Ernest Tomlinson MBE
September 19th 1924 – June 12th 2015
How do you condense an account of the life of such an amazing person into a few paragraphs? Well, we have tried. Although primarily a man of music, there was so much more to him than that. The family have contributed anecdotes and memories to this account, though it can’t cover everything. We hope you will enjoy reading about him and seeing photos that show different facets of his personality and life. We hope too that you will continue to enjoy his music, and support the legacy of light music that he has left behind.
Ernest was born in Rawtenstall, Lancashire, into a very musical, though poor, family. His father, Fred Tomlinson, was a keen amateur singer who founded and conducted the Rossendale Male Voice Choir. Ernest, the second child of Fred and his wife May, was introduced to music and singing from an early age and in 1933 he won a scholarship to the Manchester Cathedral Choir School. He was followed there by his younger brothers, James and Fred Jnr. James went on to work in electronics design and Fred achieved fame and success with the Fred Tomlinson Singers, who provided the music for many a Monty Python and Two Ronnies sketch. The sister, Freda, became a head teacher and, amongst many other interests, was an enthusiast of the English Folk Dancing tradition. It was to her that Ernest dedicated his successful Suite of English Folk Dances.
Without the money from the choir school scholarships they could not have afforded the train fares into Manchester or the uniforms for the school. Fred Snr. was foreman in a local slipper factory. May had been a pupil teacher. It was a financial struggle to support the family, and feeding four energetic children was no joke. All four children were sporty as well as musical and were forever hungry. They were fed on all sorts of food that today’s pampered generation would consider inedible. Tripe, cowheel, any sort of offal, bread and dripping and every variety of milk pudding were usually on the menu. One of his mother’s sayings was, “Bread’s the meal, jam’s the extra.” Nevertheless, there was enough to eat ,and once at the cathedral meals were provided there. Ernest continued to enjoy such delicacies as tripe, and one of his favourite meals was jellied eels.
There was never a time when music was not an integral part of family life. Fred Snr. gave singing lessons in the front room of their little terraced house and musical evenings were a regular feature. On one occasion, when Ernest’s mother was putting him to bed, his could hear his father training a singer. The very young Ernest asked who was singing. His mother replied with the name of the pupil and informed him that the man was “a tenor”. Ernest was so impressed with the voice that he wondered what “an elevener” would sound like.
Ernest began composing aged 9, and the cathedral musical training was a good start to his chosen career, although the rest of the education was somewhat deficient. His parents encouraged him in his compositional output and his father’s workmates were keenly interested in the prowess of the family. It was fortunate that Ernest was interested to study subjects other than music, such as maths. His mother, an able mathematician, helped him with school work and he also gained some individual tuition from teachers who couldn’t be bothered with other pupils who wouldn’t learn. In 1939 ET became Head Boy and his education improved somewhat when the choir school was evacuated to Thornton. There was more time for ordinary lessons, so he was able to pass his School Certificate and thus secure a place in the sixth form at Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar School. Music was not on the curriculum so he informed the headmaster he would teach himself.
At BRGS he naturally became involved in any music making on offer. He made opportunities for ensemble playing and also started a school orchestra. His younger brother, James, was also at the school and said he was bullied into playing the piano. Many of ET’s compositions were in piano duet form, but also he was exploring the works of the great masters whose works were often published as piano duets. Jimmie simply had to learn to sight-read. “Don’t stop playing! Keep going!” Ernest would shout. Jimmie always felt he owed his ability to play the piano to Ernest.
During that year at BRGS an opportunity arose that was too good to miss. A scholarship to Manchester University was being offered that only came up every two years. Ernest knew that his family couldn’t afford to support him through university so, even though he was only 16, he applied. This of course led to him studying composition at Manchester University, and organ, piano and clarinet at the Royal Manchester College of Music. His composition teacher at the university was Humphrey Procter-Gregg who had studied under Stanford. “PG” encouraged all his composition pupils to write as much as possible, and even after call-up Ernest used to send him his work for comments. PG’s harmonic clock had stopped before the chromaticism of the later romantics but that didn’t stop ET from experimenting. On one occasion, after listening to a performance of a fairly outlandish Tomlinson composition, PG said as he left, “I’ll speak to you later, my boy!”
