Compact Discoveries
a series of one-hour radio programs produced, written, hosted, and edited by Fred Flaxman
©2002 by Fred Flaxman


Program 16
"Hats Off to Coates"

MUSIC: Coates: Halcyon Days from The Three Elizabeths Suite [Academy Sound and Vision ASV CD WHL 2053, track 1] [Down and under...]

FLAXMAN: This is the beginning of Halcyon Days, the first movement of The Three Elizabeths Suite by the British composer, Eric Coates: C-o-a-t-e-s. It was also the theme music for the old British television series, The Forsyte Saga. And now it signals the start of a Compact Discoveries radio program saluting the music of Eric Coates. I'm your guide, Fred Flaxman, and I call this program "Hats Off to Coates."

MUSIC: fades out

FLAXMAN: Eric Coates, who lived from 1886 to 1957, was the uncrowned king of the British light orchestral music of his day. His father was a doctor and amateur musician. His mother was a good piano player. He learned to play the violin at an early age, switching to the viola later, and he became first violist in Sir Henry Wood's Queen's Hall Orchestra.

But, around 1907 to 1908 he began to notice a weakness and aching in his left hand which was to get slowly worse over the years. He was eventually forced to give up the viola entirely and devote himself completely to composition.

Coates had majored in composition at the Royal Academy of Music. His father let him try the academy out for a year, although he thought his son should go into banking, not music, for a living. Coates had to prove that he could earn money from music that first year, or he would not have been allowed to continue. The training was rigorous and Coates had to work hard to make enough progress to keep the dreaded bank career from happening.

But it wasn't all work. He was, after all, 20 years old and a student. So his days were interspersed with episodes of boisterous high spirits, including one notorious occasion when he was involved in the firing of a loaded pistol in the Academy's men's room. This to the considerable detriment of the facility's plumbing.

This fun-loving spirit is very evident in Coates' music, which we shall experience for the rest of this hour as performed by the East of England Orchestra conducted by Malcolm Nabarro on their first professional recording. Although it dates from 1991, it was still in print last time I looked. It is on the ASV label from Academy Sound and Vision, Limited, a British company.

Let's start with Coates' masterpiece, The Three Elizabeths Suite, which was written in 1943 during some of the worst days of World War II. The idea was to link the past, present and future Queen Elizabeths. The first movement, Halcyon Days, depicts the adventurous times of Elizabeth the First. The second movement, Springtime in Angus, plays tribute to the late Queen Mother. The final movement, The Youth of Britain, is a march inspired by the present queen, who was then 18. All three movements are linked by a common theme: the theme that was so effectively used in the original television serialization of John Galsworthy's epic novel, The Forsyte Saga.

MUSIC: Coates: The Three Elizabeths Suite [ASV Digital CD WHL 2053, tracks 1, 2 and 3] [21:34]

FLAXMAN: Eric Coates' The Three Elizabeths Suite. The East of England Orchestra was conducted by Malcolm Nabarro.

You are listening to "Hats Off to Coates" on Compact Discoveries. I'm your guide, Fred Flaxman.

Next on this tribute to the music of Eric Coates we hear his valse-serenade, By the Sleepy Lagoon, which was written in 1930. For many years it introduced the BBC radio program Desert Island Discs.

MUSIC: Coates: By the Sleepy Lagoon [ASV Digital CD WHL 2053, track 5] [4:00]

FLAXMAN: By the Sleepy Lagoon by Eric Coates. Malcolm Nabarro conducted the East of England Orchestra.

You are listening to "Hats Off to Coates" on Compact Discoveries. I'm your guide, Fred Flaxman.

[optional one-minute break not included in 58-minute total timing]

Next we'll hear these same musicians from the same compact disc recording perform Coates' London Suite. It, like the Three Elizabeths Suite, is in three movements. The first, Covent Garden, depicts in a tarantella the mayhem of the fruit market, appropriately working in the old folk tune, Cherry-ripe. The second movement, Westminster, includes bell chimes, of course. The final movement, Knightsbridge, is a march.

MUSIC: Coates' London Suite [ASV Digital CD WHL 2053, tracks 7, 8, 9] [14:25]

FLAXMAN: The London Suite by Eric Coates. Malcolm Nabarro conducted the East of England Orchestra.

You are listening to Compact Discoveries. I'm your guide, Fred Flaxman. Next on today's "Hats Off to Coates" program is Eric Coates' The Three Bears.

This delightful piece was written in 1926 for the composer's son on his fourth birthday. The Three Bears story can be followed easily. The main theme, for example, fits the words "Who's been sitting in my chair."

MUSIC: Coates' The Three Bears [ASV Digital CD WHL 2053, track 6] [9:40]

FLAXMAN: The Three Bears by Eric Coates performed by the East of England Orchestra conducted by Malcolm Nabarro on an ASV compact disc.

We heard the London Suite by Eric Coates earlier in the program. It was so successful, he wrote a sequel called the London Again Suite. It was also divided into three movements, and I'll close this hour with its first section: "Oxford Street." Adrian Leaper conducts the Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra of Bratislava on a Marco Polo CD.

MUSIC: Coates: London Again Suite: Oxford Street [Marco Polo 8.223445] [3:27]

FLAXMAN: Well, I hope you enjoyed the happy, tuneful music of Eric Coates' "Oxford Street" from his London Again Suite. That wraps up this hour of Compact Discoveries. I'm Fred Flaxman. Thanks for listening.
[58:00]


30-Second Promo for Program Number 17
"Music for Halloween"

MUSIC: SFX: The Legend Lives from Scary Music [Telarc CD-80580, track 1]

FLAXMAN: Next time on Compact Discoveries the theme will be "Music for Halloween." Join me, Fred Flaxman, for some of the scariest music in the classical music catalog.

TAG: [________ at ___ p.m. on _____, _____-FM.]

MUSIC: fade out at 30 seconds

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