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- Anthony Collins - Elizabeth Macochy -

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ANTHONY COLLINS indicates (autograph below) that he hails from Hollywood; he was, in fact, born in Hastings, a coastal resort on the south coast of England on 3 September 1893! Collins' early orchestral experience was from the age of seventeen as a viola player in the Hastings Municipal Orchestra. The orchestra numbered around forty musicians and was engaged to play light music and to support visiting performers.
Collins served in the British Army during the 1914-18 War and In 1920 he went to the Royal College of Music in London to study violin (with Serge Rivarde) and composition (with Gustav Holst).   He later joined the London Symphony Orchestra as a viola player and soon became the leader of the viola section.

    In 1936 Herbert Wilcox, the British film producer, invited Collins to compose the music for the film, 'Queen Victoria', starring Anna Neagle (Wilcox's wife). The film was a great success and in 1938 Collins was asked to provide the music for its sequel, 'Sixty Glorious Years'. In 1939, he went to the USA to compose and conduct for films at the RKO studios in Los Angeles. He also travelled to other towns and cities in the USA, including New York, as visiting conductor.

    In 1945, Collins returned to England where he continued composing for British film studios. In the same year, at the invitation of the BBC, he conducted a broadcast performance of the musical, 'Rose Marie' from Bedford School. The autograph (below right) was obtained on that occasion.AutographCollins.jpg - 31135 Bytes

    Collins also became involved with ENSA (the Entertainments National Services Association which was formed during the war to provide entertainment for the troops; the initials were alternatively interpreted as 'Every Night Something Awful'!) and went on concert tours with the London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Liverpool, Halle, and Birmingham orchestras as their conductor. Later, he alternated between the UK and USA as a orchestral conductor and in 1953 led the London Symphony Orchestra on a visit to New York.

    His early 1950s Decca recordings of the Sibelius symphonies and tone poems are still highly prized by collectors.

    Collins died in Los Angeles on 11 December 1963. He will be particularly remembered for his light music composition, ‘Vanity Fair’; he also composed two symphonies, two violin concerti, four short operas, chamber music and numerous film scores. Among the films to which he contributed are:
    Victoria The Great (1936)
    Sixty Glorious Years (1938)
    Allegheny Uprising (1939)
    Nurse Edith Cavell (1939)
    Swiss Family Robinson (1940)
    Tom Brown's Schooldays (1940)
    Destroyer (1943)
    Forever and a Day (1943)
    Piccadilly Incident (1944)
    The Fabulous Texan (1947)
    Odette (1950)

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ELIZABETH MACONCHY was born in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, England in 1907. After the First World War she and her family moved to Ireland. Although the family was not musical, Elizabeth had begun to compose piano pieces at the age of six. In Ireland she continued piano, harmony and counterpoint lessons. Sadly, her father died of tuberculosis in 1922. In 1923, at the age of 16, she entered the Royal College of Music in London and initially studied piano. She later moved into composition under Vaughan Williams and Charles Wood.

    Maconchy was hailed as one of the most brilliant students at the RCM. In 1930 a performance under Sir Henry Wood at a Promenade Concert of her orchestral suite, ‘The Land’ was much acclaimed. In the 30's she went to study in Prague and Vienna. Unfortunately in 1932 she developed tuberculosis but, after returning to the south coast of England, she subsequently recovered. She continued to compose and later married the medical historian, William LeFanu.maconchy1.jpg - 21772 BytesThey had two daughters Anna and Nicola. Nicola LeFanu also became a well-known composer.

    Between 1933 and 1984 Maconchy wrote a series of pieces for string quartet which brought her much credit. Later works include 7 operas, ‘Music for Brass and Woodwind’ (1966), the dramatic monologue ‘Ariadne’ (1970) for soprano and orchestra and ‘Héloise and Abélard’ a cantata for soprano, tenor, baritone, chorus and orchestra in 1979. Other choral works include settings of Dylan Thomas's ‘And Death Shall Have No Dominion’ for choir and brass (1969) and Louis MacNeice's’ Prayer Before Birth’ (1971).

    Her orchestral works include a dramatic Concertino for clarinet and string orchestra (1945), a bassoon concerto (1952) and ‘Proud Thames’ which won a competition for a Coronation overture in 1953.

    Elizabeth Maconchy was awarded the CBE in 1977 and created a Dame of the British Empire in 1987. She died in 1994.

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