HISTORICAL LIST OF FAMOUS BOY TREBLES
  • Dear CMAA members, I have looked, but seemingly in vain, can you help me to compile a list of FAMOUS (INFAMOUS) boy treble singers, that sang in a boys' choir, throughout history. I will start off with a sour note:

    Adolf Hitler
    Henry Purcell
    Andrew Lloyd Weber (his father William Lloyd Weber was the last choirmaster of the men and boys choir at ALL SAINT Margaret Street, London before that men and boys choir and its choir school was dissolved).
    (one or more of the Beatles - John Lennon did, George Harrison perhaps?)
    J. S. Bach
    Palestrina
    Byrd
    Tallis
    Cai Thomas
    Aksel Rykkvin
    Sebastian Carrington
    Aled Jones
    Peter Sherman
    Oliver Putland
    Luca Morgante
    Steffan Ryhs Hughes
    Daniel Furlong
    Ernest Lough
    Gerben Visser
    Eduard Walda
    Mark Pedrotti
    Bobby Breen
    Otta Jones
    Yves Abel
    George Bartel
    Phil Schaller
    Declan Galbraith
    Robin Blaze
    Darren Geraghty
    Kai Podack
    Bejun Mehta
    Eamon Mulhall
    Max Emmanuel Cencic
    Whitney Stuart
    Frederick J. Firth
    Daniel Corti
    John Graham-Maw
    Robert Stephen
    Freddy de Rivaz
    Oliver Hayes
    Jeroen de Vaal
    Paul Dutton
    Samuel Afi
    Anthony Way
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,209
    .
  • Dora Robertson names quite a few in her Sarum Close - an account of the thousand year history of the choir school at Salisbury. This fascinating book is rich with anecdotal accounts of life in the cathedral close - mostly that of the choir school. One surprising matter is that the Latin high mass continued unchanged throughout Henry the Bad's reign, up to the accession of the unfortunate Edward VI.
  • I real that some may be more famous than others.
  • Orlando di Lasso, who was kidnapped for his voice.
    The Haydn brothers; Joseph was so good that it was proposed that the longevity of his treble voice be extended...his parents said absolutely not.

    But it would be more interesting to compile a list of the unlikelies, particularly those who didn't act like proverbial choirboys when they grew up.
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • LOL - Jeffrey, all are fair game - the good, the bad and the OH LORD, WHAT HAVE WE DONE!
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • Farinelli ? before the deed of course.
  • Dufay, La Rue, Josquin, Obrecht, Agricola ? Alessandro Moresch before castration.
  • William Walond
    Jeremaih Clarke
    William Croft
    Orlando Gibbons,
    Christopher Tye
    Anthony de Countie
    John Merbecke
    John Sheppard
    Richard Farrant
    William Mundy
    Robert Parsons
    Robert White
    Anthony Holborne
    John Mundy
    Thomas Morley
    Peter Philips
    John Bull
    John Dowland
    Thomas Campion
    Tobias Hume
    John Coprario
    Thomas Tomkins
    John Wilbye
    John Bennet
    Thomas Weelkes
    Richard Dering
    Thomas Ford
    John Jenkins
    Henry Lawes
    John Hilton
    William Lawes
    Christopher Gibbons
    Matthew Locke
    John Blow
    William Turner
    John Eccles
    Henry Eccles
    John Weldon
    George Frideric Handel
    Thomas Roseingrave
    Maurice Greene
    Thomas Chilcot
    Charles Avison
    Thomas Arne
    William Boyce
    John Stanley
    Charles Burney
    Thomas Sanders Dupuis
    Philip Hayes
    William Herschel
    Samuel Arnold
    Samuel Webbe
    John Stafford Smith
    Thomas Attwood
    Samuel Wesley
    Samuel S. Wesley
    John Rutter
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,655
    Dudley Moore, comedian/actor, later became organ scholar at Magdalene College, Oxford, under Bernard Rose.
  • Are they famous if I've never heard of them? (Sensible answer: yes.)
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,387
    This list should really include more information, such as birth and death years and a link to the appropriate Wikipedia article. Otherwise it's just a list of mostly obscure names.
  • Most, by far, of these men are hardly obscure.
    Some, though, may be found only in the scholarly annals of church music lore.

