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Brighton Music Festival

The Music Room at the Royal Pavilion
Royal Pavilion and Museums Brighton and Hove

Given an old piano

When I was ten or eleven years old, I developed an interest in classical music. I asked my mother if I could have piano lessons; she agreed and I was soon being taught by Madame Rose Dudeney, at her house in Florence Road. At the time I was intrigued by why my piano teacher was called ‘Madame Rose’. Luckily enough, a friend of my mother gave us an old, upright piano; I can still remember how fascinated I was to watch a blind piano tuner at work.

Competition classes

I learned fairly quickly and Madame Rose enrolled me in competition classes for the Brighton Music Festival. On the stage of The Dome, I played Beethoven’s Fur Elise, unfortunately to no great reception. But in the Music Room at the Royal Pavilion, I did much better. I played a piece by Grieg and won the class. I do remember that it was a magical moment in a magical place. 

Syncopating the hymns

The headmaster at Fawcett School learned that I had won this prize, and so I was asked, to play the winning piece for the school assembly. This was very flattering and I quite enjoyed it. After that, I was asked to join the teacher who played the piano for the assembly, to play the various hymns, with him, at subsequent assemblies. At that time I was also teaching myself blues piano; the hymn playing did not go well as I tended to syncopate the hymns. Unfortunately, family circumstances changed and my mother could no longer afford to book me for more lessons with Madame Rose. I continued to work on my blues and jazz music and still do, more than 50 years later. 


Comments about this page

  • When I was about 5, my Dad bought me an old Chapel upright piano. This had two brass candlesticks mounted on a fretwork front panel with a piece of red material behind it – very Victorian! Dad made a new front panel and the candlesticks vanished. I was bought an Ezra Read Tutor and lessons were arranged with a gentleman from Preston Village (no names, no pack drill). He did not last long and I was enrolled to have weekly lessons with a Miss Pinder who lived on one of the old cottages at the North end of Greenfield Road and adjoining Braybon Avenue in Patcham. Does anyone recall this very Victorian lady who illustrated my tutor book with elves and faeries climbing up the treble and bass staves? Happy days.

    By John Snelling (25/10/2019)

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