Ernest’s studies were interrupted by call-up to the RAF. He had been an enthusiastic member of the ATC, but was barred from becoming aircrew when it was discovered he was colour blind. It seems odd that he had reached that age without having realised this, but nevertheless that was the case. Ironically the RAF then trained him as a Wireless Mechanic which also requires perfect colour vision. He managed to cope with the colour coding required with help from colleagues, thoroughly enjoyed the training and retained a strong interest in wireless and electronics throughout his life. Never one to hold back on things he volunteered to be part of a mobile signals unit, destination unknown, in 1944. His adventures from this time make fascinating and amusing reading and some of them were published in the Aeroplane magazine some years ago. He and the rest of the unit had to learn to drive in less than five days and then get from Chigwell to Portsmouth. There were no signposts and the whole unit of lorries and a motorcyclist messenger took the wrong turn onto the North Circular Road. They ended up back where they’d started four hours later.
They eventually reached the coast but the crossing to France was a nightmare of sea-sickness made more hideous by a recurrent crashing from the cargo deck. This turned out to have been caused by a tank that had broken loose from its moorings on one side. On disembarking it was found to be Ernest’s lorry that had been damaged. His driver door never did open. He and the team landed on the beaches on D-Day plus a few months into a US area and no-one knew what to do with them. Eventually they decided they might as well head for Paris (well, why not?) and there were relieved to find that someone was actually expecting them. They were sent to a joint US Airforce and RAF aerodrome at Juvincourt, France. ET recounted how proud and excited he had been when, after setting up the transmitter and modifying it to work properly, he heard for the first time a damaged plane responding to his call sign and how it was safely guided in to the aerodrome. In later years he incorporated some of his memories, and some Morse code, into his composition Aerofantasy for concert band. When working on programming for the Marco Polo CDs in the early 1990s he was most amused to receive a tape from Trevor Duncan whose music was to be recorded next. Trevor had also been a wireless mechanic in the RAF (air crew not ground crew) and he had recorded a message to ET in Morse code!
Returning to his studies post-war Ernest graduated in 1947. He won the Edward Hecht prize for composition and also achieved his FRCO. He knew that London was the place to go for a musical career but the next six months were filled with disappointment as all his job applications were rejected. He doggedly continued applying for any musical job on offer and had almost given up when, in December 1947, he was rewarded with two jobs. One was as organist at a Mayfair church, the other as a music copyist for a firm of arrangers and music publishers. Not content with mere copying he pestered for arranging work, and in 1948 he was promoted to staff arranger. He arranged hundreds of scores for a wide variety of artistes, orchestras and bands, for radio, television, recording and the stage. His compositions also received attention.
At the end of 1948 Ernest was in a secure enough financial position to consider marriage. He married his childhood sweetheart, Jean Lancaster, in October 1949 and the first broadcast of one of his compositions took place while they were honeymooning in the Lake District. Coincidentally the piece chosen was Passepied, written whilst still a teenager to impress Jean. Their first child, Ann was born in 1950. The Tomlinsons bought a house in Chingford in Essex and there added the second and third of their four children.
Life in Chingford was busy and varied. Some of ET’s earliest conducting experience was gained as Musical Director of Chingford Arts Circle. He conducted them in several successful productions. Always a keen sportsman, he played rugby for Chingford and was also picked to play for the Saracens ’A’ fifteen a couple of times. Ann, the eldest daughter, recalls regularly being taken to watch him play rugby when she was only very small. On one occasion he was hit on the head and suffered concussion. He played on (as you do) but at the end of the game couldn’t remember anything except that the little girl on the sideline was his. It was Ann who took him home that day. Next in age, Geoffrey, learned to walk by holding onto the back of ET’s trousers. Opus 3, as he often called Hilary, was also born at home and ET had already helped to deliver her safely before the midwife arrived. Naturally, he was somewhat harassed when he answered the door to the midwife. “Getting impatient are we?” she said, and then heard the baby cry. He always said he’d never seen anyone run upstairs as fast.
