|Bandmaster Herbert Mountain - 1945-1950|
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Boscombe Band were indeed fortunate in securing as its new bandmaster one of the army's leading musicians. When commissioned on 22nd July 1945 Herbert Mountain had already served 23 years in this capacity firstly with Sheffield Citadel and then with Blackpool Citadel. He bid a reluctant farewell to Blackpool in 1945 when the firm for whom he worked ceased trading, but he soon established himself in the house furnishing business at Bournemouth partnering Retired Bandmaster E. Broughton of Salisbury.
Born into a salvationist family in Sheffield, Herbert Mountain had soon grown to love the Army and its music. At an early age he realised his ability to 'make parts fit', and before he was 12 had already arranged music for himself, his brother and other boys to play. He made rapid progress as a trombone player, though later confessing that he seldom practised, and in December 1923 became the first SA bandsman to broadcast a trombone solo.
Herbert had a secret for maintaining the fighting faith of his men so that the exacting service was the natural outflow of their love to God. He instructs and conducts his Band from a box some nine inches high. That box often became a mercy seat. If the bandmaster knew that any bandsman was in spiritual difficulty - and he usually knew - he would say, quietly and simply, as the practice was closing "Is there any one who would care to kneel at the box?" Often times there was a response and Herbert has seen many crowding around the box to renew their dedication to God.
Upon his commissioning as Boscombe bandmaster he was warmly received by the bandsmen, who greatly respected his reputation. Herbert Mountain had high standards for Army banding - music had to be the hobby that took over from all other. Regular attendances at all indoor and outdoor meetings was mandatory - a very good explanation had to be given for any absence. This well intentioned enthusiasm for putting the band first sometimes proved detrimental to the corps; bandsmen were not encouraged to join the songsters, and all but the YP Band Leader were forbidden to teach in sunday school. It was also considered unworthy for a bandsman to stay at home with the children - this was the wife's responsibility.
Great things were expected of the Band after his appointment, and reports evidenced the progress that had already been made.
The band (Mountain) numbering about 35, is in excellent form, and gave me some of the best playing I have heard since before the war. It has cultivated a very pleasing 'singing' tone and its future seems assured. The band, practically at pre-war strength, has been revolutionised under Bandmaster H. Mountain. It is reaching a standard of technique that will place it as one of the best in the South of England. The bandmaster seldom uses a
score, even in the most intricate scoring, and it was a thrill to hear the contrasts in light and shade and the correct interpretation. The inclusion of tympani manipulated by Bandsman (Gordon) Lawrence is a distinct asset.
A score was never used in public by the bandmaster who apparently had difficulty in interpreting music directly from it, preferring instead to take the score home and commit it to memory by playing it through on the piano 3 or 4 times. As a result the band had a limited repertoire and, not unnaturally, he made regular use of pieces that he himself had composed such as Armee du Salut, Echoes from the Hills, Sheffield Citadel and Naaman the Leper. His favourite composition - the air varie Love at Home - was featured on virtually every programme. No doubt written as a result of the happiness of his own home, where meals were shared regularly with Salvationists and friends, it was published only after some controversy as it was considered to have 'too much of a swing' for those days.
Deputy Bandmaster Harold Walker had instigated a New Instrument scheme early in 1945, in anticipation of handsmen returning from the war. Money had already been raised from Sales of Work, musical festivals and a special programrme given by RCAF (Overseas) band. These fund raising activities were now stepped up and on 14th September a Grand Musical Festival was held in Bournemouth Town Hall as part of the SA composers weekend.
A capacity crowd of 1500 packed the hall, not only to hear Boscombe and Swindon bands and the local songster brigade, but also to meet such well known names in the army's music world as Coles, Jakeway, Kirk, Dalziel, Catelinet, Boon and Mountain. As a result of this, and further musical festivals, the band were able to purchase four Triumphonic basses (2 BBb and 2 EEb) at a total cost of £557, and on 9th April four senior census board locals presented them to their new owners. A further pair of EEb basses were added in May.
A weekend campaign at Regent Hall in October 1946 re-established the bands reputation in the capital, and brought them this high acclaim:
Bandmaster Mountain is to be congratulated on the performance and the spiritual atmosphere created by the band. The band is precise in attack, clear in articulation and of excellent tone, and the large and critical audiences at
the festivals were not slow to show enthusiastic appreciation: The renderings of King of Kings, and Moments with Tchaikovsky were especially notable, and Summerland gave scope to the band's rhythmic sense which is a feature of its playing. The conducting of the bandmaster, who did not use a score throughout the weekend is delightful to watch. Every movement is significant and effective and quite without exaggeration. His left hand, often limp, suddenly becomes expressive and dominating.
