The Palm Court Theatre orchestra is recognized as the best orchestra of its kind in the world. It was formed in 1978 by its director, Mr Anthony Godwin, who inherited a rare library from his father, whose family had all been active musicians during the 20’s and 30’s. The orchestra has made a series of successful recordings with Chandos, some of which, such as Puttin’ on the Ritz, have become best sellers.
Ketèlbey was born in Birmingham in 1875. By the age of eleven he had composed a piano sonata and at the age of thriteen won the Queen Victoria Scholarship for composition at Trinity College, London. After touring with a light opera company, he was appointed musical director at the Vaudeville Theatre at the age of twenty-two. He wrote a quintet for piano and wind (which won the Sir Michael Costa Prize) as well as songs, anthems and pieces for various instruments, but it was in light music that his talent fully emerged. In a Monastery Garden achieved enormous popularity in 1915, as did In the Moonlight (1919), In a Persian Market (1920), In a Chinese Temple Garden (1925), Bells across the Meadows (1927), and The Clock and Dreden Figures (1930), as well as many others. Today these pieces sound charmingly sentimental with their broad melodic sweep and garish orchestrations; they are great fun. Other compositions, such as Wedgewood Blue (1930), display a lighter touch, and its popularity is well deserved. The success of these compositions enabled him to spend his later years in retirement on the Isle of Wight.