10 July 1929 – 4 November 2022
Composer and poet, Brian Blyth Daubney was an outstanding Founder member of the British Music Society. Joining as member number 44 in 1979, Brian served on the Committee from 1986-1995. During that time, he filled the position of Vice Chairman from 1989-1992 before becoming Chairman; he also filled the role of Journal Editor from 1990 until 1993. In recognition of his substantial contribution to the Society, he was awarded the Berkeley Medal when he retired from the Committee in 1995.
His influence on the Society lives on in our Benjamin Burrows publication (1991) which Brian both wrote and funded. Some of the Society’s earliest recordings capture his skill as a pianist and conductor on BMS cassettes 403 (1983), ENS 141 and Environs 018 which feature the music of Benjamin Burrows.
In 2006 the Society recorded a CD of Brian’s own songs BMS 433:
‘He writes with a sure touch: a feeling for the poems, and a well defined musical idea as the starting-point for his settings… ‘ John Steane, Gramophone
His song I Must Go And Sleep was performed by William Berger (baritone) and past-Chairman John Talbot (piano) at his funeral, and the ceremony closed with the music of Benjamin Burrows Sonatina for Cello & Piano played by Joseph Spooner (cello) and Maureen Galea (piano).
Brian’s nephews Jonathan Sankey and Paul Daubney (the latter also serving on the BMS Committee with his uncle), have given permission for the Society to reproduce an abridged version of his self-written Eulogy and one of his untitled poems:
Eulogy by Brian Blyth Daubney
Born in Bardney on July 10, 1929, Brian was the baby of seven children. He was naturally spoilt and responded to early encouragement with his enthusiasm for acting, which he pursued all his life. He enjoyed performing in the plays for the annual Sunday School Anniversaries and at 17 persuaded his young contemporaries to stage two plays in the Village Hall, so beginning his stage-directing career.
Sister Evelyn, gave him his first studies in piano. Later Miss Jessie Pollington of Bardney and Dr Benjamin Burrows of Leicester taught him. At the Royal Marines School of Music as an Instructor Lieutenant in the RN 1952, he met Kenneth Leighton, the distinguished British composer. His final keyboard disciplines he attributes to the expert teaching he received from Kenneth.
From 1941–1947 he studied at QEGS, Horncastle Grammar School, before graduating from the University of Leicester in 1951 with a London BA and diploma in Education. He remembered notably his History professor, Jack Simmons, and Dr Benjamin Burrows with whom he studied music. In 1980 he was to write his thesis for an M Phil about the life and music of Dr Ben.
Returning to Lincolnshire in 1955 as Head of Music at the Robert Pattinson and then North Kesteven Grammar Schools in North Hykeham, he formed the Bardney Drama Group which gave two plays a year until 1962 when Brian left for his 20 year career as Music and Drama Lecturer at the Leicester College of Education. During this time he asked his retired primary schoolteacher, Nelly Barton to appear and she delighted in these performances. To her he acknowledged a debt of gratitude for her admirable teaching, especially singing, in his primary school.
At College he produced operas with his students and conducted annual choral concerts. He joined the Little Theatre in Leicester and acted, produced, and musically directed for them in many productions. He also was invited to produce the Leicester Opera which he did for fifteen years.
During this period his partner of 51 years, Bob Ford, came to share his life, and Brian spoke gratefully of Bob’s levelling influence on his sometimes wild schemes.
An Exchange Teachers’ programme in 1970 saw him found the University of Evansville Limited Savoyards with his new friend Charles Dunn. For the next twelve years during his summer vacation, with the support of Charles, Brian conducted opera and musical theatre productions, and subsequently formed a second Savoyards South company in Greenwood, South Carolina (1975-9) and finally a third in Tryon, North Carolina, the Foothills Savoyards (1992-97).
The British Music Society, re-formed in 1979, was a vital feature in Brian’s life and he edited
their publications in the 1980s and was Chairman for two years from 1991-1992. He speaks highly of the support his nephew, Paul, who – with no real interest in the kind of music promoted by the Society – nevertheless joined the committee and worked to promote their financial and cultural resources as a selfless and voluntary gesture to his uncle. He
was awarded – as was Paul too when he resigned from the committee – with the Lennox Berkeley Award, the composer Berkeley being the first President of the Society.
Education entered an unhappy period in the 70s when the baby boom had caught up and left diminishing numbers of students in teacher-training. The College was subsumed into the Leicester Polytechnic and a new degree of Performing Arts established. For this Brian’s joint interest in music and drama seemed fitting and he was promoted from Head of Music to Deputy Course Leader. In 1982 he decided to take early retirement and became a part-time examiner for the London College of Music which took him worldwide: as far west as Vancouver and as far east as Borneo. In 1990 his services were recognised with an Honorary Fellowship of the College.
In 1999 he retired full-time with Bob to Southrey where he spent his time expanding his existing portfolio of poetry and music. Bob died in 2008 and since then, Brian has lived alone, enjoying the support of many friends. He gratefully acknowledged too the unfailing care and warm hospitality given to him by his nephew Jonathan and niece Margaret.
Sole survivor of his generation of the Daubney clan from 2011, Brian was very conscious of his role as Family Patriarch. He endeavoured to preserve family links by organising relly-rallies, as his niece, Margaret, and nephew, Drummond jointly named them, for those in the UK. He also kept email contact with the Australian and Canadian Daubney family emigrants with emails and family photographs.
‘Come death, and opened will be the keyboard of eternity, the naked canvas of infinity, the blank cosmic page; all awaiting our expression. No need for thought, words, music, art or craft, We shall confront the purity of total intuition.’