Saturday, 2 February 2019

Facing the music with Cecil Coles

Behind the lines-original bloodstained manuscript.
Cecil Coles (1888-1918) was a Scottish composer killed near the end of the First World War. 
He studied at the Royal College of Music and moved to London. He lived in Lewisham where he married Phoebe Relton in 1912. At this time, he worked at Morley College where he met composer Gustav Holst.

In 1915 he signed for overseas service in the 9th London Regiment, Queen Victoria Rifles. Stationed in France, he served as a bandmaster and stretcher bearer which involved picking up wounded soldiers, often under gunfire.

During the war, his wartime address was 11 Vancouver Road, Catford.

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Photograph of Cecil Coles in uniform
Throughout, he composed music. His wartime work was sent to Holst, including a bloodstained manuscript of “Cortege”. This was the intended third movement of a four movement suite “Behind the Lines.“

His music remained almost unknown until 2002 when his daughter rediscovered his music. Recordings and performances followed. His work is included in “Music from behind the Lines.” Cortege became the theme tune to the Channel 4 documentary series the First World War.


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