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Eric Coates

August 27, 1886 - December 21, 1957
born in Hucknall, Nottingham, England, composed during the Modern period
Eric Coates was perhaps the most important composer of symphonic light music in the first half of the twentieth century outside the Viennese sphere. He took the music genre and made it into as bona fide and influential an art form as that created by any member of the Strauss family. He is often regarded as the Mozart of a music world whose generally light emotional expression is colored by splashy orchestration and perky rhythms. Yet, his music featured an elegance and aristocratic air and could capture moods and, in stage works, story lines with deftly vivid imagery. Among his important compositions are the 1930 ballet Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, revised eight years later and re-titled The Enchanted Garden; and Springtime Suite from 1937. Even though Coates composed music in a less serious genre, he must be regarded nearly as highly as England's other important figures from his time, Vaughan Williams, Sir Arnold Bax, and Gustav Holst.

The youngest of five children, whose physician father was an amateur flutist and whose mother was an accomplished pianist, Eric began study on the violin at age six. Later on he took up the viola. He showed no serious interest in composing until age 20 when he entered the Royal Academy of Music, where he studied viola with Lionel Tertis and composition with Frederick Corder.

In the period between 1908 and 1909, he wrote his first vocal works: Four old English Songs and Stonecracker John. In 1910 he began playing the viola in the Beecham Symphony Orchestra and shortly afterward got a similar post in the Queen's Hall Orchestra, under Sir Henry Wood. He turned out his first orchestral work, the Miniature Suite, in 1911. Two years later, Coates married 18-year-old Phyllis Black, who would write lyrics for him and be of immense help to him throughout his career. Because of a progressive neuritis in his left hand and arm, Coates was exempt from military service during the war years. By 1919, however, the condition forced him to give up his first-chair viola post in the Queen's Hall Orchestra.

In 1927, Coates composed his orchestral suite Four Ways, which achieved considerable popularity. Perhaps his greatest success, though, came with the 1933 London Suite, which contained a section called "Knightsbridge," a march that took on a life apart from the suite when it was used to introduce the BBC radio program In Town Tonight, which became familiar to virtually every British listener during its 27-year run.

When his wife began working for the Red Cross in 1940, Coates was moved to write Calling All Workers, whose theme was subsequently used by the BBC for another radio show, Music While You Work. The orchestral suites Four Centuries (1942) and Three Elizabeths (1944) merely solidified his position now as the composer of the most familiar British music of all time.

In the postwar years, Coates continued to turn out popular scores, like Music Everywhere (1949). The composer continued to be active as a conductor in his last years, taking up the baton at one notable Promenade concert in August 1956, after Sir Malcolm Sargent had led the orchestra in a Tchaikovsky work. The 70-year-old Coates led the ensemble in his Four Centuries Suite and drew an enthusiastic response from the audience. Coates suffered a stroke and died on December 23, 1957. ~ Robert Cummings, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Coates: Songs

Title: Rise Up And Reach The Stars, For Voice & Piano

1. Rise Up And Reach The Stars, For Voice & Piano: Rise Up And Reach The Stars - Richard Edgar-wilson

Title: At Vesper Bell, For Voice & Piano

2. At Vesper Bell, For Voice & Piano: At Versper Bell

Title: The Young Lover, For Voice & Piano

3. The Young Lover, For Voice & Piano: The Young Lover - Richard Edgar-wilson

Title: The Grenadier

4. The Grenadier: The Grenadier - Richard Edgar-wilson

Title: Orpheus With His Lute, For Voice & Piano

5. Orpheus With His Lute, For Voice & Piano: Orpheus With His Lute

Title: Under The Greenwood Tree, For Voice & Piano

6. Under The Greenwood Tree, For Voice & Piano: Under The Greenwood Tree

Title: Who Is Sylvia? For Voice & Piano

7. Who Is Sylvia? For Voice & Piano: Who Is Sylvia?

Title: It Was A Lover And His Lass, For Voice & Piano

8. It Was A Lover And His Lass, For Voice & Piano: It Was A Lover And His Lass

Title: Because I Miss You So, For Voice & Piano

9. Because I Miss You So, For Voice & Piano: Because I Miss You So

Title: Sigh No More, Ladies, For Voice & Piano

10. Sigh No More, Ladies, For Voice & Piano: Sigh No More, Ladies

Title: Tell Me Where Is Fancy Bred, For Voice & Piano

11. Tell Me Where Is Fancy Bred, For Voice & Piano: Tell Me Where Is Fancy Bred

Title: First Meeting: Souvenir For Viola & Piano

12. First Meeting: Souvenir For Viola & Piano: First Meeting: Souvenir For Viola And Piano

Title: The Fairy Tales Of Ireland, For Voice & Piano

13. The Fairy Tales Of Ireland, For Voice & Piano: The Fairy Tales Of Ireland

Title: Music Of The Night, For Voice & Piano

14. Music Of The Night, For Voice & Piano: Music Of The Night

Title: Betty And Johnny, For Voice & Piano

15. Betty And Johnny, For Voice & Piano: Betty And Johnny - Richard Edgar-wilson

Title: Mill O' Dreams, For Voice & Piano

16. Mill O' Dreams, For Voice & Piano: Back O' The Moon (Prelude)

17. Mill O' Dreams, For Voice & Piano: Dream O' Nights

18. Mill O' Dreams, For Voice & Piano: The Man In The Moon

19. Mill O' Dreams, For Voice & Piano: Bluebells

Title: When I Am Dead, For Voice & Piano

20. When I Am Dead, For Voice & Piano: When I Am Dead

Title: Little Green Balcony, For Voice & Piano

21. Little Green Balcony, For Voice & Piano: The Little Green Balcony

Title: Ship Of Dream

22. Ship Of Dream: Ship Of Dream

Title: Outlaw's Song

23. Outlaw's Song: The Outlaw's Song

Title: Your Name

24. Your Name: Your Name

Title: Beautiful Lady Moon

25. Beautiful Lady Moon: Beautiful Lady Moon

Title: Princess Of The Dawn, For Voice & Piano

26. Princess Of The Dawn, For Voice & Piano: Princess Of The Dawn

x

Track List: Eric Coates: London Again

Title: Footlights (Concert Waltz)

1. Footlights (Concert Waltz): Footlights (Concert Waltz)

Title: Three Men Suite

2. Three Men Suite: The Man From The Country

3. Three Men Suite: The Man From About Town

4. Three Men Suite: The Man From The Sea

Title: The Selfish Giant, Fantasy For Orchestra

5. The Selfish Giant, Fantasy For Orchestra: The Selfish Giant, Fantasy For Orchestra

Title: London Again, Suite For Orchestra

6. London Again, Suite For Orchestra: Oxford Street - March

7. London Again, Suite For Orchestra: Langham Place - Elegie

8. London Again, Suite For Orchestra: Mayfair - Valse

Title: Cinderella, Phantasy For Orchestra

9. Cinderella, Phantasy For Orchestra: Cinderella, Phatasy For Orchestra

Title: Summer Days Suite, For Orchestra

10. Summer Days Suite, For Orchestra: In A Country Lane

11. Summer Days Suite, For Orchestra: On The Edge Of The Lake

12. Summer Days Suite, For Orchestra: At The Dance

Title: Television March

13. Television March: Television March

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