Novello, Ivor, 1893-1951

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1893-01-15
Death 1951-03-06
Britons
French, English

Biographical notes:

Ivor Novello (1893-1951) was born in Cardiff, Wales, to David Davies and Clare Novello Davies, a vocal teacher. Musically active as a child, he learned songs from his mother's many famous clients and showed an early talent for writing songs, having his first work published at age 15. He moved to London in 1913, and quickly became a favorite of Sir Edward Marsh, a well-known patron of the arts. He spent the first several years of his career working as a composer, but eventually added acting, both stage and film, to his repertoire. In the 1930s he composed and wrote a number of successful musicals, often partnering with Christopher Hassall. His work was immensely popular and his circle of friends included many famous film and stage actors, managers, and producers. Novello died at the age of 58.

From the description of Ivor Novello papers, 1911-1956. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 733998080

Ivor Novello (1893-1951) was born in Cardiff, Wales, to David Davies and Clare Novello Davies, a vocal teacher. Musically active as a child, he learned songs from his mother’s many famous clients and showed an early talent for writing songs, having his first work published at age 15. He moved to London in 1913, and quickly became a favorite of Sir Edward Marsh, a well-known patron of the arts. He spent the first several years of his career working as a composer, but eventually added acting, both stage and film, to his repertoire. In the 1930s he composed and wrote a number of successful musicals, often partnering with Christopher Hassall. His work was immensely popular and his circle of friends included many famous film and stage actors, managers, and producers. Novello died at the age of 58.

From the guide to the Ivor Novello papers, 1911-1956., (Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University)

David Ivor Davies, better known as Ivor Novello became one of Britain's most popular entertainers of the early 20th century. Having first achieved success as a songwriter, he went on to become a successful actor, playwright and composer.

Born in Cardiff in 1893 to Clara Novello Davies, an internationally known singer and choral conductor and David Davies, a tax collector. Having shown early musical promise, Novello won a scholarship to Magdalen College, Oxford, where he sang in the choir and began writing songs. His first song was published at the age of 15.

He moved to London in 1913 and took a flat above the Strand Theatre, which was to be his home for the rest of his life. The following year Novello wrote Keep the Home Fires Burning, a song which became a huge success, being particularly poignant in a time of war. From here he started to write lyrics and scores for musical comedies and revues.

Fame soon followed after the war, and Novello began a career as an actor. His first lead role was in the 1919 silent movie The Call of the Blood . He was to star in many more silent films, and eventually moved on to have success in 'talkies'. With his classic profile he gained matinee idol status amongst the film-going public and scored successes with films such as The Lodger, Downhill, The Vortex and A South Sea Bubble, his last silent movie. During his film career he worked with such luminaries as D.W. Griffith and Alfred Hitchcock.

Novello made his stage debut in 1921 with Deburau at London's Ambassadors Theatre. His theatrical career saw him composing as well as writing for a variety of stage productions. In 1924 he wrote his first play, a collaboration with actor Constance Collier titled The Rat (later made into a movie, as well as inspiring two sequels). He starred in the play and the film adaptation that followed. Clearly fond of appearing in his own productions, he also wrote and starred in, amongst others; Symphony in Two Flats (1929), Proscenium (1933) and Glamorous Night (1935), the first of several Novello-penned plays which were staged at the Drury Lane Theatre, London.

In 1949, and only hours after finishing a performance of King's Rhapsody, Novello died suddenly from a coronary thrombosis. He was 58. Having dominated British music theatre in the 1930s and 1940s, Novello left behind a vast legacy of film performances, plays and musical works. His Maidenhead home later became the Redroofs Theatre School and since the 1950s the annual Ivor Novello Awards have honoured the best of British musical songwriting talent.

From the guide to the Ivor Novello Stage and Film Collection, 1910s-1951, (V&A Department of Theatre and Performance)

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Subjects:

  • Musicals
  • Revues
  • Composers--Great Britain
  • Estate planning
  • Musicals--Scores and parts
  • Actors--Great Britain
  • Theater--20th century
  • Musical theatre--Great Britain--History--20th century
  • Copyright--Royalties
  • Orchestral music, Arranged--Scores and parts

Occupations:

not available for this record

Places:

  • Great Britain (as recorded)
  • England--London (as recorded)