Lost songs by 'The Dam Busters' composer Eric Coates discovered


Three songs composed by the creator of The Dam Busters theme tune are to be heard for the first time next month in the town of his birth after they were given away by a woman from Devon.

The pieces, written by Eric Coates, were given to a society dedicated to the composer, from Hucknall, Nottinghamshire, by a woman who inherited them from her mother.

The hand-written songs were penned by a young Coates before he went to study at the Royal Academy of Music in London at the age of 20.

They will be performed at a concert organised by the Eric Coates Society in Hucknall on 6 October.

The first piece, called "Love's Philosophy", is dated 26 August 1906, the day before his 20th birthday, while the second very short song is called "To A Maiden". Both are dedicated to a Sybil Walsh and signed "To Sybil with love from Eric."

A note on the sheet of the third song, called "Tit For Tat", said it was "composed expressly for and dedicated to Celia Welsh on September 14th 1906". On the red-ink stained cover, a note says "to dear little Celia with best love from Eric April 11 1907".

Peter Butler, secretary of the society, set up to promote the composer's music and history, said: "I received an offer from a lady in Devon called Ann Parsons who had some music written by Eric Coates and enquired if we as a society could find them a good home.

"Naturally I accepted the offer not knowing quite what to expect, other than three pieces which Ann said were genuine original hand-written songs. When they arrived at our chairman Geoff Sheldon's house he rang in great excitement to say that they were indeed originals."

The Performing Rights Society has confirmed the pieces have never been published or played in public.

Coates, who was born in Hucknall in August 1886, composed a huge range of popular music including orchestral works and songs before his death in 1957. Halcyon Days was used as the theme to 1967 BBC TV series The Forsyte Saga while By The Sleepy Lagoon, which he composed in 1930, is still used today to introduce the long-running BBC Radio 4 programme Desert Island Discs.