Jump to content

Bramwell Thornett - Concertina Player


Recommended Posts

I just came across this page I'd never seen before where David Thornett (pianist) writes about his father - a concertina player. There's quite a few recordings too (mostly with piano). I think he plays a Crane duet.

 

 

Well discovered, Danny, and thanks for bringing it to our attention. Impressive!

 

MC (frustrated Crane player, amongst other things!)

Edited by malcolm clapp
Link to comment
Share on other sites

... he often wrote about the concertina in Salvation Army magazines ...

And doing a little Googling I've found references to a couple of them:

 

“Rediscovering the Salvation Army’s Second Official Organ.” in The Musician. (20 July 1974) p.368

 

"Concertina Cameos.” in The Musician. (21 June 1978)

As well as some information about him from Chapter 9, The Concertina as an instrument of Sacred Music, of Stuart Eydmann's The Life and Times of the Concertina: the adoption and usage of a novel musical instrument with particular reference to Scotland (pages 165-6):

 

The Salvation Army produced a number of outstanding players of the duet concertina. W. Bramwell Thornett, who was born in Dundee in 1905, was regarded as one of the best. His parents, who had been stationed in Glasgow just prior to that time, were both players of the Anglo-German concertinas but Bramwell preferred the Crane Duet system because “it is suited to chord work”. Resident in Felixstowe, Suffolk, in the mid-1980s, he counted himself as one of the “very few players remaining, in or out of the Army I fear”. He credited the introduction of the Crane system into Army useto Brigadier Archie Burgess, an “artistic soloist in his time”. In addition to formal religious performance, he was always in great demand as a soloist at secular events such as keep-fit classes, disabled persons meetings, old people’s groups and children’s parties, where he played music from “Acker Bilk to Beeethoven”, including novelty numbers such as the imitations of bells and bagpipes. He always preferred to perform with a pianist or, when an accompanist was unobtainable, with backing tapes of piano or additional concertina parts prepared by himself.

 

Bramwell lamented the abandonment of the concertina by the Army and in an article published in 1974, around the same time as folk musicians were beginning to rediscover the instrument, he called for a revival of “part playing” on the “classical concertina”. His recommended repertory included popular and light “classics” with some mid-nineteenth century concertina music added for impressive solo performance:

 

Canzonetta from Concerto in D - Tchaikowsky

To the Spring - Grieg

Sheep may safely graze - Bach

On Wings of Song - Mendelssohn

Violin Sonatas - Haydn

LiebesliedKreisler Romanze op40 - Beethoven

Melodie d’Amour - Engelmann

Serenata - Braga

Jesu, joy of man’s desiring - Bach

“for devotional meetings”

 

Czardas - Monti

Light Cavalry - Suppé

“for contrast, revealing the more brilliant style of playing the concertina”

 

Simple marches Various

“but requiring restraint and artistry"

 

Concertina Arrangements George - Case

Edited by Stephen Chambers
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just to let those who have contacted me about these recordings ,that I have sent an Email to request including Bramwell Thornett on the forthcoming Duet International.

Thanks to all of you who sent me Emails about this wonderful playing.

Al

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A serious question asked in all humility; what is so special about his playing? He has a good accompanist and plays the melody and occasional held harmony notes and that seems to be it. It seems trivial stuff for a duet player. What have I missed that you, Alan, and all those enthusiasts who emailed you have picked up on?

 

It all sounds nice enough, but...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

“Rediscovering the Salvation Army’s Second Official Organ.”

 

Here you are having a nice discussion about playing the Concertina while I'm sniggering away like a 12 year old at the back of the class. I really need to grow up (sigh) :o

 

- W

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A serious question asked in all humility; what is so special about his playing? He has a good accompanist and plays the melody and occasional held harmony notes and that seems to be it. It seems trivial stuff for a duet player. What have I missed that you, Alan, and all those enthusiasts who emailed you have picked up on?

 

It all sounds nice enough, but...

 

I think you are reffering to the earlier pieces of these recordings, that as you suggest a Duet player with a little bit of experience could achieve with a good pianist.It was the playing on "Glory to God in the Highest" and "Sweet and Low" that I enjoyed. I thought it was played with great feeling and good technique ,but this is only my point of view and if you disagree we shall not fall out over it.

Al

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just came across this page... I think he plays a Crane duet.

Nice find Danny! A few related quotes from ICA Newsletters:

 

April 1968:

Brig. Thornett of the Salvation Army tells us that he is to visit Wigan on the week-end of October 12 and 13th. Members will recall his exceptionally high standard of Duet playing, and will want to hear the new additions to his repertoire - "Sheep May Safely Graze", and "Andante Cantabile".

 

May 1968:

B. Thornett, 308 Whitefoot Lane , Bromley, Kent, says he "could do with a 55 key Crane Duet, and a cheap 48 English" if anybody has one for sale.

 

Nov. 1968

Brigadier Thornett was recently in Wigan, where he had a late music session with H. Topping and admired his Wheatstone Duets, and his enthusiasm. The local C.O. joined them for discourse. The Brigadier has also played solos in Plymouth, where there is an outstanding concertina band on which we have previously reported.

 

Jan 1969 Meeting

Only two solos, Duet Concertina by B.Thornett and English Concertina by Vena McDougall, but each a gem.

 

May 1969 Report on London Music Festival

W.B. Thornett was a newcomer among the duet competitors, and yielded first place to Maurice Harvey by a very narrow margin.

 

1977 Festival

Winner Class 4 - B. Thornett 95%

 

17th ICA Festival 1979:

The Duet Own Choice was a straight fight between Mr. Mills playing Fairy Wedding Waltz, Groningen and Petite Rien, and Mr. Thornett with Mozarts Violin Sonata No. 4. Mr. Thornett triumphed with 80 marks.

Edited by wes williams
Link to comment
Share on other sites

A serious question asked in all humility; what is so special about his playing? He has a good accompanist and plays the melody and occasional held harmony notes and that seems to be it. It seems trivial stuff for a duet player. What have I missed that you, Alan, and all those enthusiasts who emailed you have picked up on?

 

It all sounds nice enough, but...

 

I think you are reffering to the earlier pieces of these recordings, that as you suggest a Duet player with a little bit of experience could achieve with a good pianist.It was the playing on "Glory to God in the Highest" and "Sweet and Low" that I enjoyed. I thought it was played with great feeling and good technique ,but this is only my point of view and if you disagree we shall not fall out over it.

Al

I am also guilty here Dirge of not reading all the information provided

Sweet and Low is actually being played by Archie Burgess.

I had a nice chat this evening with David Thornett and he seems to be an authority on Salvation Army Music and has in fact composed some pieces for them,but he is not a concertina player sadly.

Al

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A serious question asked in all humility; what is so special about his playing? He has a good accompanist and plays the melody and occasional held harmony notes and that seems to be it. It seems trivial stuff for a duet player. What have I missed that you, Alan, and all those enthusiasts who emailed you have picked up on?

 

It all sounds nice enough, but...

 

I thought Mr. Thornett's playing was both interesting and musical even if it wasn't pushing the duet envelope. I enjoyed listening to these. I don't have to do the work so I'd vote for a 20 CD set and then I'd probably ask to hear the rejects as well! If someone saw fit to record a duet concertina, it would be worth it to me just give it a listen.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...