In 1947 Boscombe was awarded the singular honour of being the first SA Band to campaign overseas after world war II. Realising the enormity of the task in front of them the band devoted much time in its final rehearsal to prayer and meditation. Band-Sergeant Guy Hewitt asked that every bandsman would re-dedicate himself for service. As a result spontaneous prayer flowed ceaselessly and the climax of each petition was that the campaign be crowned with spiritual success.
As the clock of a nearby church began to strike eight on Thursday evening (June 19th) the Hook of Holland continental train slid casually out of Liverpool Street Station carrying Boscombe Band on the second stage of its journey to Holland.
For the 48 men comprising the touring party it was no casual departure. Theirs was the first British corps band to visit the continent of Europe in this new post-war era and whilst Major George Baker (the Boscombe CO accompanying the band as IHQ representative), BM Herbert Mountain and the bandsmen were in excellent spirits, keenly anticipating the campaign, they were humbly conscious of a heavy responsibility resting upon them.
By the time the last stroke had sounded the train had become swallowed up in the distant cloud of engine
smoke and as the small company of well-wishers, headed by Major Saywell, quietly dispersed it was difficult to realise that, if
everything went 'according to plan', the band would have arrived on Dutch soil before the friendly clock again struck eight.
On arrival at the Hook of Holland the band were introduced to the National Secretary for Bands in Holland, Major Van Dalen. He accompanied the band throughout their travels, and any detailed description of the tour is best left to him:-
Boscombe Band opened its campaign in Holland at Dordrecht. The visitors arrived at noon and were greeted by the local corps band. In the afternoon, following a march through the town, the band was received at the town hall by the burgomaster after the Dutch and the English National Anthems were played.
At night, in the beautiful Wilhelmina church, over 1,200 people attended the first festival. Lt. Commissioner
Charles H. Durman, the Territorial Commander, who presided, was translated by Major Palstra. Major Van Dalen,
till recently the head of the Netherlands Music Department, and Major Deurloo (D.C. South Netherlands Division) also assisted.
Echoes of the Hills and Excerpts of Mozart were particularly
enjoyed, and a cornet solo by Deputy Bandmaster Harold Walker was much appreciated.
At Rotterdam, when the band's arrival at 9.30am was followed by a march to the town hall, whole streets were kept free and traffic stopped so that the visitors could march unhindered.
Entering the great reception hall, where Her Majesty Queen Wilhelmina is received on visiting the town, the band played the British National Anthem. The bandsmen were shown the state room where Mr. Winston Churchill received the Freedom of the City.
Later the band played to the patients of one of the large hospitals of the city. Afternoon tea was served by Rotterdam I Band, whose visit to England last year is still a happy memory. A festival given in a large church, filled to overflowing, was gfeatly enjoyed and brought much blessing.
Amsterdam's Congress Hall was more than full for the Sunday morning holiness meeting. The congregation gave keen
attention as the band played My Jesus and Rockingham. The spirit
of dovotion was felt in the playing, in the testimonies of the men and the earnest address of Major Baker.
Speaking of the programme given in the Orange Church in the afternoon:
After a few words by Bandmaster Mountain The Canadian March is begun. The trained listener is immediately carried away and surprised by the development of the march. The close team work of the cornets is in contrast to the flowing melody, 0 Canada. The clarity of the bass work and the effective trombone solo are typical of the best English brass banding. Bandmaster Mountain inspires his men. His movements are dynamic, yet controlled. Meanwhile, not the technically heavy and musically acrobatical pieces, such as Phil Catelinet's cornet trio, The Heralds, satisfy the listeners. Much bravura makes the playing too 'thick'. The band excels in the con gracia passages.
In Lt. Col. Coles' arrangement Moments with Tchaikovsky and
Eric Ball's King of Kings Bandmaster Mountain leads his men to the heights of musical
expression. The sonorous basses and the trombones, with the rich toned bass trombone, made a delightful background for
the beautiful light instruments and the silver toned soprano. Here are shown the possibilities of brass band playing. We
returned home richer, knowing that Salvation Army music has a power to aid men in their faith.
Speaking of the monday midday broadcast programme:
The excellent playing of Under Two Flags and
My Jesus were features of the broadcast programme. Tucker
was brilliantly played by Deputy Bandmaster Walker. For the first time Dutch Salvationists heard an arrangement of the first
movement of Schubert's Unfinished Symphony. We were astonished at the well balanced
rendering of this masterwork. It was a thrill. The finishing number was Bandmaster Mountain's own
Servicemen - a fine, cheerful march.
