Tuesday, 10 March 2009

An affair with a Victorian composer

If the title sounds more like something from Heat magazine, apologies.

When not hard at work writing the next book, I run our village choir. I soon discovered that one of their favourite composers was someone I’d never heard of in a couple of decades of singing – a man called Caleb Simper (what a name).

To be honest, it’s really not my kind of music – seriously Victorian. I particularly like Vaughan Williams’ comment about Simper and his contemporary Maunder: Composers with ridiculous names: their names are about the one thing these composers couldn’t help; other aspects of their activities are less innocent.

However, we were going to perform a Simper piece and I wanted some programme notes, so looked him up on the web, only to find there was practically nothing about him there. He wasn’t in Groves, the ultimate musical dictionary, either.

Now you might think ‘not surprising with some obscure guy’, but in his day, Simper was the equivalent of Andrew Lloyd Webber. He had over 5 million copies of his music sold – that’s a lot of music.

So I looked into him and have ended up custodian of the Caleb Simper website.

This has resulted in Simper sightings all over the world. In the UK, with most lesser Victorians he was successfully expunged from many music cupboards in the 1960s, but he has clung on well in Australia, the USA, South Africa and India.

So I now find myself in a really strange position. I feel I ought to keep this web page up, as the guardian of Simper’s memory. But I can’t stand his music! Hey ho. Life keeps us on our toes.

2 comments:

  1. I wonder if he was related to Nick Simper, a former bass player in Deep Purple?

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  2. I don't know, Henry. I posted a question about this on the offical Nick Simper website, but my post disappeared without reply. I think they thought I made Caleb up.

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