|Ronald Murgatroyd sings Passing by|
The following extract, from a letter I sent to the producer of a once well-established record label, contains all I have discovered on Murgatroyd, to date:
Recently rehearing your album containing “Passing by” by Ronald Murgatroyd, I am collecting any information about him. Ruth Edge (EMI Archives) says that a shellac by Murgatroyd, no. DB1456 is in her 1935 catalogue but not in @1938; she has no artist file whatsoever.
Larry Lustig (The Record Collector) says he has, through your album, been fascinated about this track for years; DB1456 offers 2 songs in which Murgatroyd does not come up to expectations; if I learn anything more he would like to know!
’Gramophone’ is yet to print my letter requesting information.
I judge that “Passing by” is a test record for Columbia c1934-5? A collector-friend of mine thinks (though he cannot recall why) that “Celeste Aida” was on the reverse. Only recently I tracked down DB1456 (“In your arms tonight” / “Love, forever I adore you”) and have decided I disagree with Larry. Whilst the contents are semi-dance songs (as Arthur Tracey or Sam Brown might sing) and the accompaniment is like a tea dance group - I wonder if it is Alfredo Campoli's band - the performances are very intelligently done, with that elegant ease & timbre shown in “Passing by”. My friend suggests that something drastic occurred that took Murgatroyd off the scene, fundamentally as he presents as such a polished artist.
Please will you tell me all you know about your record, which I guess remains in your collection or your contacts’. I shall be extremely grateful as his voice & technical accomplishment are fascinating, and I may be courageous enough to write a short piece about Murgatroyd's recordings to submit to ‘Gramophone’ or ‘CRC’. I thought of attempting to trace his name, maybe with Somerset House; he must have been born c1900-10?
I have received comment, through Emma Roach at ‘Gramophone’, from Michael Scott and John Steane; neither can add information. Emma also provided me with a copy of the only 'Gramophone' reference (December 1934) reviewing DB1456. I have written (three times) to the record producer, but to date have only the pleasure of receiving his current catalogues(!). There is a reference to Murgatroyd on a website devoted to “Rob Wilton Theatricalia”, which shows an appearance:
1946 (Apr 6): HIAWATHA'S WEDDING FEAST and MERRIE ENGLAND (Mechanics' Institute, Otley) Olga Wakefield (soprano), Elsie Lawson (contralto), Ronald Murgatroyd (tenor), Arthur Waite (bass), cond:Sydney W.Parsons
Does anyone know more?
Keith A Shilcock, December 2003.