    Pity that but for less than half a dozen choirs in the US, a few well-known European choirs, and the English cathedral choirs, the boy treble is a dying breed. Scant will be any list of boy singers added to such a list as this in the near future.

    Imagine, England, the land of choral singing societies, and the land in which every CofE cathedral and many collegiate chapels support a full time boarding choir school. How much more blessed could one be? How much more civilised?
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,387
    Jackson, look at it from the perspective of someone who does not have your depth and breadth of knowledge.

    To pick a name at random, I feel pretty confident in saying that most of us have probably never heard of Sebastian Carrington, who, although he's rather accomplished, appears to be about 14 years old. How would we know about him? He's been the subject of three local newspaper articles in Hinckley and Coventry and a piece in the Radio Times (when he appeared on "The Voice").

    I hope we don't have to start watching "The Voice" every week as part of our ongoing musical formation.
  • But wouldn't it be cool if we could get chant into "The Voice?" :)
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,252
    When I was a student in the UK, I did a lot of accompanying at the college (RCM) the voice students there were the most skilled that I have ever encountered. Many of the them (in contrast to USA singers) could sight read ANYTHING. With one, I asked where all these singers got their training, and he said "we all sing in cathedral boychoirs".
  • In North America, with few exceptions, even the professional singers are the worst musicians by far.
  • Amen to that, Schonbergian!
    Indeed, the worst musicians is their reputation here.
    They even have doctorates and can't sight read, never outgrow their need for serious coaching, and... one could go on - and on.
    I've known professionals who were ringers in churches who couldn't sight read the likes of 'If Ye Love Me', hadn't bothered to learn it at home (which, as paid singers, they are expected to do) and had to be taught it during rehearsal!
    Thanked by 1sdtalley3
  • I have to wonder what they spend their time doing. My lessons, and those I teach, spend a good portion of time developing flexible technique, perfect intonation, incisive rhythm, and good articulation—and there was still plenty of time to discuss matters of interpretation, which becomes much more natural with a solid technique.

    Praytell, what do these singers spend their gratuitous practice time (I have heard of 6+ hours a day!) and lesson time improving, if not the basic musical qualities expected of every other musician?
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,209
    When I moved into this parish in 1999, we had a cantor who was a treble at King's, Cambridge in the late 40s, then after a brief interlude won a choral scholarship and sang as tenor at King's while studying economics. After compulsory service in the army he bacame a financial consultant, Professor of Fiduciary Management, elected to our national Parliament. I doubt he had much time for singing practice, and all his singing was unpaid, but until Parkinsons struck him down he could pick up the Gradual, or an anthem by Tallis, and sing ⁁ at sight with no problem. ⁁ beautifully
    Thanked by 2tomjaw CHGiffen
  • ViolaViola
    Posts: 366
    Pedantic note re Dudley Moore:
    Magdalene College = Cambridge
    Magdalen College = Oxford (attended by D Moore)
    both pronounced Maudlin
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • Viola,

    You weren't being pedantic. Disambiguation isn't pedantry.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw Viola
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,655
    Thanks for catching that.

    Unfortunately, autocorrect only recognizes one of those spellings: I assume, therefore, that the software developer went to Cambridge.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw Viola
  • Salieri,

    Can we turn off "autocorrect" whenever and wherever it exists?
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • Maureen
    Posts: 662
    Schönbergian:

    When I was in school here in the US, singers were encouraged to ignore the weird markings on the music, pay attention only to the words and to the piano, and basically not think about reading music until we were in junior high or high school. Occasionally we would get a brief talk about counting note lengths, but then the teacher would usually change his/her mind about what lengths were wanted. (To be fair, there are states and cities that require kids to learn solfa. But not mine.)

    In junior high school, the choir teacher tried to get rid of everybody who didn't fit her idea of a show choir, which largely meant cheerleader type people who could dance. She never taught us anything about how to read music.

    If you wanted to learn to read music, you were supposed to join band or take guitar class, and play a musical instrument. What I learned was that music told you where to put your fingers, and that was sight-reading.

