Archibald Joyce

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Archibald Joyce (25 May 1873 – 22 March 1963) was an English light music composer known for his early waltzes.

He first came to prominence with the publication of his Waltz Songe d'Automne (1908) which fast became a hit. The piece is in a minor key, with the melody in a relatively low tenor register.

The following year he repeated this success with his Waltz Visions of Salome (1909)[1] also in the same low-pitched minor-key style. He was billed by his publishers, Ascherberg Hopwood and Crew, as the "English Waltz King".[2]

His music was immensely popular with dance orchestras of the period together with amateur pianists. The piano solo sheet music for his waltzes sold in very large quantities in the UK. He continued primarily with his distinctive waltzes until the start of the WW1 period. His other principal hits during this period were Dreaming waltz (1911), Charming and The Passing of Salome waltzes (1912), 1000 Kisses and Always Gay waltzes (1913) and Remembrance waltz (1914).

He co-wrote the musical Toto with Merlin Morgan (musical director of Daly's Theatre in London). After a try-out in Plymouth it opened at London's Duke of York's Theatre on 19 April 1916. Despite good initial reviews it did not take off and was withdrawn after only 77 performances.

He was credited as conducting "the first modern dance band in Britain";[3] with it he recorded for HMV in 1912.[4] He continued conducting his own orchestra for a number of years until the early 1920s. During the early 1920s, his orchestras recorded material for the Aeolian Company's Vocalion Records label in London. He had recorded for the Gramophone Company HMV-label in London as early as 1912 previously.

His music was familiar worldwide during its period. His waltz "Dreaming" was provided with lyrics by Earl Carroll and introduced in the US by Miss Kitty Gordon in Oliver Morosco's comedy with music, Pretty Mrs Smith (1913).[5] "Songe d'Automne" ("Autumn Dream") and "1000 Kisses" were incorporated into Charlie Chaplin's latter-day sound track added to his The Gold Rush.[6] In the US a conventional method of gaining public exposure for a song was to arrange to have it included a revue: in this way Joyce's "Vision of Salome" (1909) was included in Florenz Ziegfeld Jr.'s Follies of 1910.[1]

Harold Bride's recollection that the orchestra was playing "Autumn" as the RMS Titanic foundered in 1912 has led to speculation by Walter Lord that he was in fact referring to Songe d'Automne, which was part of the repertory of the White Star Line orchestras and with which he would undoubtedly been familiar.[7]

After the early 1920s, there was a small trickle of material for many years. His last composition of any note is his Bohemia - concert waltz for piano (1942) which finishes off his career with a hefty hat-tip to both the waltz and to the piano which effectively made him.

The music of Joyce has been transcribed for the balalaika and is still recorded in Russia.[8]


  1. ^ a b "Vision of Salome", accessed 1 November 2018
  2. ^ Album of Waltzes by Archibald Joyce (The English Waltz King), accessed 1 November 2018
  3. ^ D.B. Scott, "Other mainstreams: light music and easy listening, 1920-70" in The Cambridge history of twentieth-century music, 2004
  4. ^ D.B. Scott, "Other mainstreams: light music and easy listening" in The Musical Style and Social Meaning: Selected Essays, 2010
  5. ^ "The Sensation Waltz Song of Two Continents: Dreaming" (sheet music), accessed 1 November 2018
  6. ^ (Naxos) Philip Lane, "Archibald Joyce" 2006, accessed 27 October 2018
  7. ^ Encyclopedia Titanica: "Songe d'Automne", accessed 27 October 2018
  8. ^ DjukiNew1957, Moscow Balalaika Quartet - Autumn dream, retrieved 2019-02-04