Letter: Putting the record straight on Wood

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The Independent Online
Sir: Being engaged in writing the biography of Sir Henry J. Wood, may I correct the report ('Into the Woods', 5 December) of the discovery at the Royal Academy of Music of some of his early recordings? These records, on which his first wife, Olga, sings to his piano accompaniment, were not 'left to the Academy in Wood's will' but were deposited there earlier.

They are not all of 1908, nor do they comprise only 'Victorian ballads', but include songs by Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky.

The song 'The Lotus Flower', in which Wood's own voice is heard, is not 'a sentimental ballad' but one of the treasures of German lieder (Schumann's 'Die Lotosblume').

Olga was indeed Russian but not a 'Russian princess', though so described in her husband's fanciful autobiography. 'Ourousoff' was not her own name but her mother's maiden name. On the record labels, as on her concert programmes, she was 'Mrs Henry J. Wood'.

Yours truly,

ARTHUR JACOBS

Oxford

6 December

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