    There was never any instruction at any level of school about how to sight-sing. Possibly this was something you were supposed to learn in church, although the only person I knew who could sight-sing was in Latter Day Saints, wanted to join the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and was getting private voice lessons while in elementary school. My general impression was that sight-singing was something hard, like calculus, and that you had to be a musical genius with perfect pitch to be able to do it.

    Until I attended CMAA, I had no idea that "Do Re Mi" was about sight-singing; I thought it was about singing scales. I think that's what most people in the US think it's about -- learning to reach the notes on the scale on key, not about reading music.

    It is possible that our Catholic choir teachers in elementary school did not realize that none of us kids knew what the notes meant, because we were used to having to learn all those 1970's songs by ear, with just the words available.

    For what it's worth, a lot of people still think (erroneously) that I can sight-sing, just because I have a fair amount of knowledge about how genre and historical tunes go, and I can recognize note patterns on the paper (as well as being quick to learn by ear). But I know I'm musically illiterate.

    (Oh, and I think they taught sight-singing in college in Music Theory class. But that was a yearlong class at 8 AM, and it was meant for instrumentalists to take. I'm not sure how many singers from the Theater department took it. And I wasn't majoring in music or theater, so I don't really know.)
  • davido
    Posts: 383
    My grandfather is now 91, and as a farm boy near Harrisburg, PA attended a one room school where he was taught to read music. At the tiny country church he attended most of his life (Reformed/Lutheran, now United Church of Christ), he and his extended family would sing the hymns in 4 part harmony - they had all attended the one room grade school, or a similar one in a neighboring village.

    A former chorister of mine (recently deceased) growing up as a farm boy in prewwii Holland had to receive 2 years of instruction in “the Gregorian music” at the home of the parish music director before he was allowed to join the men and boys choir at his local parish. Eight years ago he could still read chant better than modern notation.

    I had two voice degrees from US colleges before I discovered chant and only after teaching it to myself for a year did I begin to feel like I could sight read.
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • Ken of Sarum
    Posts: 401
    My first and principle reason for starting this, was to gather and establish a first draft of all the boy trebles I and others could find in books, articles, videos, recordings and internet, who were, at the very least, in some way mentioned. As to fame, I mentioned FAMOUS / INFAMOUS only within the context that they had some degree of publicity. At some later date, it is my hope that myself or some might take on the task of editing this list with dates and any other significant information. Bottom line, I meant it as a point of beginning. For example, years ago, while in a TOWER RECORDS classical music section, I discovered Bejun Mehta. I had never heard of him until then. With time, he became somewhat notable. My point is, just because you have never heard of someone, doesn't mean they are unworthy of some kind of fame or notice in music history.

    As both a former cathedral chorister in my younger years and as a violinist and violist and in many situations, a choirmaster, organist, teacher and composer, performer, I have had the opportunity to study with, perform with, teach and observe many many singers and instrumentalists here in North America and in Europe; from amateur to professional groups. I can truthfully say, that the vast majority of singers in N. America are woefully lacking in sight-singing, solfege, performance practices and technique; even more so in any form of plainsong. Instrumentalists spend countless more hours in these areas especially as they progress towards any advanced degree. As a violist / violinist, I have spent countless hours in etude studies alone. Even as I write this, I spend a minimum of two hours daily on etudes and scales before I ever go on to any other work and that's just on viola not to mention organ / keyboard and voice. At 64 years of age, I am still a formidable musician as I use to be when a principle violist / violinist or at any one of my other church positions I once held.

    So, my goal was to speak up for all the really good boy trebles of note, before them and the memory of their efforts are resigned to the ages of time. Eventually, my hope is that this list will include all the extra amazing things, gifts and contribution they have made to humanity; many of which benefited mankind. And to point out that some were composer, doctors, church musicians, lawyers, politicians, statemen, and so forth.

    This is only a beginning to fill, what I perceive on the internet, as a serious and significant void in music history.



  • johnbdick
    Posts: 1
    Alex Salmond, former First Minister of Scotland
  • Robin Schlotz