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ClassicsOnline Home » JOYCE: Toto / Dreams of You / A Thousand Kisses
(1873 - 1963)
was born in Belgravia, London on 25th May 1873, the son of a band sergeant in the Grenadier Guards.
He studied the violin and piano from an early age and soon put that ability to
a practical and lucrative use by playing at dancing academies, including those
of the Empire ballet-mistress, Katti Lanner, and Madame Genée, a leading
ballerina of the day.
Joyce became known
as "The English Waltz King" or "The English Waldteufel", so
it is surprising to find his first composition at the age of eleven, was not a
waltz but a march. Dan Godfrey, later a prominent figure in Bournemouth musical life (including conductor of the Municipal,
later Symphony Orchestra) was bandmaster of the Grenadiers and played this
march a good deal, including once to the visiting Shah of Persia, who demanded
Joyce played in
various dance-bands from teenage years onwards, occasionally travelling on cruise
ships, where, as' Arthur Joyce' (as he often called himself) he would be listed
as a bandsman in the ship's crew. 1896, for example, found him aboard the SS
Lusitania sailing the Norwegian fjords.
By 1909, Joyce was
still not sure whether his future lay mainly in the theatre or the ballroom.
There was a period spent at the Oxford Music Hall playing
for artists like Harry Lauder, Marie Collins and George Robe)'. He took over,
at the Court Theatre, Liverpool, as musical director for the legendary Ellen
Terry on a tour of Mistress-of-the-Robes, but it was not long before the
popularity of his band made any lingering indecision disappear for good, for,
by the early 1900s, he had his own dance orchestra, and as his compositions
began to blossom, so did the demand for his players. They would travel to
stately homes, large hotels, anywhere that required music for dancing. During
the five-day Christmas holiday of 1911, for example, Joyce and his band covered
over 2000 miles by train, taking in Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh
amongst other places. The number of players varied according to the venue (and
the pocket of the particular employer) from a small ensemble, (occasionally
only Joyce himself) to an orchestra of a hundred, as for the Coronation Costume
Ball of 1911 at the Royal Botanic Gardens.
now included the Royal Family themselves, and his many engagements in this area
led him to jnclude 'under Royal patronage' on the cover of his brochure Inside
he listed his compositions, along with his availability for 'Dances, Concerts,
Receptions and Garden Parties, Town or Country, piano solo or any number of
musicians. Uniform (if required) for Garden Parties (Green and Silver Lace).'
At one such party, given by the Duchess of Sutherland, two young boys came up
to Joyce while he was playing the piano, and started strumming along
themselves, one in the treble, the other in the bass -they were the future
George VI and Duke of Windsor.
As a familiar
figure in the major ballrooms, Joyce had this portrait drawn of him by a Daily
Mail columnist on 20th October 1911, giving some idea of the high esteem in
which he was held at the time:
To dancers in this country his ever-smiling face and jovial presence
are necessary adjuncts at many halls. He sits in that familiar attitude at the
piano, watching the throng of dancers with the affectionate eye of the
connoisseur, ruling over their every movement with that power of sympathy - it
cannot be coldly discussed as conducting - which belongs only to him who is
born with the spirit of the dance in him. Watch him and you will catch the very
genius of the art in his every look and gesture 50 long as people dance,
happiness radiates from him and communicates itself irresistibly to those under
the all-potent spell of his faithful band - a company of kindly wizards.
He was so in
demand that, as he told the Daily Mirror, with some amusement in 1934,
he often had to travel from one late engagement to another and change clothes
The windows of the four-wheeler were discreetly plastered with brown
paper, but the driver, having failed in his instructions, to 'take his time'
drew up prematurely at our destination, where a manservant opened the carriage
door revealing me -in my underpants!
recalled that he found the dancing programmes he had to play in his earliest
days ail very much the same, and so thought he would try a waltz of his own,
for the sake of variety , and secondly to give his band something distinctive
to play. His first efforts in the field of dance-music composition were
medley-waltzes - that is, series of popular tunes strung together rather in the
way, in later years, others would treat his own waltz tunes. The first original
waltz that attracted attention was called Sweet Memories. His manner of
composition was straightforward enough. He usually finished each piece the very
same day he had started it. The germ of the idea, however, would come anywhere.