Ernest’s increasing success as a composer brought him more to the notice of the BBC. In 1955 he began broadcasting with his own light orchestra and also took the plunge to become freelance. The deciding factor came with a commission from the BBC who asked him to write the incidental music for a Christmas radio play The Story of Cinderella. He knew that he couldn’t continue working in publishing as an arranger and still fulfil such a big commission. The brief was to use as much of Eric Coates’ Cinderella music as possible and write the rest himself. Naturally, he decided to use as little of Eric Coates’ music as he could get away with! Before he had even put the phone down after that momentous call he already had the theme for the tune that was to become his greatest hit. Little Serenade began life as the love duet in the play and he confessed it was one of the easiest pieces he had ever written. It was later used as a signature tune which ensured its success. Vilem Tausky was so impressed by the Cinderella Waltz from the play that he took it with him when conducting in Vienna. The musical play was a success and was repeated the following year, with a further commission for a different story a year later. Incidentally, Eric Coates phoned to congratulate ET and said how much he’d enjoyed the music.
As well as writing much library music there were a number of commissions for concert pieces. He wrote several pieces for the BBC Light Music Festivals, including his Rhapsody and Rondo for horn and orchestra, for the horn virtuoso Dennis Brain. Ernest recalled how the orchestra had visibly blenched when Dennis demonstrated how fast he wished to take the Rondo section.
In 1957 Jean and Ernest decided to buy a detached house on a new housing estate in the charming village of Eynsford in Kent. There were several visits to watch how the building was progressing, and the family finally moved there in September 1958. Eynsford had a mainline railway station connecting it with London so Ernest was still able to get to London for his broadcasts, recordings and meetings. He worked at home most days but travelled to London two or three times a week. At weekends he was still often to be found indulging in his sporting pursuits. He played rugby for Sevenoaks, and cricket and football for the Eynsford teams. He was also an enthusiastic gardener when time permitted, although at first he despaired of the garden because it seemed to consist of nothing but flints. The walls he built with them are still there.
The fourth of the Tomlinson children arrived at Eynsford and a little sadness entered family life. Linda was born with Down’s Syndrome. However, both Ernest and Jean were determined that they would provide Linda with as many opportunities to develop as any child. Jean had trained as a primary school teacher and her training stood her in good stead with the new demands on her resources. Meanwhile the other children found that it was considered very unusual to have a father working at home and not always easy. Any visiting children had to be told to keep very quiet if he was in the throes of composition. But it had its positive moments too. Every Christmas ET went into the primary school to play the piano for carols and the songs the classes had learned from the BBC Singing Together programmes. It was also fun to listen to the test card music on TV and guess which pieces had been written by their father.
For Ernest’s children the production of his music was a mystery. He never composed at the piano but worked out most things at the desk in his study. Only when checking things over did he resort to the piano, and the noises that came out at that stage were never in the least like any music. He seemed to keep all the sounds in his head and only needed to play tiny fragments. As well as jabbing at the piano keys he would hum or whistle, in imitation of the various instruments he was scoring for. Anything more Stockhausen-like cannot be imagined. Quite frequently 78 rpm library discs were brought back after publisher recording sessions and proudly played on the hi-fi system he had built. The resultant lovely tunes couldn’t possibly have had anything to do with the awful noises ET made whilst sitting at the piano.