The campaign of Boscombe Citadel Band in Holland was a triumphal march through the Netherlands. Everywhere the band conquered the hearts of large crowds. After the visits to Dordrecht, Rotterdam and Amsterdam, the band visited Utrecht on the Sunday night. Nearly two thousand people filled the Buurkerk. The music of the band,which sounded beautiful in the cathedral, the personal testimonies of Band Sergeant Hewitt and Bandsman Norman Cutler and the Bible address of Major Baker (CO Boscombe) made a deep impression. A writer in one of the Utrecht daily papers stated:
The playing of the band showed excellent cultivation from the cornets to the basses, which is not apparent in many professional bands. But not only the musical achievements of this fine band, with its sound team spirit, is impressive. The way in which the men proclaimed the message, which is the purpose of every Salvation Army meeting, revealed the inspiration which lives amongst these men.
When the band arrive in Groningen, after the long journey from Hilversum, where it had played for the
radio, hundreds of people were waiting for the march through the centre of the city to the town hall, where an official
reception took place. The town hall stands amidst ruins, bringing to mind the hand-to-hand fighting of the war, during
which a large part of the city was destroyed.
At night the concert hall 'De Harmonic' was filled to capacity. Hundreds of non-Salvationist bandsmen had come to listen to the band, and were not disappointed. Surely the band was at its best that night. The first movement of the Unfinished Symphony, Moments with Tchaikovsky, the cornet solo Tucker, by Deputy Bandmaster H. Walker, and the trombone solo The Priceless Gift, by Bandsman C. Hayes, were applauded with great enthusiasm.
This band played as a brass band should play, and in a way
which made it seem that no technical difficulties exist for these musicians.
Nieuwsbiad van het Noorden
A high spot of the campaign was the visit to the prison at Leeuwarden. Between seven and eight hundred prisoners, forty of whom are undergoing life imprisonment, were seated on the square in the centre of the prison, and the band marched in to the vociferous applause of the men. The festival, which lasted an hour and a half, was of the highest order. After the short message of Major Baker, which went right to the hearts of the men, the governor thanked the visitors for the blessing and cheer brought to the prisoners. He assured the bandsmen that their playing, as well as their spirit, had amazed him, and that they had never had such a wonderful morning.
A prisoner then came forward and in excellent English assured the Bandmaster and his men of the prisoners' gratitude.
When you will have left this place we shall talk together about your splendid music and all we have heard today. Personally, I must say that the message which has come to us has never before been understood by me so clearly. I thank you and shall think it over. May God bless you
A note on the door of the corps hall announced that every ticket for the night festival was sold. Thus the hall at Leeuwarden was crowded for another first class programme. Among the one thousand two hundred present were nearly six hundred members of non-Salvationist bands and choirs, many visiting the Army for the first time.
At the town hail an official reception took place, and the bandsmen admired the old paintings and fine gobelin tapestry.
The next night the band was at Arnhem, in the overcrowded Klarendalsche Kapel. This building was far too small for the purpose, but one thousand two hundred people were present. It was too warm and too close for the band, but the men surprised the crowd by the quality of their playing.
On Thursday morning the bandsmen visited the battlefields of Arnhem and Oosterbeek, where so many Britishers lost their lives. In the cemetery for British airborne troops the band played a hymn tune and Bandmaster Mountain laid a wreath during a short rememberance service. All present were moved deeply.
On the same night, after a march with The Hague I Band, a festival took place in the Juliana Church at The Hague. More than one thousand eight hundred peoole enjoyed the very good programme. The playing of the selection, Stand by the Flag, on behalf of The Hague I Corps, which lost its building by fire a few months ago, was received enthusiastically and a collection was given to help the rebuilding fund.
March, The Glory of the Combat, selection, The Man of Sorrows, The Unfinished Symphony (first movement), and the air varie Stand Like the Brave, the cornet solo Tucker, the cornet trio The Heralds and the trombone solo Over Jordan, were the numbers in this festival.
The last day was spent in Vlaardingen, a fishing town. The burgomaster and the town council received the band generously. The festival, given in the cathedral, was attended by more than one thousand seven humidred people. The Territorial Commander (Lieut. Commissioner Chas. Durman), who presided, thanked Major Baker, Bandmaster Mountain and the bandsmen for the blessing they had brought to Holland during their eight days campaign. Mrs. Lieut. Commissioner Durman and the Chief Secretary (Lieut. Colonel J. Smael) were also present. Items were listened to in complete silence.
