TOMLINSON: First Suite of English Folk-Dances

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Ernest Tomlinson (b. 1924)


Long regarded as one of the leading figures in the field oflight music, Ernest

Tomlinson was born at Rawtenstall, Lancashire on 19th September, 1924 into a musical family. He started composing when he was only nine, atabout the same time that he became a choirboy at Manchester Cathedral, where hewas eventually to be appointed Head Boy in 1939. Here, and at Bacup and RawtenstallGrammar School, his musical talents were carefully nurtured, and he was onlysixteen when he won a scholarship to Manchester University and the RoyalManchester (now Northern) College of Music. He spent the next two yearsstudying composition, organ, piano and clarinet until, in 1943, the war effortdemanded that he leave and join the Royal Air Force. Defective colour-visionprecluded his being selected for aircrew and the new recruit, having hisrequest to become a service musician turned down on the grounds that he was toohealthy to follow such a career, found himself being trained as a Wireless Mechanic,notwithstanding that many of the components he was required to work with were colour-coded.

(The future composer, however, was duly delighted with his assignment, which hethoroughly enjoyed and which almost certainly contributed to a later interest inelectronic music). He saw service in France during 1944 and 1945, eventuallyreturning to England where, with the cessation of hostilities, he was able toresume his studies. He finally graduated in 1947, receiving the degree ofBachelor of Music for composition as well as being made a Fellow of the RoyalCollege of Organists and an Associate of the Royal Manchester College of Musicfor his prowess on the King of Instruments.


Ernest Tomlinson then left the North of England and headedsouth to London where, for several years, he worked as a staff arranger forArcadia and Mills Music Publishers, providing scores for radio and televisionbroadcasts as well as for the stage and recording studios. He maintained hisinterest in the organ by taking up a post at a Mayfair church, butincreasingly, composing came to play the dominant rôle. He had his first piecebroadcast in 1949 and by 1955, when he was able to earn his living entirely bycomposing, he was to be heard on the radio with his own Ernest Tomlinson LightOrchestra and later with his group of singers. While not neglecting thelarger-scale forms, including several works in symphonic-jazz style, the firstof which, Sinfonia '62, won the million-lire First Prize in the Italiancompetition for "Rhythmic-Symphonic" works, three concertos, aone-act opera Head of the Family, a ballet Aladdin, Festival of Song forchorus and orchestra as well as a substantial and varied body of works forchoir and music for brass and wind bands, it was as a writer of light orchestralpieces that he was to become best-known. In this area, he has produced aconsiderable number of works ranging from overtures, suites and rhapsodies todelightful miniatures, of which Little Serenade is probably the mostpopular.


From the time that he first directed a church choir when hewas just seventeen, Ernest Tomlinson has been active as a conductor, firmlybelieving that involvement in performance is vitally important for a composer.

From 1951 to 1953, he was musical director of the Chingford Amateur Dramaticand Operatic Society in Essex. In 1976, he took over the directorship of the RossendaleMale Voice Choir from his father, Fred, a post he held for five years, duringwhich time he led the singers to victory in their class in each of the threeyears of BBC Television's Grand Sing Competition. Not long afterwards, inassociation with the Rossendale Ladies Choir and its conductor Beatrice Wade,he helped form the Rossendale Festival Choir which quickly went on to win anumber of competitions. Then, at the official retiring age of 65, he foundedyet another new group, the Ribble Vale Choir, with which he is still activelyinvolved.


In the orchestral field, Ernest Tomlinson has oftenconducted performances of his own works, one of the most notable occasionsbeing in 1966 when he was on the rostrum in the Tchaikovsky Hall, Moscow forhis Symphony '65, played by the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra and BigBand - the first time a symphonic jazz work had been heard in Russia. In hishome country, he was responsible for the founding of the Northern ConcertOrchestra, with which he gave numerous broadcasts and concerts, the emphasisbeing on the light orchestral repertoire.


A man of boundless energy, Ernest Tomlinson has also foundtime to serve for several years on the Executive Committee of the Composers'Guild of Great Britain and was its Chairman in 1964. In addition, he has been acomposer-director of the Performing Rights Society since 1965. In 1984, hefounded The Library of Light Orchestral Music, which is housed in a hugebarn at his farmhouse home near Longridge, Lancashire, and currently containsaround 10,000 pieces, including many items that would otherwise have been lost.

And finally, his wartime training has been put to excellent use in his abilityto utilise technological developments within the musical sphere, whether by realisingscores electronically or by perfecting computer publishing and cataloguingsystems.


Much respected by fellow professionals in the musical world,as witness his receipt of the Composers' Guild Award in 1965 and two Ivor NovelloAwards (one for his full-length ballet Aladdin in 1975, the other for servicesto light music in 1970), Ernest Tomlinson's services have been called upon inother areas as well. A keen sportsman, he played wing-threequarter for theprestigious Saracens Rugby Union Club and then for Chingford in Essex. For manyyears he could be found padded up and ready to do battle on behalf of Eynsfordvillage cricket team in Kent and, later, his home town of Longridge inLancashire. He still enjoys an early morning cycle ride, while for relaxationhe lists do-it-yourself, electronics and, last but by absolutely no meansleast, the joys of family life - of which, with a wife, tour children and eightgrandchildren, there are many.


This, then, is Ernest Tomlinson: composer, conductor,organist, administrator, librarian - and consultant for Marco Polo's BritishLight Orchestral Music series.


[1] Comedy Overture


Comedy Overture was written in 1956, a new year ofsome significance for Ernest Tomlinson since he was now free from theresponsibilities of full-time employment. The freedom to devote his time to hisown compositions acted as a spur to invention and this Comedy Overture was

the first work written under those new circumstances. Clearly this was ahappy time, as the piece bustles along in ebullient mood from the outset. Aftera fanfare-like opening the overture is built around two contrasting themes, anenergetic opening one and a contrasting jocular second theme. There is acalming in the middle section as if taking stock of the themes alreadypresented, before the overture builds to a reworking of the opening section.

The overture ends with a confident flourish based on the opening of the work.


      First Suite of EnglishFolk-Dances

Item number 8223513
Barcode 730099351324
Release date 05/01/2000
Label Marco Polo
Media type CD
Number of units 1
Artists Watkins, Richard
Watkins, Richard
Composers Tomlinson, Ernest
Tomlinson, Ernest
Conductors Tomlinson, Ernest
Tomlinson, Ernest
Orchestras Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
Producers Khouri, Murray
Khouri, Murray
Disc: 1
A Georgian Miniature
1 Comedy Overture
2 No. 1 Jenny Pluck Pears
3 No. 2 Ten Pound Lass
4 No. 3 Dick's Maggot
5 No. 4 Nonesuch
6 No. 5 Hunt the Squirrel
7 No. 6 Woodicock
8 Pizzicato Humoresque
9 Serenade
10 Waltz for a Princess
11 Shenandoah
12 Cumberland Square
13 Rhapsody and Rondo for Horn and Orchestra
14 Passepied
15 Rigadoon
16 Birdcage Dance
17 Cushion Dance
18 Belly Dance
19 A Georgian Miniature
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