'I can never sit down deliberately and write waltz tunes', he declared in 1912,
'I let them come to me when they will'. Sometimes the work would be put away in
a drawer and then perused at a later date to see if what had seemed wonderful
at its conception still retained its appeal for its creator. Many sheets of
manuscript paper found their way into the wastepaper basket at this stage
because he particularly disliked revising material.
generally follow a set pattern - introduction (often not in 3/4 time) main
theme (usually repeated) secondary theme (usually repeated, and in the dominant
or subdominant), repeat of the main theme, and Coda. The latter was often made
up of the main and secondary themes again with some different material (a true
Coda) tacked on to the end. This worked very well in the ballroom but in
concert use (and in these recordings) some judicious editing was required to avoid
over-repetition, without destroying the general balance of each piece.
Early on in his
composing career Joyce came to the conclusion that the Viennese waltz, then in
vogue, was not suited to the temperament of most English dancers. As a result
he decided to write a Valse-Lente of a smoother, dreamier, character - hence
the number of times that 'dream' features in the titles.
By 1913, Joyce's
most popular waltzes were published on the continent by Bote & Bock in Berlin, and Max Eschig in France,
as well as in America. A stem and imposing Joyce peers out from
the top of the German advertisement, looking for all the world like a teutonic
bandmaster, complete with pince-nez and military moustache, smartly turned up
at the edges.
As the gramophone
industry developed, Joyce was invited to record with his band, and did so,
primarily for the National Gramophone Company from 1912 onwards. In fact, he
was the first British bandleader to make records designed for dancing,
following in the wake of otherwise German ones. In future years, few
dance-medley records of the period did not have at least one Joyce waltz in
them. Artists included Charlie Kunz, Alfredo Campoli, Debroy Somers, and many
The heyday of
Joyce's dance band was ostensibly just before and after the First World War.
(It was disbanded during the War itself as most of the players volunteered or
were called up. Joyce himself joined the Middlesex Regiment.) After this
period, he continued to write for the ballroom and the concert hall. With the proliferation
of cinemas, his music was increasingly heard, along with others such as his
near contemporary Albert Ketèlbey, as accompaniment to silent films. He never
grasped, however, the opportunities that lay before him which Ketèlbey, Haydn
Wood, Eric Coates and others took up so successfully, that of writing light
concert music of a more extended character than the restrictions of the
ballroom waltz allowed; for he always considered his waltzes as pieces for
dancing, and not primarily for listening.
Joyce also became
a prisoner of his own style. While many contemporaries (some featured in this
series) adapted their language to the changing years, his music remains firmly
in the Edwardian era. One of his last published pieces, Recruits On Parade, came
out in 1951, but it could quite easily have been 1911. This artistic
intransigence revealed itself in an article he wrote for a 1920s magazine,
primarily on the rise of jazz:
We have slipped back to the jungle
and I believe it is due to the flood of maudlin stuff manufactured before and
after the War. Peace released the pent-up passions of people only too anxious
to welcome any chance however animal, which gave jazz its chance. However,
conditions are improving and everywhere I find a newly awakened enthusiasm for
the lighter classics and the best work of modern composers.
Even the arrival
in the Joyce household of an adopted daughter in the 30s (he was nearly 60 by
now) did not lessen his grip on bygone years. Here, then, was a man, born a
Victorian, who lived, more or less an Edwardian ail his life, through the
reigns of two Georges and into the new Elizabethan age. His one concession to
progress and all-round passion, outside music, was the motor car.
During the autumn
of 1962 Joyce's health, which up to then had been relatively robust, began to
deteriorate. He spent Christmas in hospital suffering prostrate gland problems.
A period of home nursing followed, and on 22nd March 1963 he suffered a fatal
heart attack. He was 89 years old, and could look back on a glittering career
as a practical musician, and as a composer could reflect that at least one of
his tunes (Dreaming), if not more, were instantly recognisable around
the world, if not always by name. Few of us can say that.
The waltz Dreaming
could be said to have started the craze for 'hesitation' waltzes that swept
Europe in the years up to the First World War. Dating from
1911, it remains Joyce's most famous composition, and most familiar to
audiences, few of whom could give it a title. The title in fact sums up the
composer's basic intention in so many of his waltzes -that of giving the public
a more 'dream-like' quality to the more forthright Viennese original. Between
1911 and 1920 the waltz sold one and a quarter million copies. This did much to
further Joyce's career and it remains the most recorded of all Joyce's works
with over forty versions issued over the years. It was strongly featured in the
1949 film Trottie True to evoke the Edwardian period of its set ting.
 Prince Of
Wales Grand March
Moving, as he was,
in royal circles by 1914, it is not surprising that Joyce decided to dedicate
this 'grand march' to the Prince of Wales, the future Edward VIII and Duke of
Windsor. The Prince, cigarette in hand, is featured on the cover of the piano
score, and the work includes quotations from 'God bless the Prince of Wales'.
