As we go to press, we hear of the discovery of G.B. Moody, a chorister at the City of London School whose solo-singing while evacuated to Marlborough during the war was legendary. Thanks to David Lewer, Brian Moody has been traced to Wembley Downes, Australia. When I telephoned him he told me he still had seven recordings which he made for Columbia and Decca but never issued. We hope to feature what has been described as 'The Moody Mystery' in the next volume of The Better Land.
Additional notes from "The Better Land - Volume IV"
For several years, rumour had it that a boy named Moody had sung Hear my prayer in the ruins of the Temple Church during the war and that HMV had made a record of it. However, Donald Simpson, Head Boy at Temple at the time had never heard of Moody, and David Lewer confirmed that no-one of that name had ever been in the choir. However it was soon discovered that Brian Moody had qualified as an architect in 1959 and was now living in Western Australia where I was able to contact him.
He was born in 1930 and for secondary education was sent to the City of London School, then more safely located in Marlborough, where they shared the premises of Marlborough College during the early years of the war. The school was also the educational base of the Choristers of the Temple Church and the Chapel Royal, so there was a tradition of good singing in the school.
Brian Moody writes: ‘Services were held in the College chapel, and with a captive field of recruits, the music master, Leslie Taylor was able to sort out the best talent. Thus I became a somewhat reluctant singer. Reluctant or otherwise, I did come to realise the satisfaction of good performances before an audience; and there is little to better my memories of Marlboro’ than taking the treble solo, with full choir and organ backing, in Mendelssohn’s Hear my prayer, unfortunately never recorded. The stage in the Memorial Hall was the venue for the recollected item of my soprano solo followed by a baritone song from the same vocal chords.
‘Leslie Taylor wanted to get some recordings made before my voice broke, so late in 1943 when I was 13 we came to London to a private recording studio, Star Sound Studios in Cavendish Square and recorded a number of items onto acetate-coated glass discs (including the baritone solo!). The following year, when I was fourteen, Decca and Columbia agreed to make test recordings.’
Brian goes on to explain that nothing further came of this, perhaps due to war-time restrictions and the fact that Master Tommy Criddle had just been signed for HMV. ‘ Shortly after, the school returned to Blackfriars. I was given a copy of my records which I have kept and brought to Australia in 1966.
Copyright © 2000 by Stephen Robert Beet
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