Eric Ball (composer)

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Eric Walter John Ball OBE (31 October 1903 – 1 October 1989) was an English composer, arranger and conductor of brass band music, described as "one of the most prolific writers and influential figures in the brass band and choral world".[1]

Biography[edit]

He was born in Kingswood, Gloucestershire, the eldest of 16 children whose parents were active in the Salvation Army. When he was a child, the family moved to Surrey, Kent, and London. He learned piano and organ, and in 1919 started work in the Salvation Army musical instrument department in central London, soon moving to the Musical Editorial Department as a composer.[2][3] He became an officer in the Salvation Army, and in 1928 re-established the Salvationist Publishing and Supplies (S. P. & S.) Band.[1] The 18-member band, led by Ball, was used extensively at Salvation Army meetings, and recorded. In 1935, Ball also became the conductor of the Salvation Army's National Orchestra, and also conducted and accompanied the Salvation Singers, and trained band members. In 1942, he became bandmaster of the International Staff Band (I.S.B.), the premier Salvation Army band, with the rank of major.[3]

Ball resigned unexpectedly from the Salvation Army in 1944, after he started attending spiritualist meetings following the death of his sister.[3] He soon became involved in judging brass band competitions, and in 1945 became conductor of the Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band, winning the national championships with them the following year.[2] He also became editor of The British Bandsman magazine. In 1948, as conductor of the CWS (Manchester) Band, he won the British Open brass band championship, and he also performed with other bands including the Ransome & Marles band and the City of Coventry Band.[1]

By the mid-1950s, he withdrew from conducting brass bands competitively, to concentrate on teaching and composing music. He became active in teaching brass band courses in Cornwall,[2] and wrote many test pieces for bands, including "Resurgam" (1950), "Tournament for Brass" (1954), "Main Street" (1961), "Journey Into Freedom" (1967), and "The Wayfarer" (1976). He also wrote cantatas for chorus and band.[1]

Ball was awarded the OBE in 1969.[4] He died in Bournemouth in 1989, aged 85.[1]

Selected compositions[edit]

  • The Triumph of Peace
  • The Kingdom Triumphant
  • The Eternal Presence
  • Journey Into Freedom
  • The King of Kings
  • The Old Wells
  • Resurgam
  • Song of Welcome
  • Songs in Exile
  • Star Lake
  • Torch of Freedom[5]
  • Tournament for Brass
  • Morning Rhapsody
  • Sunset Rhapsody
  • Festival Music
  • Indian Summer
  • Song of Courage
  • Glory to His Name
  • The Prospect Before Us
  • Main Street

National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain[edit]

A number of Ball's pieces have been selected as test pieces for the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain, both at the area contests and the national finals.

