Carey Blyton, nephew of the children’s writer, Enid Blyton, was born at Beckenham, Kent in 1932. He was educated at the Grammar School there and showed, during the earlier part of this time, not merely an apathy towards music but a marked hostility to it until, as a convalescent from polio during 1947/8, he was taught the piano to while away the time.
In 1953 he entered Trinity College of Music, London, and during four years there he obtained all three college diplomas (Associate, Licentiate and Fellow) and in 1954 won the Sir Granville Bantock Prize for Composition. He studied harmony, counterpoint, orchestration and musical history with Dr William Lovelock, and in 1957 he obtained a B.Mus. (London) degree and was awarded by the Sir Winston Churchill Endowment Fund a 10-month scholarship in composition tenable at Det Kongelige Danske Musikkonservatorium, Copenhagen.
Returning to England in 1958, he became music editor to Mills Music Ltd, which position he held for five years. He freelanced from 1963 as composer, arranger, music editor and lecturer. He was Professor of Harmony, Counterpoint & Orchestration at Trinity College of Music, London, from 1963 to 1973, and Visiting Professor of Composition for Film, Television & Radio at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, from 1972 to 1983, where he pioneered the first course of tuition in these specialised aspects of musical composition at a musical conservatoire in this country. In September, 1964, he was appointed music editor to the Music Department of Faber & Faber Ltd (now Faber Music Ltd), which position he held until 1974. While at Faber’s he was Benjamin Britten’s personal editor, from 1963 to 1971, being responsible for the editorial work on that composer’s works from “Curlew River?to “Owen Wingrave? and on many works by Gustav Holst.
The years from 1948 ?when Carey Blyton began to take piano lessons and started to show an increasing interest in music ?to l953 ?when he commenced his formal training as a musician at Trinity College of Music, London ?were crucial years, in which his style as a composer was forged. These years included his participation in the activities of The Beckenham Salon as accompanist in his own songs and have been described by one writer as his ‘naive period?
In the three decades after 1970 Carey Blyton concentrated on music for schools, choirs and competitions, not returning to serious song-writing until the year 2000, when he wrote a short, epigrammatic song-cycle based on Eastern poems called Lyrics from the East for Ian and Jennifer Partridge and a 7-verse memorial ballad, Dirge for St. Patrick’s Night, a setting of a poem by Elsa Corbluth written after the death of her daughter aged 18.
Active in the Beckenham/Bromley area of Kent between 1950 and 1954, The Beckenham Salon was an informal association of writers, poets, composers and other creative artists which provided an outlet for their artistic activities. Carey Blyton was one of the five founder members.
For the first two years it operated in private houses, along the lines of the l9th century salons. It ‘went public?in 1952 and the last public concert took place in 1954, after which it ceased its activities.
Through this organisation, Carey Blyton was able to hear (and often actively participate in) the first performances of most of his works from Op.1 to Op.15 (mainly songs and chamber music) ?an invaluable experience for a young composer at the outset of his career.
Works available from the catalogue of Bardic Edition
Golden Road to Sammarkand, The - Orchestra
On Holiday - Suite for Strings
Overture ‘The Hobbit?- Orchestra
Overture ‘The Hobbit?- Concert Band (arr. Paul Harvey)
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