David Ivor Davies
(15 January 1893 – 6 March 1951), better known as Ivor Novello
, was a Welsh composer
, who became one of the most popular British entertainers of the early 20th century.
Novello was born at Llwyn-yr-Eos (Grove of the Nightingale), Cowbridge Road East
, to the well-known singer and teacher, Clara Novello Davies
, and David Davies, a tax collector. A blue plaque
commemorating his birth can be seen on the side of the house. He attended Magdalen College School, Oxford
, for some time.
Novello first became known as a result of the song, "Keep the Home Fires Burning
", which he composed during World War I
. His 1917 show, Theodore & Co
was a wartime hit. Novello wrote his musicals in the style of operetta
and was one of the last major composers in this form. He generally composed his music to the librettos
of Christopher Hassall
After the World War I, Novello pursued a film career until the 1930s. He starred in two silent films directed by Alfred Hitchcock, The Lodger and Downhill, both in 1927.
On stage, he occasionally played dramatic roles, such as the title character in the first London production of Ferenc Molnar's Liliom (1926). He also appeared on in West End musicals of his own devising; the best known of these was The Dancing Years (1939). Novello later went to Hollywood and appeared in numerous successful films, but the stage remained his first love and the medium for his major successes.
In 1933, Novello coaxed the actress Zena Dare out of semi-retirement, and thereafter until his death, he often performed with, and wrote parts for her in his works. At the end of his career, he produced some of his most successful musicals, including Perchance to Dream (1945), King's Rhapsody (1949) and Gay's the Word (1951).
Novello was homosexual
, well known for some of his more glamorous gay affairs. For 35 years, he was the lover of the British actor Bobbie Andrews
, and he had an affair with the British poet and writer Siegfried Sassoon
. For many years, he lived at Littlewick Green
in East Berkshire
During World War II, Novello was sentenced to eight weeks in prison (he served four) for misuse of petrol coupons, a serious offence in wartime Britain. Serving a sentence alongside him was Frankie Fraser. After his release, he continued to appear on stage and write shows until the day before his death.
Novello died suddenly from a coronary thrombosis at age 58. He was cremated at the Golders Green Crematorium.
The Ivor Novello Awards
for songwriting are awarded each year by the record industry to songwriters and arrangers as well as the performing artistes.
Novello was portrayed in Robert Altman's 2001 film, Gosford Park by Jeremy Northam, and several of his songs were used for the film's soundtrack.
His memory continues to be promoted by The Ivor Novello Appreciation Bureau, who hold annual events around Britain, including an annual pilgrimage to Redroofs in Littlewick Green in June.
In 2005, the Strand Theatre in London, above which Novello lived for many years, was renamed the Novello Theatre.
- "Keep the Home Fires Burning" - John McCormack
- "Fold Your Wings"
- "Shine Through my Dreams"
- "Rose of England"
- "I Can Give you the Starlight"
- "My Dearest Dear"
- "When I Curtsied to the King"
- "We'll Gather Lilacs"
- "Someday my Heart will Awake"
- "Waltz of my Heart"
- "My Life Belongs To You"
- The Call of the Blood (L'Appel du Sang) - 1919
- Miarka: The Daughter of the Bear (Miarka, Fille de L'Ourse) - 1920
- Carnival - 1922
- The Bohemian Girl - 1922
- The Man Without Desire - 1923
- The White Rose - 1923
- Bonnie Prince Charlie - 1923
- The Rat - 1925
- The Triumph of the Rat - 1926
- The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog - (1927)
- Downhill - 1927
- The Vortex - 1928
- The Constant Nymph - 1928
- The Gallant Hussar - 1928
- The South Sea Bubble - 1928
- The Return of the Rat - 1928
- Symphony in Two Flats - 1930
- Once a Lady - 1931
- The Phantom Fiend - 1932
- Tarzan the Ape Man - 1932 (dialogue only)
- I Lived With You - 1933
- Sleeping Car - 1933
- Autumn Crocus - 1934