Year Piece Section Contest
1946 Thanksgiving 3rd Area
1947 Akhnaton Ch Area
1947 Divertimento 4th Area
1947 Divertimento 4th Final
1948 Four Preludes 2nd Area
1948 Three Songs without Words 4th Area
1948 Four Preludes 2nd Final
1948 Three Songs without Words 4th Final
1949 Morning Rhapsody Ch Area
1949 Petite Suite de Ballet 3rd Area
1949 Petite Suite de Ballet 3rd Final
1950 Indian Summer 3rd Area
1950 Indian Summer 3rd Final
1951 The English Maiden 2nd Area
1951 The English Maiden 2nd Final
1952 Resurgam Ch Area
1953 A Holiday Suite 3rd Area
1953 A Holiday Suite 3rd Final
1954 Call of the Sea 2nd Area
1954 Call of the Sea 2nd Final
1956 Festival Music Ch Final
1956 Three Songs without Words 4th Final
1957 Four Preludes 2nd Final
1958 Devon Fantasy 3rd Area
1960 The Princess and the Poet 4th Area
1960 Call of the Sea 3rd Final
1962 Contest Day 4th Area
1962 Four Preludes 3rd Final
1963 Everybody's Child 4th Final
1964 Oasis 2nd Final
1964 The English Maiden 3rd Final
1966 The English Maiden 3rd Area
1966 Everybody's Child 4th Area
1967 Festival Music Ch Area
1967 Journey into Freedom Ch Final
1968 Fowey River Suite 3rd Area
1968 Third Rhapsody on Negro Spirituals 2nd Final
1968 Homeward 4th Final
1969 Petite Suite de Ballet 4th Area
1969 High Peak Ch Final
1969 American Sketches 4th Final
1970 A Psalm for All Nations 4th Final
1971 The Ancient Temple 4th Area
1971 Celebration 2nd Final
1972 A Kensington Concerto Ch Final
1973 St. Michael's Mount 4th Area
1974 Devon Fantasy 3rd Area
1974 Youth Salutes a Master 4th Final
1975 Journey into Freedom Ch Area
1976 Tournament for Brass 2nd Area
1976 Sinfonietta for Brass Band – The Wayfarer Ch Final
1976 Third Rhapsody on Negro Spirituals 3rd Final
1977 Morning Rhapsody 2nd Area
1978 Call of the Sea 3rd Area
1980 Main Street 3rd Area
1981 Contest Day 4th Final
1984 Divertimento 4th Area
1985 Celebration 2nd Final
1987 Scottish Festival Overture 3rd Area
1988 Sunrise 2nd Final
1991 Journey into Freedom Ch Area
1992 Celebration 1st Area
1992 Holiday Overture for Brass 2nd Final
1993 Impromptu 4th Area
1993 Journey into Freedom 1st Final
1994 St. Michael's Mount 4th Final
1999 Main Street 3rd Area
1999 Indian Summer 4th Area
2001 The Undaunted 1st Area
2003 A Kensington Concerto 1st Final
2003 Sunset Rhapsody 2nd Final
2003 Four Preludes 3rd Final
2003 Call of the Sea 4th Final
2007 Sinfonietta for Brass Band – The Wayfarer 1st Area
2008 Festival Music Ch Area
2011 Resurgam 2nd Area
2013 Devon Fantasy 4th Area
2017 Tournament for Brass 1st Final
2017 Petite Suite de Ballet 4th Final

Several of his arrangements have also been used.

Year Piece Original Composer Section Contest
1946 Eine Kleine Nachtmusik Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 2nd Area
1957 Themes from Symphony No. 9 Ludwig van Beethoven Ch Area
1960 Themes from Symphony No. 5 Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Ch Area
1964 A Rural Suite Charles Woodhouse 4th Area
1965 Themes from the First Symphony Ludwig van Beethoven Ch Area
1967 Eine Kleine Nachtmusik Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 3rd Area
1970 Themes from Symphony No. 9 Ludwig van Beethoven 2nd Final
1971 Suite Gothique Léon Boëllmann 2nd Area
1978 Four Dances from Checkmate Arthur Bliss Ch Final
1981 Froissart Overture Edward Elgar 2nd Final
1983 A French Suite Alexandre Pierre François Boëly 3rd Final
1995 Suite Gothique Léon Boëllmann 3rd Final
2003 Theme and Eight Variations from Enigma Edward Elgar Ch Final

In addition, several pieces were used as the youth section area contest test piece: The Young in Heart in 1965, Petite Suite de Ballet in 1975, and Rhapsody on Negro Spirituals in 1983.

Further reading[edit]

  • Cooke, Peter M. Eric Ball, the man and his music - biography[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Gammond, Peter (1991). The Oxford Companion to Popular Music. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 34. ISBN 0-19-311323-6. 
  2. ^ a b c Hunt, Phillip (2004). "Eric Ball in Cornwall". Retrieved 2010-05-10. 
  3. ^ a b c Dennis Taylor, Eric Ball: His Life and Music, 1903-1989, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012, pp.1-18
  4. ^ Dennis Taylor, Eric Ball: His Life and Music, 1903-1989, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 12013, p.33
  5. ^ "Sound of brass". BBC. 2003. Retrieved 2010-05-10. 
  6. ^ Eric Ball: the man and his music, Wiltshire Virtual Library

External links[edit]