(Joyce was to dedicate one of his last waltzes, Vidorious, to another
leading dignatory, Winston Churchill, as a celebratory gesture at the end of
hostilities in 1945.)
d'automne, the earliest of
Joyce's works in this collection, betrays its date, 1908, by its title. English
publishers still considered French titles more commercially desirable than
vernacular ones for light miniatures, as even Elgar found out with his
erstwhile English-named salon pieces. The waltz was very successful, and
remains one of Joyce's most recorded works, with artists as diverse as Django
Reinhardt, Sidney Bechet, Jack Payne, Charlie Kunz, numerous dance bands, a
highland band and a balalaika duo, all finding their own particular way of
evoking a Dream Of Autumn.
First published in
1946, the polka Frou-Frou shows Joyce as at home in 2-time as he was in
his more familiar 3-time. The title is presumably an allusion to one of the
grisettes in Lehar's Merry Widow, -the one who found more favour with
the composer than her friends, Lolo, Dodo, Jou-Jou, Clo-Clo and Margot!
 A Thousand
The title of the
waltz A Thousand Kisses came as a result of a chance remark by a friend
of Joyce's, at seeing a beautiful woman coming into the room. 'What a lovely
girl! -she's worth a thousand kisses'. And around that verbal phrase, Joyce
wrote this waltz in 1910. Whether the lady was the Miss Madge slowburn to whom
it is dedicated is not recorded. The waltz, however, was obviously familiar
enough to Charlie Chaplin for him to incorporate it into a subsequent music
soundtrack to his 1925 silent classic, The Gold Rush, in the saloon
Camp in the Desert
Camp Attacked by Brigands
 Convoy on
pieces of Joyce survive, and although the Caravan Suite is made up of
three movements, each movement is subdivided into smaller sections, making it
less 'extended' than one might immediately think. Dating from 1926, it is very much
influenced by the oriental miniatures of composers such as Ketèlbey. Like him,
Joyce obviously had in mind the music's suitability as accompaniment to the
silent films of the time, many of which were rich in exotic tales of an
idealised, fictitious East.
The first movement
begins mysteriously, after which we hear sunrise in the Desert and, with
the sun fully risen (and after a bar's rest) comes Camp Awakening, Morning Call. The middle movement is a fiery allegro,
with sections individually labelled Preparing for the Fight, The Attack,
Horses Galloping, Brigands Driven Off, The Prayer, Sun Dance and Peace
and Glory in the Camp. The finale is a march interrupted only by An
Eastern Chant which fades and fades, à la Borodin's Steppes Of Central Asia.
 Dreams of
Even though his
waltzes were rarely designed as songs, Joyce could hardly resist putting lyrics
to at least one section of them - however weak they were! Dreams Of You is
a good example of this. Again 'dream' is in the title, the atmosphere is duly
dream-like, and all seems well. In reality, World War Two was at its height
(1942) but Joyce cocooned his listeners wonderfully, within his carefully chosen
perameters, with this charming valse lente.
The title of this Dance
de ballet, as Joyce called it, refers to his sister-in-law, Iris. She had a
walking disability, so the use of her name in this connection is particularly
touching. It uses as its theme a song in the show Toto (heard elsewhere
on this album) called samples, but expands it, and provides as a middle
section an expressive melody for violas and cellos.
 Passing Of
The character of
Salome held a tremendous fascination for writers, composers, and audiences in
the early years of this century. Apart from the Oscar Wilde play, and the
subsequent Richard Strauss opera, many dancers, like Maud Allan, keen to push
the restrictions of the Lord Chamberlain's office to the limit, and to be
assured of full houses, offered the 'dance of the seven veils' as an enticing
number in their programmes. Joyce wrote three valses orientales on the
subject during his career -Vision of Salome (1909), Phantom of Salome
(1945) and this one, which first appeared as the newly commissioned Evening
News Waltz no.2 in Apri11912. (The previous year, the newspaper had
initiated a competition for the best English waltz -about which Joyce had
written some tips for aspiring composers -and in future years commissioned
Joyce again, most notably with the Waltz no.3, Always Gay.) In the first
few days of publication, it had been bought by over 1500 bands and probably
received its first public performance at the Victoria Hall, Ealing on 24th
April 1912. The audience there could hardly compare with the 8000 who crowded
into the Empress Hall, Earl's Court, a year later when Joyce conducted the
Queen's Hall Orchestra in the waltz. The cover design by w. R. George
accentuated Joyce's oriental intentions with its image of Salomé on the floor
of Herod's palace, Titian hair glinting in the moonlight, the palace gardens in
50,000 copies of
this piano score were printed on the first run, and through constant reference
to the piece in the Evening News for months afterwards, these were soon
sold. Joyce wrote in the newspaper: ' As a sequel to my [Vision of] Salome waltz,
it is, naturally, an Eastern dance, the principal theme of which is a
recurring, dirge-like lament. My great object was to create something really
dramatic and when l got the idea in my head, l let myself become saturated with
Eastern notions, imagining l heard the clashing of cymbals, the beating of
tom-toms, and all that sort of thing. The results, at first, caused something
like consternation in my household, and l surprized myself.'
