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The sound of Firth restored to former glory

The work of Paul Andrews at Brass Toff and the playing talent of Mark Wilkinson has helped recall memories of the sound of the great Foden's cornet player Edwin Firth.

Mark Wilkinson
  Mark Wilkinson performed on Edwin Firth's cornet at the special concerts

Foden's recently celebrated the life of their great solo cornet Edwin Firth at a series of special commemorative events in the villages of Elworth and Sandbach.

Firth was regarded as the finest cornet player of his generation, helping the band to win the National Championships in 1910 and the British Open on no less than five occasions between 1909 and 1915.

He was killed in action in France in June 1918 aged 29.

Priceless artefacts

For the events Foden's were able to track down a great deal of his priceless memorabilia thanks to Edwin's grandson, Martyn Firth, including three of his instruments.

These were entrusted to Paul Andrews of BrassToff who set about restoring them to their former glory — including a keyed bugle dating to 1825 and a rare two valve trumpet, which the player bought in 1908 as a curiosity but went on to play in many performances he gave of 'The Trumpet Shall Sound' from 'The Messiah'.

Performed on

His wonderful Boosey & Co 'Class A' cornet, which was originally a gift given to his father by the Skipton Band in 1902, was also overhauled, enabling it to be played by current Foden's principal cornet Mark Wilkinson at the special commemorative concerts.

Mark performed the solo 'Goodbye' arranged over 100 years ago by J Ord Hume, on it (above) — ensuring that a musical connection to his illustrious predecessor was revived in the most intimate manner.

We would like to thank Allan Littlemore and Foden's for entrusting such historic instruments with Brass Toff. It was an honour to restore them for the bandPaul Andrews

Brilliance

Former Foden's Band Manager Allan Littlemore told 4BR: "We could only safely entrust them to the care and craftsmanship of Paul to whom I'm indebted. These are priceless artefacts of Foden's rich history and deserve to be restored in a manner that befits Edwin's brilliance."

In response Paul told 4BR: "We would like to thank Allan Littlemore and Foden's for entrusting such historic instruments with Brass Toff. It was an honour to restore them for the band."

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Howard J Evans

MA (Dist), Mus.B (hons), ARCM (hons), LRAM, LTCL, PGCE
Conductor, composer, arranger, tutor and pianist