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The Wizard and The Typhoon to be celebrated

The remarkable lives and great music of two great County Durham brass band composers — George Allan and Thomas E Bulch is to be celebrated next month.

  The music and lives of George Allan and Thomas Baulch will be celebrated

A concert featuring music by two of the UKs greatest exponents of the march idiom is to be held in County Durham next month.

Entitled, 'The Friends of The Wizard and The Typhoon' it will see Felling Band perform works by George Allan and Thomas Edward Bulch — two men born two streets and less than two years apart in the north east village of New Shildon.


Bulch (1862-1930) and Allan (1864-1930) were schooled together, and learned the art of making brass music together under the guidance of Bulch's uncle and grandfather.

As young men, after working together as blacksmiths at the local North Eastern Railway wagon works, destiny led them in separate directions.

Allan remained at home and became renowned for marches such as 'Knight Templar', 'Senator' and 'The Wizard', whilst Bulch, emigrated to Australia in 1884, becoming a significant composer (writing over 35 marches, air-varies, waltzes and overtures), conductor and adjudicator.


Dave Reynolds, who has undertaken research into both remarkable men, told 4BR: "Despite being categorised as a gifted amateur during his lifetime, George Allan was in retrospect a wonderful musician — something that is shown by the fact that his marches are still played extensively to this day."

He added: "Baulch may be less well known in the UK, but his contribution to the fledgling Australian and New Zealand brass movements cannot be over-estimated.

Armed with an armful of compositions written in England, including the march 'The Typhoon' as a 17 year old, he quickly earned the respect of the community and banding fraternity.

Baulch helped the bands raise their standards, and co-established an Australian brass journal. He was proprietor of a music shop and worked for a number of music publishing houses in Victoria.

Ironically his best known but most often misunderstood contribution to Australian culture is through a song created by someone else.

Bulch penned a tune he called 'Craigielee' which was later overheard at Warnambool Races by music hall artist Christina Macpherson, who played it from memory to 'Banjo' Patterson who then used it to accompany his lyrics for 'Waltzing Matilda'."

A pair of lads, born a couple of streets apart, around the same time, taught together in the same band, working briefly together; seemingly on parallel journeys and with similar goals but very different plans to achieve themDave Reynolds

Over a century

Dave revealed that the concert will feature 'Craigielee', so listeners will be able to hear that similarity for themselves, as well as 'The Wizard' and 'The Typhoon' along with selected other pieces by the pair, some of which were recently retrieved from archives that may not have seen them being played for well over a century.

He added: "It's remarkable. A pair of lads, born a couple of streets apart, around the same time, taught together in the same band, working briefly together; seemingly on parallel journeys and with similar goals but very different plans to achieve them.

Overall it's a tale of triumph, adventure and heartbreaking tragedy punctuated with coincidences right through to their deaths in 1930. What we have to tell is a fantastic story of two men showing that there are different ways to achieve great things despite being of humble origin."

We're thrilled to bits that Felling Band have stepped up, and offered their time to help us breathe new life into this rediscovery, and tremendously appreciative that this concert will part of the fantastic brass concert series in the Exhibition Hall at Ushaw College."

Concert details:

The Friends of The Wizard and The Typhoon
The music of George Allan and Thomas E. Bulch
Felling Band
Saturday August 4th
Ushaw College
County Durham


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Alan Duguid

BA (Hons), PGDipMus, PGCE
Conductor, Composer, Adjudicator (ABBA)