Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Leslie Cochran: Composer

Who was Leslie Cochran? A search of Google gives no real clues. Certainly the chap I am looking for is not a famous American cross-dresser and US street-person or vagrant. Nor is he the author of learned books of educational science. There is no entry in Grove or other musical reference works. More tellingly Philip Scowcroft makes no mention of him in his comprehensive study of light (and not so light) music on MusicWeb International. There is nothing on ‘Cecilia’ the Concert Programme search or the RCM catalogues.

What do we know? Virtually nothing save what he published:-
A Child's Song, Unison Song words by H. J. Timothy London: Stainer & Bell, 1935
Christmas Song; words by N. Ingall London: Augener, 1930
Facility "So easy'tis to make a rhyme"; words by Robert W. Service. London: Ricordi, c1957
In Autumn Song; words by A. Symons London: Stainer & Bell, 1928
The Oxen; words by Thomas Hardy London: Augener, 1927
Roll along Spring, Unison Song; words and music by L. Cochran. London: Stainer & Bell, 1936
Sussex Sketches, for Piano; London: Augener 1925
On the face of it he appears to be a minor composer. Yet I have a copy of his Sussex Sketches for Piano –and they are impressive. This collection of pieces was published in 1925 and at first glance represents a somewhat typical ‘twenties effort – most especially with the titles of each piece. Yet, bearing in mind that these five ‘sketches; are probably about Grade 6, they have sound world that is far removed from the typical character sketch or pedantic work of the period.
The five movements are:-
Blue Butterflies and Wild Thyme
Dew Pans
There is a little village I know
Three Lone Pines
A Right Merry Evening at “Ye Sussex Pad”

The first and second sketches nod to Bartok whist the last has all the panache of either Warlock or Moeran. Alas the Sussex Pad public house, which I believe was near Lancing in West Sussex, was destroyed during the Second World War. I would love to find out a little more about this enigmatic composer.

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