In 1901 the Company held a competition for a new March to be played during the Coronation festivities of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra the following year. A prize of 50 guineas was to be awarded to the winner and the adjudicators were to be Sir Frederick Bridge, Sir Walter Parratt (Master of the King’s Musick) and Sir Hubert Parry. There were 189 competitors, the winner was Mr Percy Godfrey (1859-1945) shown left in a 1902 press cutting; click to expand and show the cutting's text. He was Master of Music at King’s School, Canterbury. This decision was reported at a Court Meeting on 21st January 1902.
The March was played at the Coronation in August 1902 and sales of the sheet music were significant, raising £866 for the Company, which was donated to the King Edward VII Hospital Fund. On 12th February 1903, the Master, Wardens and Clerk visited St James's Palace and presented a cheque for this amount to HRH Prince of Wales (later George V), together with a bound copy of the March. This activity was noted in the Court Minutes and included a couple of newspaper reports of the event. The relevant page (MB8,p102) is shown right - click for an expanded view.
On the 20th March 1902, a full page article appeared in the Daily Express that discussed the competion and that the £50 prize had been won by Mr Godfrey. The article also included a facsimile of the Thank You note sent by him to the Company.
Click on the image left to see an expanded view.
Percy Godfrey's winning March can have had few performances since that Coronation Day, although in the book: Europe, Empire, and Spectacle in Nineteenth-century British Music, edited by Rachel Cowgill and Julian Rushton (2006), the March was "...turned into a Hymn tune by Sir Frederick Bridge and was also featured as the overture of an imperial ballet (staged at the Empire Theatre) called Our Crown." - Click here to visit that book online.
In December 2010, it was performed as a Voluntary following the Company’s Carol service at the church of St Michael, Cornhill.
Click on the red triangle below, to hear a performance of the Coronation March, recorded at St John the Evangelist, Upper Norwood, London in July 2013:
This recording of Percy Godfrey's Coronation March is from a Compilation CD published in 2014 called 'The Crown Imperial' from Somm Recordings (ref: SOMMCD 0138).
The performance is by the London Symphonic Concert Band, conducted by Tom Higgins.
Please visit www.somm-recordings.com where this recording can be purchased on CD (cover shown left)
Some years after being made a Liveryman in 1902, Percy Godfrey donated many of his manuscript scores to the Company (including three operas) in the hope that they might be published, but he never repeated his earlier success. Shown right is a 1928 letter from Mr Godfrey thanking the Musicians' Company for giving 'harbourage' to his works (which are still retained).
The Company also retains autograph manuscript scores from twelve unsuccessful entries to this Competition and they can be seen by Clicking Here.
One of the applicants was the celebrated choir director, organist, composer and founder of the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM), Sir Sydney Hugo Nicholson MVO (1875-1947), see image left.
At around the time of the 1902 Coronation celebrations, silk square replicas of the score were made, showing the images of the new King and Queen. It is not known whether these were distributed only to members of the Company but recently one of them (see right) has been given to the Company by Pastmaster John Iles. Now restored and conserved, it is perhaps a unique example of this remarkable Coronation souvenir. It's about 20" square, mounted in a cardboard box.
Although no autograph manuscript is known to have survived, the Guildhall Library contains a printed copy of the Coronation March, published by Metzler & Co. in 1902. The pages from this document are shown below - click on an image to enlarge and scroll through, click on Go to link to expand further.
Interestingly, the Company also owns a ticket to the actual Coronation at Westminster Abbey in 1902, which was in the name of 'Mr Iles'. Further details by Clicking Here.
A "Grand Coronation Concert" was held at the Royal Albert Hall on June 11th 1902 - a souvenir programme for which is held by the Company and is shown below. Inside, is a photograph of John Henry Iles who was the |Honorary Director and Organiser of the Concert and of the Coronation Prize Fund which donated so much to the King Edward's Hospital Fund. In John Henry's hand on that page is a parental dedication to his son Eric (Mr H.F.B.Iles, eventually to become Master of the Company in 1954). Click Here for more information on John Henry.
Click on an image below to enlarge and scroll through, click on Go to link to expand further.
Click Here to see further biographical details of Percy Godfrey and recollections by Mr John Searle who was personally acquainted with the Composer. The image right is Percy Godfrey's own Virgil Practice Clavier which was bequeathed to Mr Searle in 1945 - grateful thanks to Mrs Rosemary Searle for this photograph and for providing the text.
Following Mr Searle’s death in 2017, his widow Rosemary generously donated to the Musicians' Company Archive a collection of Percy Godfrey’s manuscript scores.
The works in question are all, with one exception, believed to be unpublished:
Symphony no 4 in E - Full orchestral score - 1928
Symphony no 4 in E - Piano arrangement - 1928
Suite de ballet: Scenes from The Woodlanders by Thomas Hardy
Full orchestral score - 1944
‘In the Woodlands’
‘Midsummer Night Dance’ (Village Girls)
‘Valse Romance’ (The Lovers)
‘Rustic Wedding Procession’
Trio in B flat for Clarinet (or Violin), ‘Cello and Piano
Instrumental Full Score - 1936
Dance of the Midgets - Piano - 1912
Ballade no 10 - Piano - 1918
Nocturne - Piano - 1920
Nocturne - Piano - 1921
Gigue - Piano - 1939
Valse Sinistre - Piano - 1940
Ballade no 12 - Piano - 1941
Piano Suite on Shakespearian Themes - Piano - 1941
‘Come Away, Come Away Death’
‘Oh Mistress Mine’
‘Dance of the Satyrs’
‘Hark, Hark the Lark’
Intermezzo - Piano - 1943
Valse - Piano - 1943
A Song of May - Piano - 1943
Dirge - Piano - 1943
March: Dignity - Piano - 1943
Dance: Frivolity - Piano - 1943
The Willow Song - Piano - 1943
Sylvia - Piano - 1943
Carnaval Romain (Published) - Piano duet - 1890
Plus a small quantity of fragments.
A selection of some first pages of these works are illustrated below, with the kind permission of Mrs Searle, to whom we are most grateful.