A new exhibition opens at Sewerby Hall and Gardens on Saturday, 24 March : ‘Musical Memories – The World of Herman Darewski’ will take visitors back to the Bridlington of the 1920s and 1930s.
Herman Darewski’s band delighted the crowds at Bridlington Spa in that era, keeping holidaymakers out until after midnight, much to the annoyance of the landladies in the town.
The new exhibition runs until 3 June and explores Darewski’s fascinating life, which included composing for West End theatre, conducting orchestras at seaside resorts, and running a music shop in London’s Charing Cross Road.
It draws on the research and collection of Darewski enthusiast Mike Wilson, the collection of East Riding Museums Service, Darewski’s 1937 autobiography ‘Musical Memories’ and material from Bridlington Local Studies Library.
Born in 1883 in Minsk, Darewski moved to London with his family and studied music in Vienna. In 1900, he became a composer with a company of music publishers in London, until he established his own business in 1916 - The Herman Darewski Music Publishing Company, in Charing Cross Road.
He was one of the first British composers to write and promote music for the new theatrical form of ‘revue’, and wrote the music for the popular World War One play “The Better ‘Ole”, which opened in 1917 and ran for 800 performances, as well as music for another First World War composition, “Sister Susie’s Sewing Shirts for Soldiers”.
After the War, Darewski became a conductor of light music in London and various seaside resorts. In 1924, he took up a 17-week engagement as musical director at Bridlington Spa, which at the time was run by Bridlington Corporation. His first season was a financial success.
He recalled that initially “concerts at the Spa finished at 9.30 every evening, which seemed an absurd hour for the people to be sent home.”
He launched the Darewski Dances in 1925, which were a huge success, so much so that a large dancefloor was included in the rebuild of the Spa in 1926.
However, in that year, he signed up to a new contract in Blackpool for four years, and left Bridlington. After that, he returned to London, but came back to Bridlington for another six years, until 1939.
In 1933, the Spa was devastated by fire but quickly rebuilt, prompting him to write that it had become “the finest dance and concert hall on the coast.”
There is a Blue Plaque on the external wall of Bridlington Spa to commemorate the life of Darewski.
Janice Smith, curator at Sewerby Hall and Gardens, said : “Creating this exhibition with colleagues in various teams has been a fascinating insight into Herman’s life, and his importance to Bridlington. I hope that visitors will enjoy learning all about his huge contribution to music, and to the social history of Bridlington.
“Some of our visitors may even have memories of the legendary Darewski Dances at the Spa!”
From Saturday 24 March, the house will be open daily from 11am- 4.30pm, and admission to the house and gardens will cost £8.00 for adults (reduced to £7.50 in term time) ; £5.90 for children aged 3-15 (reduced to £5.40 in term time); £26 for a family pass (or £24 in term time). Two-day passes are also available.
Full details of the exhibition, the house, the Gardens, zoo, events, and the Clock Tower Café can be found atwww.sewerbyhall.co.uk