The offical farewell took place on the church square opposite the town hall, where over two thousand people gathered. The band played Sun of My Soul, the Chief Secretary spoke to the bandsmen from the steps of the town hail and the crowds joined in long and warm applause. Cheers for Holland by the bandsmen, cheers for the band by the crowd, then the English and Dutch National Anthems were played and a wonderful campaign came to an end.
The campaign has been an unforgettable memory. The playing of the band was of an exceptionally high standard. The spirit of the bandsmen is excellent. They are real Salvationists, without humbug. The bandmaster is not only a first class conductor and composer, but a Christian gentleman. Thank you comrades.
Each morning had commenced with an 8.30 prayer meeting and band activities seldom finished before 10pm. Little free time was afforded the bandsmen yet, strenuous though it was, the tour proved immensely successful. not once did the band play to a congregation of fewer than 100 people - often the figure was 2000. Their appreciation could not always be shown as the churches which opened their doors to the Army banned applause, preferring that God himself he given all the Glory.
Even on their arrival back in Bournemouth they were allowed little rest. Within 9 hours they were giving a 'Welcome Home' festival, even though this involved hastily borrowing 4 basses to replace the new instruments which had been badly damaged on the return sailing.
The full impact of this campaign will never be known, but it changed the life of at least one man. Joe had been present at a prayer meeting, held on a bombed site in Rotterdam, under the leadership of Band Sergeant Guy Hewitt, and had been so influenced that he returned to God after 23 years of backsliding - a fitting sequel to the band's effort.
Ever eager to find new avenues for band service, Band Secretary Percy Cutler and the CO Major Baker, approached Bournemouth Council in 1946 for permission to use the Fishermans Walk bandstand. Undaunted by refusal Major Baker later returned to the Park entertainments officials, armed with the Band scores of the Unfinished Symphony and Memories of the Masters. Once convinced that the band did feature this type of music in their festivals a trial programme was arranged and the band duly played at Fishermans Walk during the August Bank holiday.
A short season of about 4 bandstand programmes was also given in 1947, but the real breakthough came in 1948 when the Band was invited by the council to give a series of 10. Each programme commenced at 7pm lasted 90 minutes and featured music from a repertoire totalling 50 pieces. With marches, selections, meditations, hymn tune arrangements etc., the full range of Army music was demonstrated and the three soloists of that time were regularly featured. Harold Walker, even in his late forties, never failed to thrill with his cornet solos, which, included Happy all the Day, Cheerful Voices, Tucker, At the Fountain and A Happy Day. YP Band Leader Reg Tubbs, who had been the band soprano player since 1936, became a regular soloist at Fishermans Walk. To Maoriland, which he featured in 1948, he added in later years Variations on an Irish Melody, Kind Words (written by Bandmaster Mountain), The Trumpet Shall Sound, and Jubilate (which included some of his own variations).
His fine soprano playing and dependability made him a tremendous asset to the band, which he later served as Deputy Bandmaster and he never missed a Fishermans Walk programme in 25 years. Chris Hayes, had transferred from Pokesdown to Boscombe in 1931, immediately becoming the band trombone soloist. Renowned for his rare trombone timbre, Chris's repertoire comprised Sound the Battle Cry, Over Jordan, The Priceless Gift, Art Thou Troubled, and Count your Blessings - the latter especially written for him by Brindley Boon.
Nine guineas per programme was greatfully received for the band fund, but of more importance was the new opportunity of bringing a ministry in music to the many hundreds who gathered there each week. Although the message of the music might not have always been understood or appreciated, the band's playing often created an atmosphere congenial to serious discussion about spiritual things; the bandstand soon became an internationally known rendezvous where new friends could be made, old acquaintances renewed and visitors could receive a thought provoking benediction to their holidays.
The foresight of the Band Secretary resulted in a bandstand engagement that has already spanned over 60 years and brought many thousands into contact with the Salvation Army, with results that we might never be able to measure.
Friday, 30th July proved a little bit different from other Fridays, for no sooner had the bandstand programme been given than the Band proceeded to the citadel for supper before boarding a coach for Southampton docks. The overnight sailing to St. Peter Port, Guernsey, marked the commencement of another weekend campaign.
