Albert Ketelbey (full name Albert William Ketelbey) was born on 9 August, 1875 in Alma Street, Aston, the son of a teacher at the Vittoria School of Art.
Biography and Career :
Albert Ketelbey was head chorister at St Silas's Church, Lozells, and at the age of 11 he composed a Sonata for Pianoforte which he played not long afterwards to an admiring Edward Elgar. In 1998, the manuscript for this work came up for auction at Sotheby's. It was purchsed by the City and is now in the Archives of the Central Library.
He displayed a talent for music at a young age, and by his teens was composing classical pieces. He attended Trinity College of Music in Oxford, beating out Gustav Holst in a scholarship competition. Although Albert Ketelbey achieved some critical recognition for hi
s choral and chamber works, his greatest success was in descriptive pieces, much along the lines of Delius's "In the Fens," but with much more exotic subjects.
Albert Ketelbey's "In a Persian Market," "In a Chinese Temple Garden," and "In a Monastery Garden" were very popular with theater orchestras and in sheet music form. Although this type of music is now out of style, it was well considered at the time - Albert Ketelby was in some ways the last of a line that included Johann Strauss and Franz Lehar.
After a further spell as a student at Fitzroy College, London, Albert Ketelbey attended the Trinity College of Music, where he beat the runner-up, Gustav Holst, for a musical scholarship.
Albert Ketelbey distinguished himself in numerous fields, especially in composition. His first works were in the classical style and a Quintet for Strings was awarded the Sir Michael Costa prize.
However, Albert Ketelbey developed a talent for descriptive writing and, of all his many works, it is those of this genre, In a Monastery Garden, In a Chinese
Temple Garden, and In a Persian Market that show Albert Ketelbey's ability to catch atmospheric tone.
Once, whilst conducting a programme of his own music at a Royal Command Performance, Albert Ketelbey gave a second rendering of the State Procession Movement of his Cockney Suite during the interval, at the request of King George V, who had arrived too late to hear it performed at the beginning of the programme.
He was active in several other fields including being music editor to some well-known publishing houses and for some years Musical Director of the Columbia Graphophone Company.
Albert Ketelbey was a popular conductor and was well esteemed in the theatre world where he conducted for Andre Charlot at the Vaudeville Theatre, London
. Albert Ketelbey also conducted many concerts of his own works in London and the Provinces and, as guest conductor with well-known orchestras on the continent, including the Amsterdam
Concertgebouw. His reputation on the continent was probably higher than in his own country. In fact, a Viennese
music critic once said of Ketelbey's music that it came second only to that of Johann Strauss and Franz Lehar.
Albert Ketelbey passed away on 26 November, 1959 at his home, Egypt Hill, Cowes, Isle of Wight, aged 84.
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