Vincent Bach (back row – 4th from left) in his days as Solo Cornet with The Scarborough Spa Orchestra
From 1988 to 1991 I was a member of The scarborough Spa Orchestra. This lovely seaside job kept me going for over four months a year whilst I got my career going after leaving college. This is a very old orchestra with a history crossing three centuries.
Orchestra seasons in the UK would stretch from September to May and musicians would look for work in the many seaside spa orchestras to pay the bills over the summer period. The Scarborough Spa orchestra is the last remaining of it’s kind.
One day, the music librarian, Ken Whiting, approached me because he had found a programme featuring Vincent Bach as cornet soloist during the wars. He was playing Sullivan’s ‘The Lost Chord’ and something else (which I can’t remember, as I lost my copy some years back!).
We repeated the programme ourselves and I featured as soloist, playing my Vincent Bach large bore, short model cornet. I still play the instrument in the RLPO every couple of weeks today. John Wilbraham owned the cornet before me. When I told him about it and showed him the programme it pieced together something he had been wondering about for years. he told me that the great cornet soloist Jack Mackintosh had been a lifelong correspondent of Vincent Bach and had met him, as a young boy, when Mackintosh’s family travelled from the North East to Scarborough to holiday by the seaside in the summer.
The present solo trumpeter with The Scarborough Spa Orchestra, Mark Addison, sent me the above photo and the following letter from Vincent Bach to the then Music Director in Scarborough, Alec McClean. It’s a small world, this trumpet playing thing…
VINCENT BACH, the master of melody First class Cornet-Virtuoso. Perman. address: BADEN B. VIENNA, PFARRPL. 6 AUSTRIA Mr. BACH spielt Alexander-Cornet (Hof-Instrumenten-Fabrik, Mainz). [Top left corner – photograph (small – 2 by 3 cm at most) of V.B. holding cornet.] Left column: REPERTOIRE: FANTASIAS: G. Cords: Concert-Fantasie in Es moll. C. Höhne: Slavische Fantasie. P. Egghardt: Ungarische-Variationen. Th. Hoch: Fantasie brillante. The dream of love. V.Bach: Scene hongroise. etc. CONCERT-POLKAS & GALOPPS: J. Hartmann: Fadore Polka. F. Brase: Concert-Polka O. Panoch: Record-Galopp etc. SONGS etc. G. Cords: Romance. V.E. Nessler: The Trumpeter of Sakkingen. L. Denza: Si tu m’aimais. A. Sullivan: The lost chord. E. Nevin: The Rosary. P. Tosti: Good bye. Ch. Goundod: Serenade. E. Grieg: Solveigs Song F. Jaksch:
Erzherzog Johann Lied. etc. [Letter to Alick Maclean] Dear Mr. Maclean. Berlin 23. VI. 1913 Lutzowstr[?] 18. III. I am thanking you so much for your nice letter for which I was more than surprised. I t[h]ought you are cross with [me] for I didnt [sic.] go again to the Spa orchestra. But now I believe you understand my business & I expect to have a better way on the music halls. I never was a good orchestra player. I read terrible [sic.] bad, and when I made a mistake in the orchestra I was very nervous for solo playing. And I always was tired in Scarboro. I had to practise very busy to study new songs[.] I had to study what I learned by Mr Werner & so I was after the difficoult [sic.] orchestral pieces always tired for the cornet solos & played never well. But now I have a splendid mouth [95r] and I play lots of times at the concerts the high f [written (crotchet above staff)] I also have splendid new pieces for cornet they are very difficoult [sic.] and nice music. I have owfully much fortune at the German halls. I had at the Colo[i?]sseum at Munich so much success that I had to give every evening 2 – 3 ancore. So I was booked from the biggest German Variety Agencys and have the splendid engagements at the nicest halls. But I cannot understand: I never can get a booking of English agents. I was sending newspapers to them & they told me that it is impossible to find engagements for me without sketch. Only the agency: “Auger & Bauer” they are coming to Germany next month to hear me playing. Well I am just now at Berlin and [f.96] have concert work and also I made arrangements for gramophone recording for autumn. Next month (1.-31. July) I am playing at the Eden Theatre at Hamburg. I expect Scarboro may be very nice this year because it is not so much raining than last year. Berlin is a lovely town and there is the best place for my business. Well I hope you also have great success at this season and am sending the best wishes Yours very sincerely Vincent Bach Till 29. June: Berlin, Lutzowstr. 18.III. from 30. June: Hamburg Eden Theatre. [top of second page, above letter head, written upside down: ‘Please excuse my terrible writing; I have so much to do’]