Forgotten work by great grandfather to get brass band premiere as part of Littleport Brass Band Christmas concert
PUBLISHED: 14:49 06 December 2019 | UPDATED: 17:58 06 December 2019
Hidden in the first half of the annual Christmas concert on December 14 in Littleport is a tune never before played by a brass band anywhere or at any time.
But it isn't a new composition.
It was written and published in 1904 as a piano solo - and lost, together with all his many works, in 1919 after the untimely death of the composer.
His name was Herr Lion de Swarte and having come to England with a Dutch orchestra as lead violin, and falling in love with the country, he decided to bring his wife and young family to live here in 1896.
They settled in Sussex where Herr de Swarte, as he was always called, formed his own small orchestra who were kept busy giving concerts and given residencies at the best hotels like The Grand in Eastbourne.
He also made orchestral arrangements that were used by other orchestras and bands and was often mentioned in the newspapers of the day as an excellent artist in his own right when he gave performances as a violin virtuoso at town halls and other more community orientated venues.
He certainly impressed a well-known patron of the arts - and Olympic sportsman - the 8th Baron Seaford Lord Howard De Walden, who provided him with a large house so that he could be nearer to him and thus he could hear this musical combo that the Baron called his 'Palm Court' orchestra more often.
Then in 1904 Herr Lion de Swarte composed a stirring piece of music he named 'The Swordsman's March' dedicated to his friend and patron. It was published by J E Dallas of The Strand priced at 4 shillings, about £20 in today's currency.
One copy of that piano solo is all that was left of the extensive body of work after the composer's death in November 1919 was disposed of, we know not by whom. And no one knew of its existence.
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I am his great granddaughter and I was looking through the entries in Google for L. de Swarte when I saw his name in full, the title of the music and where it was lodged -in a sheet music warehouse.
I rang them, told the story of the family's loss, they looked to see if there was any more music, but no, that was the only piece.
I bought it immediately and looking up the baron found that they were a racing family too and had stables in Snailwell a village close to Littleport where his son the 9th baron spent his childhood!
I'm a great fan of Littleport Brass and its musical director Ian Knapton.
And when I told Ian about my discovery he suggested he could arrange it for brass.
I heard it rehearsed for the first time at the grand reopening of the band room along with my partner Cathy, the president of Littleport Brass Bill Sharpe and his wife Joan and the chairman of Littleport Parish Council Clive Webber and his wife parish and ECDC councillor Joanne.
It will now be publicly premiered on December 14 in Littleport, 100 years after the death of its composer and 115 years after it would have been heard as a piano solo in concert.
Littleport Brass will be playing their annual Christmas Concert at the 14th century St George's Parish Church in Littleport on the evening starting at 7pm.The first half will be non-Christmas melodies, and the second half totally Christmas.