick (John) Firth A: There is a green hill far away (hymn: wds Mrs Cecil Frances Alexander (1818-95), publ. 1848 - music Charles Francois Gounod (1818-93), 1871) B: Abide with me (hymn: wds Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1847), written 1847? after Luke 24:29 - music Samuel Liddle (1867-1951), 1896) Both rec. c. Sept. 1928 with organ accomp. Review by C.M. Crabtree in "The Gramophone" (Jan. 1929, p. 365): "he is practically free from priggish affectation, and from real vices and cheapness . . . it can also be said truly that his voice is as good as any, though as he does not slop over with insincere sentiment . . . there are sure to be some who will say he is not 'sweet'."
Frederick (John) Firth A: Land of Hope and Glory (wds Arthur Christopher Benson (1862-1925) - music Edward (William) Elgar (1857-1934) from Pomp and Circumstance Military March No. 1 (1901), op. 39, no. 1 - first arr. with Benson's wds as section VII (Finale) of Coronation Ode (1902; revised 1911), op. 44 and then publ. separately in Apl. 1902 for voice & piano as song "Land of Hope and Glory", with many further arr., esp. by the organist & choral conductor Arthur Fagge (1864-1943)) B: God Bless the Prince of Wales (song publ. in 1862 with Engl. wds by George Linley (1798-1865) (incipit: Among our ancient mountains.) & Welsh wds by John "Ceiriog" Hughes (1832-87) (incipit: Ar D'wysog gwlad y bryniau.) - music Henry Brinley Richards (1819-85)) Both rec. c. May 1929, with male voice choir. Released 1929?
Frederick (John) Firth If there were dreams to sell (song, 1918: wds Thomas Lovell Beddoes (1803-49), publ. posthumously in "Poems" (1851) under title "Dream-Pedlary" - music John Nicholson Ireland (1879-1962)) Rec. Sept. 1928 with piano accomp. Issued from unpubl. Brunswick test pressing (B.A.347) on Amphion CD "The Better Land" vol. 1.
Frederick (John) Firth Serenade (in Engl. - incipit: "Thou my lover thou should'st hear not all that I would sing" - F.P. Schubert (1797-1828): Stšndchen "Leise flehen meine Lieder" from Schwanengesang (D957, no. 4, 1828; orig. Ger. wds Rellstab)) Rec. 10 March 1928 with piano accomp. Issued on Amphion CD "The Better Land" vol. 1 from Columbia test pressing (WAX3304).
Individual CD's £10 each plus postage. The Better Land set of 6 CD's is available from StephenRBeet@gmail.com
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As well as chapters on Iwan Davies, Derek Barsham, and Denis Wright, amongst others there are also chapters under the following headings: The Temple Boys, The Manchester Boys, The Music Hall Boys, The Fleeting Boys, and The Broadcast Boys.
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This book is available for the cost of postage and packing only if the set of six The Better Land CD albums is ordered.