In May 1912, it
was published in France by Max Eschig, who commented:
'For the first time, you [England] have an
Englishman who can write a good waltz.'
 Tata (Selectian)
into musical theatre just twice. ln 1923 with Gabrielle, and seven years
earlier, with Toto. This 'comedy with music' opened at the Duke of
York's Theatre onApril19th 1916, with lyrics by Arthur Anderson, and music by
Joyce, and Merlin Morgan. The book, by Gladys Unger, was based on a French play
by Alfred Capus called Les Deux Ecoles (known in English as Better
Not Enquire and a vehicle for the legendary Charles Hawtrey). Reviews were
mixed regarding the play itself. One critic found it 'quite good of its kind,
but not very humorous', but the individual performances and the music
especially were more favourably received. The Evening News declared that
Toto 'differs from other plays of the kind in that the music is more
important than the play. It is an unusual feature and it argues a certain
boldness in those responsible'.
Joyce and Morgan
wrote separate numbers for the production (a practice Joyce repeated later in Gabrielle
with G. H. Clutsam) and Morgan himself conducted a pot-pourri of runes from
the show on an old Columbia 78, but this new selection features only
Written in 1932, Acushla,
or Darling, is an affectionate tribute to his wife, Florence, whom he had married in 1919. The words, by Bruce
Sievier, set to the opening theme, run:
Sure your eyes are like the summer skies, Acushla, Maiden Fair,
And your lips are like the berries on the holly growing there;
AlI the trees in Autumn wear shades of auburn like your hair.
And you're mine divine, Acushla, you're me darling maiden fair.
connection with Joyce is a tenuous one. Although the surname might suggest one
some generations back, its significance here lies simply in the fact his wife
had a fondness for lreland and things Irish.
Like 'Dream' and
'Salomé', 'Bohemia' is a word that appears more than once in
Joyce's works. In one of his last published songs, in 1952, he managed to
combine two of these three, in Dreams of Bohemia. Eleven
years earlier, in 1941, he penned this 'concert valse'. Like many of his
compositions from the 40s onwards, they were designed not so much for
the ballroom as for the silver screen. This period saw the rise of the
'recorded music libraries' that many publishers set up to provide material for
radio, documentaries, newsreels, and later, television, and several of Joyce's
compositions, like this waltz, feature in one of these libraries - that of
Bosworth & Co. Ltd.
 Brighton Hike
Apart from an
early song / dance (cakewalk, actually) called I'll Dance Till De Sun Breaks
Through (which Joyce recorded with his band in 1912) there are few more
totally unrestrained moments in Joyce's output than the 'vocal march-two step' Brighton
Hike, and for a man of 74 (it was written in 1946) it betrays little sign of
aging. Like so many pieces, it has words (presumably by the composer himself)
at various points in the score. At the first change of key (to the subdominant)
are the following: -
Merrily on we go,
Singing the songs we know,
We know the road, what ho! -
Stepping from heel to toe! We don't want a bike, We want to hike,
Hiking along to Brighton.
… and we don't want to be home till the morning.
And in the final
four bars: -
Where are my Sunday clothes?
Far, far away.
 Song of
For many years,
Joyce's band had been employed to play at May Balls at Oxford
and Cambridge universities. During the Second World War,
he even took his family to Oxford to live for a short period at the height
of the London bombing. 50 it was, perhaps, no surprise
that, in 1946, he decided to write the waltz Song of the River and
dedicate it to the two universities, presumably alluding to their recreational
and romantic use of the river, rather than any competitive one, given the words
that are set to the opening theme of the waltz (probably by Joyce himself) that
follow a short four-bar introduction.
Row, row together,
Happy and singing,
Love bells are ringing.
Row, row in moonlight,
stars twinkling 'Goodnight'.
Drifting on home tide
Just you by my side.
performance of the waltz took place in the BBC Home Service programme, Those
Were The Days, in Apri11946, played by the Harry Davidson Band conducted by
Last Albums Viewed
JOYCE: Toto / Dreams of You / A Thousand Kisses