In 1962 came a new challenge. A competition for a symphonic jazz piece to be held in Italy came to the attention of the young composer. Ernest was fascinated by the idea and decided to enter the competition. As always he was thorough in his research and he wanted to make a work that truly blended the two idioms. Sinfonia ‘62 was the result. After sending the symphony off ET was delighted to find that he was one of the finalists and that his symphony would actually be performed. He was determined to go to Italy, being pretty certain he would never get another chance to hear it. Unfortunately, money was a bit tight at that time and he and Jean couldn’t afford air fares or to stay in a hotel. They decided to drive across Europe and camp. All the children cashed in their savings to help the expedition and were sent to stay with various relatives while their parents were away. Of course, ET won the competition. He left England with virtually no money and returned a million lire richer. It worked out at about £600 which in 1962 was a very large prize. The first performance in this country was in 1964 and its success led to other commissions and more recognition of his skill. Symphony ‘65 was a BBC commission and was broadcast from BBC Manchester. He later conducted the symphony in Moscow when he was one of a delegation of composers to Soviet Russia. It was the first time such a work had been performed in Russia as jazz was very much frowned upon. Other compositions in this genre are his Concerto for Five (five saxophones and orchestra) and Highway to the Sun which was written to describe the journey to Italy in 1962.
Aside from winning the competition, Ernest and Jean had enjoyed their camping trip to Italy so they decided that this was the way to see more of Europe. Every year from then on until the early 70s the children were packed up in the car with food, suitcases and a tent and a few weeks of travelling ensued. ET loved to go “off the beaten track” so never followed a foreseeable route. Countries were listed as destinations but any part might be visited. The family travelled over most of Europe during those years, including Poland and Czechoslovakia when both countries were still behind the Iron Curtain. Away on holiday the children were allowed to make a bit more noise although he always carried manuscript with him and could still halt proceedings in the middle of putting up a tent if a tune came to him.
Ernest was a vociferous supporter of composers’ rights and was unafraid take up the cudgels on behalf of his fellow musicians. He had joined the Light Music Society in its early days and soon became a committee member. He also joined the Composers’ Guild and became a Composer Director of the Performing Right Society. He became Chairman of the Composers’ Guild in [we think]1964 (the position was only ever for one year) and was voted in as Chairman of the Light Music Society in 1966. During this time he was extremely active in trying to keep broadcasts of light music going. He had a number of battles with high-profile decision makers in the BBC about the lack of opportunities for new light music. Indeed he several times made the headlines in the national press as a composers’ champion.
There were television appearances too during these years. He was chosen as one of a panel of experts in a musical quiz game called It Strikes a Chord. This ran for one series and was compèred by Steve Race. Another of the experts was the trombonist and comedian George Chisholm. ET was naturally able to identify most of the tunes that were featured. The only team that beat the experts was from the military academy Kneller Hall, and even then it was a close run thing.
The death of Jean’s father in 1967 caused another change of direction. The farm that Jean had grown up on was left to her and her two sisters. No-one wanted to sell and all felt they would like to live there even though they weren’t farmers. Jean and Ernest decided to move and, in spite of noisy opposition from their children who didn’t wish to leave their friends, schools and comfortable existence in Eynsford, the family left for Lancashire in September 1968.
Ernest could see all sorts of possibilities for the large barn adjacent to the farmhouse; none to do with farming. He had become very interested in electronic music and one of his many ideas was that he would eventually build an electronic music studio. He did experiment with electronic music and used electronics in some of his Aladdin ballet music but, as so often happens, circumstances changed and the barn was put to an altogether different use.
The move to Lancashire saw Ernest no less busy. As well as overseeing the building of the extension to the old farmhouse he took on orchestral management for a few years. He ran the Manchester Mozart Orchestra and also put on a number of light music concerts in the north of England with his own Northern Concert Orchestra. He applied for Arts Council support for this but was unsuccessful in his bid. The kind of music he wished to present in the concert halls was not to their taste. His concerts were very well received by the public but rarely received any media attention. He also broadcast with the NCO from BBC Manchester for several years during the early 1970s, until such programmes were stopped due to cuts in funding. His full-length ballet, Aladdin, commissioned by the Northern Dance Theatre, was written in the early 1970s and it had many performances over the whole country. The orchestral suite he made of dances from it won him his second Ivor Novello Award. The first had been for services to Light Music. He conducted the première of his popular and highly virtuosic Cornet Concerto at the Royal Albert Hall, played by Maurice Murphy with the Black Dyke Mills Band, in October 1974.
