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Thread: Herbert J.Ellis -Thorough School for the Mandoline

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    I have an interesting mandolin tutor which I picked up in a junk shop in Luton (England) some years ago. It is written by Herbert J.Ellis and published by John Alvey Turner (history of the latter at http://www.johnalveyturner.co.uk/page2.html). It seems to be from the 1890s or thereabouts. Most fascinating are the adverts, which includes tutors for banjo, zither, bandurria, japanese one stringed fiddle and portuguese guitarra, as well as a list of several hundred separately published pieces of mandolin music which give a good indication of the repertoire in this period of the 'mandolin boom'. I will try and scan some of this in when I get the time. Anybody come across anything similar, or know more about Ellis?
    "You would stop the sound of my mandolin before it was out of my head" (Arthur Rimbaud)

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    I have a copy of that method as well, tho mine doesn't have the ads you mentioned, just the ones for Turner's publishing house.

    Paul Sparks in The Classical Mandolin says of Ellis:
    Quote Originally Posted by
    One London firm specializing in fretted instrument music was John Alvey Turner who, in about 1888, issued Herbert J. Ellis's Thorough School for Mandolin, the first tutor written by an Englishman. Ellis was a self-taught musician, and a prolific composer of undemanding music for mandolin, banjo, and guitar. He was also a prominent teacher, and led a banjo and mandolin troupe, whose many performances included a six-week engagement in Paris in 1889.
    There is also a rather lengthy entry about Ellis in Philip Bone's The Guitar and Mandolin. Basically, Ellis was born in London 1865 and died at age 38 in 1903. He started out on banjo and wrote a tutor for that first. Bone says the mandolin tutor was first published in 1892. He also says that Ellis pieces were prized for their simplicity and very playable for beginners.

    Jim



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    I don't #know anything about Mr. Ellis but I do own a copy of his "Thorough School for the Guitar" also published by Turner. It is probably similar in content to the mandolin book.

    On the inside of the front cover and both sides of the back cover there are thematic lists of classical mandolin music published by Turner. (with short exceprts for each)

    The listed mandolin music is by the following composers:

    Herbert J. Ellis(10 pieces)
    Norton Greenop (9 pieces)
    Clara Ross (4 pieces)
    Geo. H. Hucke (4 pieces)
    Raoul Clifford (2)
    W.S. Folkestone (3)
    C.P. Elieson (1)
    A.M. Heath (2)
    Karl Selbini (2)
    J.Hutton (1)
    W.H. Squire (2)
    Luigi Spinelli (1)

    The method seems to be fairly typical for its time (I think Neil is correct in assuming 1890s)--nothing exciting about the presentation. It does seem to lean heavily on Carulli...

    I was much more impressed the first time I saw a copy of #one of Justin Holland's methods.

    The only other comment I can offer is that, judging from his picture on the cover, Mr. Ellis was well acquainted with grooming techniques for facial hair.

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    Weirdo a pizzico Eugene's Avatar
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    I have copies of both mandolin methods by Ellis. Sparks was just a bit off in his text. the Thorough School was Ellis's 2nd method, published in 1892. Ellis's first method, and the first method to appear in England, was named for the publisher: Turner's Method for the Mandoline.

    I also have a copy of Justin Holland's 2nd method for guitar of 1876. I agree, JimD, what a fine piece of work that is. Of course, it is almost entirely a compilation of good instructional material by Sor, Carcassi, Aguado, Carulli, Giuliani, and Mertz.

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    What impressed me about #Holland's work was the obvious care in selecting from the European methods and his fine pedagogical sense. Things that seem to be missing from other American methods of the period--that includes mandolin methods as well.




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    By coincidence (or not), Luton, where I picked up the Ellis book, was the home town of Philip Bone, who founded the Luton Mandolin Band in 1896. They became nationally, and indeed internationally known. Next time I'm up in Luton I am planning to do some research on this. One of Bone's mandolins is in Luton museum.
    "You would stop the sound of my mandolin before it was out of my head" (Arthur Rimbaud)

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    Hello,
    As Jim D. rightly says, John Alvery Turner published fairly large quanties of Mandoline music (as well as banjo and guitar). Tutors and music by Ellis (published by Turner) appear every so often..there's a peice on UK Ebay (under search engine for mandoline - in case I can't attach it correctly) just now <a href="http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?
    ViewItem&category=10177&item=3750471303&rd=1" target="_blank">here</a>
    Called "Black Bess" described by the seller as follows:

    An old "Turner's mandolinist no 220" booklet "Black Bess - Polka March". Solo for mandoline with Piano Forte accompaniments by Herbert J Ellis
    I found this booklet along with some others at a music museum that was closing down. It was published by John Alvey Turner and a price of 4'

    John Alvery Turner himself was a great supporter of the BMG (British Mandolin Banjo and Guitar Federation)and donated a couple of lovely trophies for the orchestral competitions which took place (and still do) at the Annual rally ... and I'm please to say that one of them currently sits on my mantle peice!
    Best wishes,
    ian


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    Default Re: Herbert J.Ellis -Thorough School for the Mandoline

    I also have a copy of Ellis' Thorough School for the Mandoline.
    It has 79 well used pages, and was used by my Grandfather at school in southern England.
    I'm wondering what to do with the book as I don't play.

    Suggestions would be welcome. I live in the midwest of the USA.

  9. #9
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Herbert J.Ellis -Thorough School for the Mandoline

    I am sure that someone would like it.
    Jim

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    Default Re: Herbert J.Ellis -Thorough School for the Mandoline

    Hi I'm not sure if I am in the right thread or even in the right place but I am trying to find information on the Luton mandolin band in or around the 1940's. Is anyone able to offer any help? Or even where I would look? The reason is my grandmother was in the band around that time. Many thanks

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    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Herbert J.Ellis -Thorough School for the Mandoline

    Hi Lisa,

    This isn't really the right thread -- the only connection to Luton is that the original poster (in 2004!) picked up the book being discussed in a junk shop in Luton.

    You may get more info by starting a new discussion thread. However, the most promising route is probably to contact the British BMG Federation (Link), who have quite a good archive of photographs etc of older UK mandolin bands/orchestras.

    Good luck!

    Martin

    Edit with more info: there are a few useful details on the Luton Mandolin Band in the book "The Classical Mandolin" by Paul Sparks. The book is highly recommended, but the relevant pages also show up on a Google Books search for "Luton Mandolin Band". Sparks says that "The finest orchestra that Britain produced was undoubtedly the Luton Mandolin Band, founded in 1890 by Philip J Bone (...). He amassed a group of talented and dedicated musicians and trained the Luton Band to the point where it could compete with the best European orchestras."

    However, the latest reference by Sparks to the Luton Band dates to a prize they won in Paris in 1912. By your grandmother's time in the band in the 1940s the band may have been quite different, although I note that Bone became president of the BMG Federation as late as 1951 (at age 78), so he may conceivably still have been the musical director in the 1940s. He was born in 1873, so only 17 when he started the band.

    By coincidence, somebody in the US is currently selling a private 1955 tape recording of the Luton Mandolin Band on Ebay (Link), so the band kept going until at least that time.
    Last edited by Martin Jonas; Apr-29-2014 at 6:07am.

  12. #12
    Michael Reichenbach
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    Default Re: Herbert J.Ellis -Thorough School for the Mandoline

    Some scans of my copy of Ellis' Thorough School for the Mandoline are available on my website on the following page:

    Ellis' Thorough School for the Mandoline
    Homepage: www.mandoisland.de / Blog: www.mandoisland.com / Freiburg / Germany

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