Eric Ball (composer)
Eric Walter John Ball OBE (31 October 1903 – 1 October 1989) was a British 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".
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. He became an officer in the Salvation Army, and in 1928 re-established the Salvationist Publishing and Supplies (S. P. & S.) Band. 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.
Ball resigned unexpectedly from the Salvation Army in 1944, after he started attending spiritualist meetings following the death of his sister. 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. 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.
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, 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.
- The Triumph of Peace
- The Kingdom Triumphant
- The Eternal Presence
- Journey Into Freedom
- The King of Kings
- The Old Wells
- Song of Welcome
- Songs in Exile
- Star Lake
- Torch of Freedom
- 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
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.
|1948||Three Songs without Words||4th||Area|
|1948||Three Songs without Words||4th||Final|
|1949||Petite Suite de Ballet||3rd||Area|
|1949||Petite Suite de Ballet||3rd||Final|
|1951||The English Maiden||2nd||Area|
|1951||The English Maiden||2nd||Final|
|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||Three Songs without Words||4th||Final|
|1960||The Princess and the Poet||4th||Area|
|1960||Call of the Sea||3rd||Final|
|1964||The English Maiden||3rd||Final|
|1966||The English Maiden||3rd||Area|
|1967||Journey into Freedom||Ch||Final|
|1968||Fowey River Suite||3rd||Area|
|1968||Third Rhapsody on Negro Spirituals||2nd||Final|
|1969||Petite Suite de Ballet||4th||Area|
|1970||A Psalm for All Nations||4th||Final|
|1971||The Ancient Temple||4th||Area|
|1972||A Kensington Concerto||Ch||Final|
|1973||St. Michael's Mount||4th||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|
|1978||Call of the Sea||3rd||Area|
|1987||Scottish Festival Overture||3rd||Area|
|1991||Journey into Freedom||Ch||Area|
|1992||Holiday Overture for Brass||2nd||Final|
|1993||Journey into Freedom||1st||Final|
|1994||St. Michael's Mount||4th||Final|
|2003||A Kensington Concerto||1st||Final|
|2003||Call of the Sea||4th||Final|
|2007||Sinfonietta for Brass Band – The Wayfarer||1st||Area|
|2017||Tournament for Brass||1st||Final|
|2017||Petite Suite de Ballet||4th||Final|
Several of his arrangements have also been used.
|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.
- Cooke, Peter M. Eric Ball, the man and his music - biography
- Gammond, Peter (1991). The Oxford Companion to Popular Music. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 34. ISBN 0-19-311323-6.
- Hunt, Phillip (2004). "Eric Ball in Cornwall". Retrieved 2010-05-10.
- Dennis Taylor, Eric Ball: His Life and Music, 1903-1989, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012, pp.1-18
- Dennis Taylor, Eric Ball: His Life and Music, 1903-1989, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 12013, p.33
- "Sound of brass". BBC. 2003. Retrieved 2010-05-10.
- Eric Ball: the man and his music, Wiltshire Virtual Library
- "The music of Eric Ball (1903-1989) a complete catalogue, with a commentary on his life and work" Masters Thesis by Dennis John Taylor (1994), Durham University.
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