Ernest Ford

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For the English cricketer, see Ernest Ford (cricketer).
Ernest Ford, an 1895 portrait

Ernest A. Claire Ford (17 February 1858 – 2 June 1919) was an English composer of operas and ballet music and a conductor.

Life and career[edit]

Ford was born in Warminster, Wiltshire, England, the son of the vestry clerk and organist there. From 1868-73, he sang in the chorus at Salisbury Cathedral. He studied under Arthur Sullivan at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where, in 1875, he received the first Goss Scholarship. Beginning in 1916, Ford taught composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Ford studied in Paris under Édouard Lalo and also toured America. There, his motet, a setting of the Psalm Domine Deus, was performed at a celebration of the 250th anniversary of the founding of Harvard University. During the 1880s, Ford was the official accompanist at the Saturday Popular Concerts at St James's Hall, London. He also wrote a number of operas and operettas in the 1880s and early 1890s, including Daniel O' Rourke (1884); Nydia (a duologue by Justin H. M. Carthy, 1889); Joan (Robert Martin, 1890); and Weatherwise (1893).

Ford became the assistant musical director for the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company at the Savoy Theatre in 1888, serving in this position for five years. In 1891, Ford and François Cellier conducted Sullivan's grand opera, Ivanhoe, which opened Richard D'Oyly Carte's Royal English Opera House. Ford also arranged the piano score for Ivanhoe. While serving as music director at the Savoy, Ford wrote the music for a one-act curtain raiser, Mr. Jericho, that premiered there in March 1893. The piece has a libretto by Harry Greenbank. In May of the same year, Ford supplied the music for the full-length J. M. Barrie and Arthur Conan Doyle comic opera, Jane Annie, a flop that nevertheless toured until September of that year.[1]

Later, Ford became musical director of the Trafalgar Theatre in London. There, he revised and rewrote the music for the comic opera The Wedding Eve. He also composed much of the music for ballets produced at the Empire Theatre between 1894 and 1897, including La Frolique, Brighton Pier, Faust and La Danse. He became conductor of the Royal Amateur Orchestral Society in 1897. Ford also composed a volume of settings of poems by Percy Bysshe Shelley, many other songs and chamber music, an Elegy for violin and orchestra and a cantata, The Eve of the Festa.

As a writer, he published A Short History of Music in England (1912). In 1903 he contributed a chapter to H. Saxe Wyndham's biography of Sullivan, entitled "Sullivan as Composer."

Ford died in London at the age of 61.

See also[edit]