Ernest travelled to London at least twice a month for PRS, Composer’s Guild and LMS meetings and also to call in at the BBC music library for material for his broadcasts and concerts. This was when he discovered that the BBC were throwing away much of their light music. He asked for a particular arrangement that he had made only to be told, “It’s in that skip over there.” From then on his trips to London included bringing home packages of “unwanted” music. He already knew that the publishers were destroying performing material and had done his best to prevent some of that, but he was shocked that the BBC were throwing away music that they themselves had commissioned. It was also a matter of concern that many of the compositions and arrangements were by living composers and there was no attempt to find out if they wanted the material back. It was as if, having commissioned it, the BBC owned it and could therefore destroy it.
In around 1973 the Light Music Society entered a dormant phase. The monthly meetings had dwindled into little more than a session of complaints against the BBC and there was very little impetus for new initiatives. The Orchestra of the LMS had produced two LPs which were still popular and brought in a 2% royalty to the society. The orchestra continued to make some broadcasts for programmes such as Matinee Musicale until the BBC reduced the number of outside orchestras used. Ernest’s Northern Concert Orchestra still had a few broadcasts from BBC Manchester but these were gradually reduced and then cut altogether. The committee of the LMS met and agreed to become a “caretaker committee” with ET still acting as chairman. There would be no more meetings or newsletters, and the society was to be wound up once its income had stopped. In the event the society couldn’t be closed because more royalties came in from sales of the LPs. The committee agreed to wait for a suitable musical project that would benefit from the money.
In 1976, due to his father’s failing health, ET agreed to take over as conductor of the Rossendale Male Voice Choir, and under his baton they had significant successes on television and in major festivals. They also recorded a full-length CD, The Valley of Song, which is still available. The commitment required was high, with weekly rehearsals and at least one concert a month. Eventually, in 1981, he found it was getting too difficult to juggle all his other commitments and still fit in enough time with the choir, so he was grateful that a worthy successor was found. The many arrangements he made for the choir are still in their repertoire and in demand with other male voice choirs.
The steady decrease in opportunities for the performance of light-orchestral music was something Ernest had long fought to prevent. Commissions for his music still came in but, like many other composers, his works were considered too low-brow for Radio 3 but too high-brow for Radio 2. He and his colleagues had foretold this would happen when the Light Programme came to an end but it was nonetheless disheartening to witness. The idea for the Library of Light Orchestral Music had been simmering for quite a number of years. The projected recording studio in the barn never materialised, but there was plenty of space. Ernest already had quite a large library of his own, not just his own compositions but pieces he had broadcast. He had also taken on a few collections from other composers or conductors, and of course he was already adding to the collection from the BBC every time he went to London. In 1984, with the support of the LMS committee and PRS, he founded the Library of Light Orchestral Music. The LMS was re-invented as the backing organisation for the library and at first ET tried to keep in touch with members with a newsletter listing the additions to the library. At this point it may be noted that everyone in the family thought he was mad. “Not more music!” was the frequently heard comment.
In terms of broadcasts of ET’s music the late 1980s were probably the worst. It really did seem as if his kind of music wasn’t wanted. The Hallé stopped programming his Fantasia on North Country Tunes at their Last Night of the Hallé proms where it had featured since the late 1970s and other opportunities dried up too. By 1989 he was so starved of live music-making that he decided to found a mixed voice choir in his home town. He conducted the Ribble Vale Choir for nearly nine years and created a vibrant group of singers putting on enjoyable concerts. The choir reawakened his compositional muse and he wrote several more choral items at this time.