Having docked at 6.30 a.m. the hearts of Bb bass players, Will Rice and Frank Antell must surely have sank when they espied the Clifton Hall perched high on a hill, overlooking the harbour. They were faced with the most onerous task as the Band proceeded to march up the hill playing Gladsome Morn. Having received refreshment at their billets, the Bandsmen were soon back in action with an afternoon openair.
Before departing for home late on Monday night the Band had been responsible for four festivals (one in Candie Gardens) and five open—air meetings.
Bandmaster Mountain was appointed to the International Music Board in January 1949 and on 23rd April he proudly took his band to the Bandmaster's Councils festival. Being held in the Royal Albert Hall for the first time since December 1931 this festival attracted great crowds, the arena alone being completely filled with bandmasters.
Boscombe shared the platform with Chalk Farm, Coventry City and the International Staff Band and together they opened the programme with the Coronation March. Solo spots for Boscombe consisted of Moments with the Masters, and the trombone solo A Prayer, played by Chris Hayes. The band acquitted themselves well and their playing was much appreciated.
Many invitations were received for the Band to visit corps in the North of England, but distance always proved an obstacle. It was overcome on Friday 16th June 1950 when 44 bandsmen, plus wives and sweethearts departed Boscombe for an 8 day tour of the Midlands and the North - an event then considered unique in post war Salvation Army banding. Travelling over 800 miles, the band gave festivals at Nottingham Memorial Halls, Sheffield Citadel, Hull, South Shields, Leeds (where they also played for their lunch at the Montague Burton factory), Manchester and Birmingham Citadel. Capacity crowds warmly received the Band throughout the tour, the highlight of which, for the Bandmaster at least, must have been the weekend at Sheffield Citadel. During the Salvation meeting he had the pleasure of presenting retirement certificates to three bandsmen who had served under his leadership - one of them his own brother James.
At South Shields, the bandmaster took good wishes to Bandmaster George Marshall, whose weak condition made it impossible for him to receive all the Boscombe men who desired to visit him. He sent instead a stirring message to the bandsmen.
With only limited free time - to visit the Founder's birthplace at Nottingham, examine, the crooked spire at Chesterfield, and visit a steel works in Sheffield - the tour was rather strenuous for the bandsmen. They no doubt were encouraged by the support of the ladies for whom accommodation was reserved in hotels and hostels, at a total cost of £4 1s 6d. The success and smooth running of the tour owed much to the meticulous planning of Band Secretary Percy Cutler.
Additional campaigns under Herbert Mountain's leadership included Chalk Farm, Croydon Citadel, Regent Hall, Lewisham, Brighton Congress Hall, Southsea Citadel, Chatham, Exeter Temple, Devonport and Leigh-on-Sea. A single broadcast was also made for the BBC's With Flag Unfurled series and this was directly responsible for at least one backslider returning to Christ.
Harold Walker, Reg Tubbs and Chris Hayes have already been mentioned as the band's principal soloists, but to their number was added Doug Lawrence, a newcomer to the solo cornet bench. His father, Gordon Lawrence - the band's principal percussionist since the early thirties, also featured as a vocal soloist with such songs as Confidence, Wings of Prayer and Companion Mine. Duets were also sung with Bob Allison, who later took over Gordon's role as vocal soloist. Further songs were featured by Ken Dowson. A welcome contribution to every band programme were the monologues of Norman Cutler. Wits End Corner, The Prodigal Bandsman, If, and others never failed to find a receptive ear, and their messages were forcibly brought home.
The week-end of November 4th/5th/6th 1950 was set aside to mark the retirement of Bandmaster Mountain, with meetings led by the British Commissioner, Commissioner Dalziel and the National Secretary for Bands, Sen. Major E. Rance. The Sunday afternoon meeting included the presentation of two new Triumphonic instruments - a bass trombone and a tenor horn, making a total of 24 new instruments secured during his five year leadership.
The citadel was filled to capacity on Monday evening for the retirement and farewell service in which the British Commissioner, himself a former Salvation Army Bandmaster, presented the retirement certificate. An illuminated address, to which bandsmen and soldiers of the corps had subscribed, was also presented, and Bandsman Harold Walker paid a stirring tribute on behalf of the Band.
Even today Bandmaster Mountain is remembered by congregations for his interpretation of hymn tunes, and his ability to make them come alive and by bandsmen for the discerning ear capable of instantly finding the perpetrator of any wrong note.
Although short in stature, the Bandmaster had been great in influence, as stated by Lt. Col. Wellman (DC)
He is a Salvation Army Bandmaster of the highest degree, a musician of considerable merit, and first and foremost a great Salvationist, his name is engraved in Salvation Army history.
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Holland (on tour)