The 30 April 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the death of the baritone, opera producer, composer and folk song collector, Clive Carey (1883-1968).
Francis Clive Savill Carey, known throughout his life as Clive Carey, was born on 30 May 1883 at Sible Hedingham in Essex. He attended King’s College choir school, Cambridge, and in September 1897 joined Sherborne School (School House) as a Scholar. Clive remained at Sherborne until April 1901, during which time he became a School Prefect (1900), won the Upper School Latin Verse Prize (1898), the School Greek Verse Prize (1899), the House Glee Cup (1901), played for the 2nd XV, and was a member of the Debating Society. Clive’s musical ability was clearly appreciated by all at Sherborne School. When he returned for the Commem concert in June 1901, his performance of a piano solo of Schumann’s Etudes Symphoniques Op. 13 No 12 ‘convinced us that we have no performer of anything like equal merit still in the School.’
Clive went on to Clare College, Cambridge where he studied as an Organ Scholar. During this time he met Edward J. Dent and in 1907 produced and performed in Dent’s English translation of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. He also gave singing lessons to Rupert Brooke.
Clive, however, maintained his links with Sherborne and in 1905 composed jointly with Louis Napoleon Parker and Archibald Frank Tester the choral score for the Sherborne Pageant. Clive also wrote the scores for two of the School songs: ‘Fons Limpidus’ (words by James Rhoades) and ‘Alma Mater’ (words by Frederick Brooke Westcott).
As Grove Scholar at the Royal College of Music, Clive studied composition under Sir Charles Villliers Stanford and singing under James H. Ley. In June 1907, he made his London debut at the Aeolian Hall, when The Times noted that he had ‘a baritone of wide compass and attractive quality.’
The early 20th century saw a revival of interest in English folk songs and dances, credited largely to the work of Cecil Sharp. It was Cecil Sharp’s friendship with the Rev. Charles Marson, the father of John Charles Marson (1896-1915) who attended Sherborne School 1910-1913, that led to their search for folk songs in Somerset. Clive also began collecting folk songs and dances in Sussex, Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire. He met the suffragette, social reformer, and morris dance revivalist Mary Neal, and from 1910 to 1914 was Musical Director for her Espérance Morris Guild, contributing in 1912 to the Espérance Morris Book part 2, and in 1915 publishing Ten English Folk Songs.
During the First World War, Clive served as a Major with the Royal Army Ordnance Department. In 1920, he joined Lilian Baylis’s Old Vic opera company, directing operas and performing (in 1920 he took the title role in Don Giovanni). From 1924 to 1928, Clive held the post of Professor of Singing at the Elder Conservatorium of Music in Adelaide, Australia where amongst his pupils he taught Nellie Melba. Here he met Doris Johnson, whom in married in 1929. Returning to England, Clive taught at the Royal College of Music and directed operas for Lilian Baylis at Sadler’s Wells.
Throughout his life, Clive returned frequently to perform in concerts at Sherborne School. In 1903, he performed Gounod’s ‘Nazareth’ and also sang the parts of Manoah and Harapha in Handel’s Samson. In 1904 and again in 1910, he sang a solo in the first part of Mendelssohn’s oratorio St Paul, when it was agreed that ‘it gave everybody great pleasure to hear Mr F.C.S. Carey again, and he was in very good voice; indeed it would not be going too far if we said that he has never sung better, at least in Sherborne. He sang air No.12 ‘Consume them all, Lord Sabaoth’ magnificently; and aria No.18 ‘O God, have mercy upon me’ with exquisite expression and pathos.’ At the Musical Society’s Christmas concert in 1904, Clive sang ‘Restless River’ ‘quite in the grand style, and this with the Carmen completed a striking concert, which must have convinced the numerous OSS that in the music of the School, as in its football, there is at present [to quote Milton] ‘no weakness, no contempt, dispraise or blame, nothing but well and fair’.’
In December 1909, Clive returned to Sherborne and sang three sea chanteys (‘Away, Rio’, ‘Polly Brown’ & ‘The Albert Docks’) at the Musical Society concert, described as ‘three jolly rollicking songs, magnificently sung to a superb accompaniment’, which were followed by three School songs of which Clive conducted his own composition of ‘Alma Mater’.
At the Musical Society’s Christmas concert in 1911, Clive sang the solo and chorus from Coleridge-Taylor’s A Tale of Old Japan, followed by some gipsy songs (‘I Chant my Lay’, ‘Songs my Mother Taught me’ & ‘Cloudy Heights of Tatra’). At the Easter concert in April 1912, he returned to Sherborne with the Cambridge Quartett (Mrs W.M. Fletcher, Florence Dymock & James Steuart Wilson) and reprised A Tale of Old Japan. In February 1913, Clive gave a lecture in the Big Schoolroom on folk songs, which he interspersed with sung examples of the songs.
After the First World War, Clive returned to Sherborne in 1921 to sing at the Musical Society’s Easter concert. He returned again the following November with the English Singers (Flora Mann, Winifred Whelen, Lillian Berger, James Steuart Wilson and Cuthbert Kelly) to perform a concert of Elizabethan madrigals in the Big Schoolroom, when ‘the singers, seated round a table instead of singing before a row of music stands, managed to give the required touch of intimacy to the whole thing and to minimise the ‘concert hall feeling’ so fatal to this exalted but homely music.’ Clive was back again for the Christmas concert in 1921, singing a solo from Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and ‘Say Goodbye to your Pastime’ from Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, with three additional songs as encores. In 1923, he returned with the English Singers for a concert that was described as ‘an evening to be remembered’. The programme consisted of ballets and madrigals, duets and trios, folk songs and Italian street cries.
On 8 October 1949, Clive gave what would be his last performance at Sherborne School. The concert, which was given in aid of the Bishop’s Appeal Fund, included performances by Miss Violet Barnett at the piano and Miss Shelia Dunbar on the cello. Clive sang a selection of Spanish, Flemish, Irish and Canadian folk songs, followed by some old favourites (‘John Barleycorn’, ‘The Derby Ram’ and ‘The Frog and Mouse’). It was agreed that ‘Clive Carey’s charm lies in his deep sympathy with the songs he sings, which he manages, by some musical alchemy, to impart to his audience, and in his utter lack of artificiality or virtuosity.’
From 1946 to 1953, Clive was Director of the opera school at the Royal College of Music where, amongst his pupils, he taught Joan Sutherland. In 1955, Clive was appointed CBE and the following year he was invited to become President of the Old Shirburnian Society, but
declined the honour.
Clive Carey died at his home at 85 St Mark’s Road, Kensington, London on 30 April 1968. His wife Doris survived him by only a few weeks. They had no children. However, Clive’s nephew, Hugh Carey, attended Sherborne School (Abbey House) from 1936 to 1941, and in 1979 published a series of letters written to Clive by Edward J. Dent under the title Duet for Two Voices (Cambridge University Press, 1979).
For further information:
Biographical information about Clive Carey, Wikipedia.
Portrait of Clive Carey by Clara Ewald (c.1910), Royal College of Music.
Clive Carey Manuscript Collection, 1911-1949, English Folk Dance and Song Society, Vaughan Williams Memorial Library.
Correspondence and papers, 1902-1965, King’s College Archive Centre, Cambridge University.
Letters from Clive Carey to Edward Dent, 1904-1905, King’s College Archive Centre, Cambridge University.
Letters from Clive Carey to Edward Dent, 1914-1919, Department of Archives and Modern Manuscripts, Cambridge University Library.
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Posted 26 April 2018 by Sherborne School Archives.