However, there were many other things to keep Ernest busy even without composition. He was now grandfather of eight, and he and Jean spent a lot of time with their grandchildren. Naturally he was interested in their musical development, and the two eldest , Melanie and Jenny, were thrilled when he wrote a suite of pieces for them (for cornet and French horn) called Timberbank Twosome, named after the area where they lived in Kent. He played cricket for the local second eleven team and kept himself fit by cycling. His interest in electronics never waned and he enjoyed teaching his grandson Robert about transistors and electrical theory. This shared interest had its own amusement as Robert inherited the colour blind defect. Together they would attempt to work out what the colour coding on components couldn’t possibly be, agree on the colour they thought it was, and then seek out Jean for confirmation. They were always wrong, but at least they both agreed on the colour they thought it was! Ernest enjoyed his garden too and revelled in growing fresh vegetables.
ET was also determined to keep up with developments in the world of computer processing of music. He had waited a long time for such things, greeting every new “musical typewriter” invention with derision. After his years as a music copyist and training others in music copying (including his daughter, Hilary) he knew that good hand copying could beat anything so far produced in both speed and legibility. In the early 1990s a computer programme appeared called Score and ET investigated further. He was impressed, and this led to him being one of the first to go into computer music processing. He taught himself the basics (without reading the manual until he came across difficulties!) and spent hours inputting his music. When the Sibelius programme came along he waited until several problems had been sorted out before finally going with that system. He never liked the finished product as much as Score but it was much easier to use. He taught his granddaughter Katie, to use the system when she was a sixth former and she did all the processing for the production of the Concert Band version of his Suite of English Folk Dances. Nothing in layout escaped his beady eye and the result is better than most computer processed music available today.
At the start of the 1990s it really did seem as if the library in the barn was a bit of a white elephant. Although there had been some requests for music from orchestras that knew about the collection these were all dealt with by ET and Jean on a very informal basis. Jean was very interested in the historical side of things and spent many hours cataloguing and sorting the music and songs. Grandchildren were frequently needed to help find music and walk the plank or climb ladders for things she couldn’t reach. But the feeling was still that the music would really never be needed again. Then came the change. A phone call about a projected series of CDs on the Marco Polo label. The provisional title was British Light Music and ET immediately thought, “It’ll never sell with a title like that!” He was contacted because the producers couldn’t get hold of all the performing material. It seemed that many of the publishers had somehow “lost” it. Thus began the revival of interest in Light Music that gave such happiness to ET’s later years. The existence of the library was triumphantly vindicated (“OK, Dad, you were right!”) and the return of appreciation of his own music gave ET a new enthusiasm. He was very glad he had kept up his conducting skills with his choir since he was invited to conduct two full-length CDs of his orchestral works in Bratislava. So successful were those CDs that he was also asked to conduct three other CDs of music by other composers.
The success of the Marco Polo series caused other companies to sit up. Before long Hyperion had joined the fray (more orders for music from the LMS library) and then EMI reissued the music recorded by the LMS Orchestra from the LP called Britain’s Choice recorded in the early 1970s. Some of the pieces were played on Classic FM, and the orchestra was named. Suddenly requests to join the Light Music Society and know more about this music started to arrive. The enthusiasm of a younger generation of musicians, including John Wilson and Gavin Sutherland, caused a re-think about the future of the LMS. In 1996 a meeting was held at the Royal College of Music in London and the LMS was officially re-launched. From then on ET’s life was inextricably bound up with LMS matters. The future of the library and how it could be preserved were big topics of conversation. Newsletters were a must, and he and Hilary produced these in the 1990s using actual “cut and paste” methods with scissors and glue. The magazines were printed on ET’s old photocopier and sent out to a growing membership.
By 2001 it was obvious the society had be put on a much more official footing. Various venues for a meeting were put forward but in the end it was decided that Lancaster Farm would be the best place, and why not invite people to bring their instruments and have a play through of some of the gems from the library in the barn? The rest, as they say, is history. Ernest was delighted at the turn-out that year. The AGM meeting produced a new committee, a policy to pursue, and gypsy violinist Marianne Olyver called in to lead the little orchestra in the afternoon and evening. Non-players enjoyed listening, a buffet supper was served and everyone enjoyed themselves tremendously. ET conducted and kept the company amused with stories about all the pieces chosen. “We must do this again,” was the verdict and the annual meetings continued for five more years in that format. In 2003 ET was particularly pleased to have two of his granddaughters, Katie and Jenny, playing French horn in the orchestra. He always enjoyed hearing about the orchestras and personalities in the LMS and he delighted in being able to answer tricky questions about Light Music matters. He watched the society grow with great pleasure, frequently being surprised at just how many light orchestras were still functioning out there.
