An update on our search for information about the music of Farnhill-born composer Joseph Russell Williams.
We've solved the minor question of where Joseph's elder brother, Thomas Rhondda Williams, was when the 1901 census was taken. He wasn't at home with his parents in New Road, Farnhill - because he was in hospital. A Rhondda Williams, of the right age, is listed along with lots of other young children in a temporary fever hospital on Keighley Road, Skipton.
Sadly, we've been unsuccessful in tracking down any of Joseph's music.
We were able to confirm with the Radio Times archive people that the works mentioned in the Keighley News were performed on the BBC Third Programme in 1947. However, enquiries made of several music publishers in the UK, the US, and on the continent, to try and track down the music, have not been successful. Also, the Performing Rights Society, which ensures that composers receive payment for performances of their published works, have no record of any performances of music by a Joseph Russell Williams.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (who performed some of Joseph's music before WWII) and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra (the successor organisation to the BBC Northern Orchestra who played his new "Sinfonietta" in 1947) were both unable to help us as their records don't go back that far.
However, the nice people of the BBC Phil did suggest a possible solution to the question of how pieces could have been performed on the radio without a music publisher or the PRS having any knowledge of them. Apparently in the 1930s and 40s it was not unusual for even major works to be performed from unpublished, hand-written manuscripts.
If this is the case, and none of Joseph Russell Williams music was ever published, then it is unlikely that we'll ever be able to locate the manuscripts.
Unless they're still at the back of someone's cupboard somewhere ? Anyone ?
Note: The Farnhill and Kildwick Local History Group would like to thank everyone at CBC Radio (Canada); British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors; Music Publishers Association; BBC Philharmonic Orchestra; Radio Times Archive; Carl Fischer Music, New York; Schott Music GmbH, Berlin; Music Sales Group (Novellos); Boosey and Hawkes; and the Performing Rights Society for their help in trying to resolve this mystery.
Update posted: 26/07/2014