THE D'OYLY CARTE OPERA COMPANY

Ralph Horner (m.d., 1879-85, 1887)

[Born Newport, Monmouthshire 28 Apr 1848, died Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada 7 Apr 1926]

Ralph Joseph Horner studied at the Leipzig Conservatory from 1864 to 1867. In 1868 he settled in London as a teacher of piano, singing, and harmony. He conducted the Peckham Choral Society and, from 1873-75 was choirmaster at St. Mary's Church, Peckham. From 1875 he was active as an operatic conductor in England, and in June 1879 became musical director for the Comedy Opera Company Ltd. "B" Company, later Mr. D'Oyly Carte's "Second 'Pinafore' Company." On December 30, 1879, Horner had the distinction of conducting that Company in the British copyright performance of The Pirates of Penzance at the Bijou Theatre, Paignton.

Over the next six years he was musical director Carte's "Second 'Pinafore' Company" (through December 1880), "A" Company (January-March 1881), "B" Company (March 1881-December 1882), No. 1 "Iolanthe" Company (February-July 1883), "A" Company (February-July 1884), "C" Company (July-December 1884), "A" Company again (December 1884), and "C" Company once more (September-December 1885). In 1880 the Second "Pinafore" Company performed, as one of their companion pieces, an operetta composed by Horner called Four by Honours.

Horner left the D'Oyly Carte organization in December 1885, later serving as musical director for the Willie Edouin Company's touring production of George Dance's burlesque novelty Oliver Grumble (March-June 1886). Horner then returned to the D'Oyly Carte in January 1887 as musical director for "A" Company's production of The Mikado (January-February), and then, with Carte's newly-formed "C" Company, had the honor of conducting the first provincial production of Ruddigore, starting in March 1887. He left the Carte organization for the last time in September of that year to be musical director at the Strand Theatre in London for a revival of Alfred Cellier's The Sultan of Mocha. It ran until January 1888.

In 1888 he moved to Nottingham where he conducted musical societies, and from 1895-1905 was lecturer on music at Nottingham University. Horner moved to New York in 1906 and resumed touring as an operatic conductor. He then located to Winnipeg, Canada, in 1909 as director of the Imperial Academy of Music and Arts, also serving as conductor of the Oratorio Society (1909-12). From 1916 he was bandmaster in the Canadian Army, and he also served on the Council of the Canadian Guild of Organists.

Horner's compositions included the operas Amy Robsart and The Belles of Barcelona (Winnipeg, 1911), six operettas (including Four by Honours), two oratorios (St. Peter and David's First Victory), four sacred cantatas, a symphony, chamber music, and about a hundred songs.



Page created October 9, 2002 © 2002 David Stone