The society and library began to grow in reputation and soon orders for music were flowing in thick and fast. Even, ironically, from the BBC. Two documentaries were made featuring the library, one for BBC 4 called A Little Light Music in 2004 and, a few years later, one for Radio 4’s Documentary on 4 series which raised the profile of the library and the society. Both ET and Jean continued to be involved in sending out the music and the production of the newsletters until 2006. It was hard work to dissuade Ernest from climbing ladders to retrieve music if there were no other helpers around.
2002 saw the arrival of the first great-grandchildren. ET loved babies and he and Jean always wanted to hear about the doings of the next generation. Sadly, Jean died in 2006 and Ernest’s health was not good. He underwent heart surgery in early 2007 but never really regained any fitness. He continued working on his music until in his late 80s, latterly re-arranging several of his popular orchestral works for concert band. He also rescored his Cornet Concerto for both concert band and orchestra. The work received its orchestral première in Norway in November 2009, played by Martin Winter and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra. It was one of his dreams that the orchestral version would one day be professionally recorded with a top class soloist, and the family hope that dream can be realised.
Thanks to determined efforts from particular supporters Ernest Tomlinson received an MBE from Her Majesty Queen on October 19th 2012, for services to music. He was delighted to be honoured by Classic FM on his 90th birthday last year with a whole evening concert devoted to his music, introduced by Catherine Bott. He continued to follow the progress of the LMS and was proud to be President. He liked to hear about individual members and the various orchestras and always wanted to know what pieces were being sent out. In spite of his ill health he very much enjoyed last year’s concert in Longridge, and even managed to get up to take a bow. In his last weeks he was very interested to know about, and discuss, the various choices Gavin had made for the forthcoming concert in August.
In spite of his ill health he was able to enjoy the LMS concert in Longridge in 2014, and even managed to get up to take a bow. In the last weeks of his life he was very interested to know about, and discuss, the various choices Gavin Sutherland had made for the 2015 concert scheduled for August 2015. This went ahead as a tribute concert to the life and works of a great composer. Several of his own pieces were naturally included, but it contained many examples of genre of music he thought it so important to preserve. Many of the composers were his friends and colleagues over many years and it was fitting to remember them also.
Dear father, grandfather, great-grandfather, friend and colleague. Your music and legacy will live on.
On behalf of the Tomlinson family I must express thanks for all the wonderful cards, letters, emails, texts, phone calls and general support after the death of our father, Ernest Tomlinson. It has been so lovely to receive the many tributes from so many different sources, and they are still coming in. ET himself always used to say that he found such offerings most “heartwarming” and we can only say the same. Thank you, too, to those who travelled so far to come to the funeral and share with us at Lancaster Farm afterwards. So many people have stories to tell of their own recollections of him, maybe of times when he helped them, or just wanted to say how much they love his music and felt privileged to know him. We really appreciate knowing how highly esteemed he was.
ET began to be seriously ill at the beginning of June 2015. After his death, the Tomlinson family determined that ET’s legacy of the Library of Light Orchestral Music would not be lost. The barn at Lancaster Farm continued to house the music until 2019, when alternative accommodation was found in North Yorkshire. There are reminders everywhere of the massive influence he had been to the Library. Many pieces have notes in his handwriting explaining particular problems with a set, listing necessary corrections to any future sets that might arrive, or simply telling an anecdote about the music. He had so much knowledge about the genre and he tried to pass that information on to future generations.
Please consider joining the Light Music Society and supporting this massive rescue operation which is now such a valued resource for orchestras world-wide.
With very best wishes,