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Eric Coates and Orchestra

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Respectfully known as the "king of light music,"Eric Coates was one of England's greatest composers. A prolific writer, Coates wrote pieces for orchestras, chamber groups, and solo pianists. In addition to penning more than 160 ballads, he composed numerous instrumental settings for the poetry of William Shakespeare and other British poets. His many radio themes included the theme of the popular BBC radio show Calling All Workers, which aired four times a day, five days a week. Coates made his orchestral debut in 1911 when his composition "Miniature Suite" was performed by the Queen's Hall Light Orchestra under the direction of Sir Henry Wood. Coates played viola with the orchestra during the premiere. Although he wrote his most enduring tune, "Stonecracker John," in 1909, Coates enjoyed a revival of his popularity in the late '20s when his songs "Birdsongs at Eventide" and "Homeward to You" became major hits. He remained active until shortly before his death in 1957, composing "The Dam Busters March" and "High Flight" for popular early-'50s films. Coates' long career is recalled in an autobiography, Suite in Four Movements, and a biography, In Town Tonight, written by Geoffrey Self. ~ Craig Harris

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