- William F. Cook, MVO, Captain, RAN (Rtd)
- Biographies and personal histories, Book reviews
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- September 2001 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Title: Memoirs Mostly Musical Author: Cedric Ashton Publisher: self-published
The reviewer found it most difficult to be objective in his assessment of this book, but to one who is fond of music and has lived through the exciting times of the late 30s when Sydney, and Australia, were emerging from a cultural wilderness and enjoying a feast of good music, then it is informative, entertaining and a good read! The well-remembered names of world-renowned conductors and reference to Colonel de Basil’s ballet company evoke fond memories of exciting nights – and matinees – at the old Theatre Royal, and great programmes on the ABC. Klemperer, Malcolm Sargent, Barbirolli, Beecham, Antal Dorati and the premier danseur, Serge Lifar and others are all subjects of amusing “behind the scenes” incidents which give readers a rare insight into their characters and modus operandi.
Music of course, is woven into all Ashton’s themes, for music has been a basic ingredient in the author’s whole life. Playing numerous instruments, teaching, conducting and organising, he exhibited his love of his subject in many facets of the art, and repaid in many generous ways for the lifelong enjoyment which it gave him. Members of the Society will enjoy the chapter “Navy Years”, the five years which the author spent as a bandsman in the RAN. Living like an admiral for two weeks in the Admiral’s cabin in the flagship sounds like a fantasy in the dreams of every sailor! Read how a bandsman managed it.
The author’s experiences are inspirational.