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The Cobbett Memorial Competition - 1955

At a Court Meeting on 12th October 1954, Pastmaster and Treasurer W. Graham Wallace, informed the Court that the newly re-formed (by him while Master 1952/3, as it had fallen into abeyance during the 1930s) Livery Club wished to institute and fund a Phantasy Quartet Competition to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Cobbett Competition of 1905 (Click Here for more details). The Proposal was agreed and a Committee established to define the precise conditions of the Competition.

The report of this Committee was presented and discussed at the next Court Meeeting (25th January 1955). It was recommended that a prize of 50 Guineas be offerred for a Chamber work for 3, 4, or 5 instruments and a playing time not to exceed 30 minutes. The Judging panel was:

Sir Arthur Bliss

Dr Herbert Howells

Dr Edmund Rubbra


Click Here to see relevant pages from the Minutes (MB13,pp.166-7)

Shown left is the Leaflet distributed widely by the Company to advertise the Competition. By April 1955, 102 applications for 'particulars' had been received by the Clerk (but no actual submissions). A full year then elapsed until on the 10th April 1956 it was announced at a Court Meeting that the Competition's Prize should be awarded to Mr John Exton for his four movement, String Quartet composition (entitled Qualis Artifex Pereo).

John Exton (1933 - 2009), shown right, was a British composer of classical music. He was leader of the National Youth Orchestra at age 17, was awarded Doctor in Music in 1963 and in 1966 emigrated to Australia.

Click Here to read some reminiscences about this composer by his friends. Click Here to see a short Wikipedia entry.

Shown left is a thank-you letter from Exton following receipt of the 50 Guinea prize. He includes a few biographical details and a promise to send a 'set of parts' for the Quartet. These arrived about a week later (see Exton's letter, shown right).

Only one prize was awarded in this competition, but a second and indeed third placed entry was selected and the composer informed. In second place was Mr Wilfred Josephs and awarded third place was Mr R.Tremain. Letters to this effect are shown left.

The autograph manuscript of Exton's winning entry is held by the Company, the original envelope and front cover is shown right and the score is presented below.


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