Victor Silvester 

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Victor Silvester conducting his Ballroom Orchestra in 1938. Oscar Grasso is at left on violin.
Victor Silvester conducting his Ballroom Orchestra in 1938. Oscar Grasso is at left on violin.

Victor Marlborough Silvester OBE (25 February 1900[1] – 14 August 1978)[2] was an English dancer, author, musician and bandleader from the British dance band era. He was a significant figure in the development of ballroom dance during the first half of the 20th century, and his records sold 75 million copies from the 1930s through to the 1980s.[3][4][5]
ヴィクター・マールボロ・シルベスター OBE(1900年2月25日[1] – 1978年8月14日)[2]は、イギリスのダンスバンド時代のダンサー、作家、音楽家、バンドリーダーである。20世紀前半の社交ダンスの発展に大きく貢献し、彼のレコードは1930年代から1980年代にかけて7500万枚を売り上げた[3][4][5]。


Early life

Silvester was born the second son of a vicar in WembleyMiddlesex, England.[2] He was educated at Ardingly CollegeSt. John’s School, Leatherhead and John Lyon SchoolHarrow, from all of which he absconded.
シルヴェスターは、イギリス・ミドルセックス州ウェンブリーの牧師の次男として生まれた[2]。 アーディンリー・カレッジ、レザーヘッドのセント・ジョンズ・スクール、ハローのジョン・ライオン・スクールで教育を受けたが、いずれも無断で逃げている。

Silvester claimed that he enlisted in the British Army on 4 September 1916, during the First World War, serving as a private in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, and that he lied about his age to the recruiting authorities, stating this as 20 whereas he was only 16. He supposedly took part in the Battle of Arras in April/May 1917, and said he was a member of five execution squads, where deserters were shot.[6][7]

However, the release of his service records in 2000 revealed that he had been discharged from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders as underage on 12 September 1916, after just a week of service. However, he immediately joined the First Aid Services (i.e. the Red Cross and St John Ambulance), and served with them in France from 1 October 1916 to June 1917, before transferring to the First British Ambulance Unit For Italy. On 4 September 1917 at Sella di Dol near San Gabriele, while acting as a stretcher bearer to evacuate wounded Italian servicemen during a heavy bombardment by the Austrians and Germans, he was injured in the leg by a shell burst, but refused medical treatment until the other wounded had been attended to. For his gallantry on this occasion he was awarded the Italian Bronze Medal of Military Valour in a decree by the Italian Minister of War dated 30 November 1917. In a letter to Silvester’s parents dated 20 September 1917, his Commandant in the First British Ambulance Unit, the noted historian G. M. Trevelyan, wrote: “He is certainly one who will be deservedly loved wherever he goes in life, and he is besides made of sterling stuff.”[8]
しかし、2000年に公開された彼の従軍記録から、彼は1916年9月12日に未成年としてアーガイル・アンド・サザランド・ハイランダーを除隊し、わずか1週間の勤務で退役していたことが明らかになった。しかし、彼はすぐに救急隊(赤十字と聖ヨハネ救急車)に入り、1916年10月1日から1917年6月までフランスで勤務した後、イタリア行きの第一英国救急隊に移った。1917年9月4日、サン・ガブリエレ近くのセッラ・ディ・ドールで、オーストリア軍とドイツ軍による激しい砲撃の中、負傷したイタリア軍人を避難させる担架を担いでいたとき、砲撃により脚を負傷したが、他の負傷者の手当が終わるまで治療を拒否した。この時の勇敢な行動が評価され、1917年11月30日付のイタリア陸軍大臣令でイタリア銅メダル(Military Valour)を授与された。1917年9月20日付けのシルヴェスターの両親に宛てた手紙の中で、第一英国救急隊司令官で著名な歴史家のG・M・トレヴェリアンは、「彼は人生のどこへ行っても当然愛される人物であり、しかも彼は純良な性格です」と記している[8]。

After the war he studied at Worcester CollegeOxford for a year. He decided to resume a military career when he was offered a place at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, but he quickly decided it was not for him. He also studied music at Trinity College, London, having already had private piano lessons as a child.


Career in dance

His interests had meanwhile turned to dancing. He was one of the first post-war English dancers to feature the full natural turn in the slow waltz. This innovation was a factor in his winning the first World Ballroom Dancing Championship in 1922 with Phyllis Clarke as his partner.[2] He married Dorothy Newton a few days later.[9]
一方、彼の関心はダンスに移っていた。彼は戦後初めてスロー・ワルツのフル・ナチュラル・ターンを取り入れたイギリス人ダンサーの1人であった。この革新性は、1922年にフィリス・クラークをパートナーとして第1回世界社交ダンス選手権で優勝する要因となった[2]。 彼は数日後にドロシー・ニュートンと結婚した[9]。

He competed again in 1924, coming second to Maxwell Stewart – the inventor of the double reverse spin in the waltz – and Barbara Miles. He was a founding member of the Ballroom Committee of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing which codified the theory and practice of Ballroom Dance – now known as the International Style – and published the first book embodying the new standards in 1927. This was Modern Ballroom Dancing, which became a best-seller and has remained in print through many editions, the last issued in 2005.
1924年に再び出場し、ワルツのダブル・リバース・スピンを考案したマックスウェル・スチュワートとバーバラ・マイルズに次いで2位となった。彼は、社交ダンスの理論と実践を成文化した帝国舞踊教師協会(ISTD)のボールルーム委員会の創立メンバーであり、1927年に新しい基準を具体化した最初の本を出版した。この本 Modern Ballroom Dancing はベストセラーとなり、何度も版を重ね、最終版は2005年に発行された。

He went on to open a dancing academy in London, which eventually developed into a chain of 23 dance studios.[2] By the early 1930s, his teaching had become famous and he had taught some of the top celebrities of the day, among whom was Merle Oberon.[9] Silvester had his own BBC television show through the 1950s, called BBC Dancing Club,[2] and was later the President of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing.
1930年代初頭には、彼の指導は有名になり、マール・オベロンなど当時のトップクラスの有名人にも教えていた[9]。 シルベスターは1950年代を通じてBBC Dancing Clubという自身のテレビ番組を持ち[2]、後に帝国舞踊教師協会(ISTD)の会長に就任した。


Career in music

The lack of what he felt were adequate records for dancing led Silvester in 1935 to form his own five-piece band, later enlarged and named Victor Silvester and his Ballroom Orchestra, whose first record, “You’re Dancing on My Heart” (by Al Bryan and George M. Meyer), sold 17,000 copies and was to become his signature tune.[2] He insisted his recordings conform precisely to the beats per minute recommended by the ISTD for ballroom dances, a concept termed “strict tempo”. In British eyes he became indelibly associated with the catch-phrase “slow, slow, quick-quick-slow” – a rhythm that occurs in the foxtrot and quickstep.[2]
ダンス用の適切なレコードがないと感じたシルベスターは、1935年に5人編成のバンドを結成し、後に規模を拡大して「ビクター・シルベスター・アンド・ヒズ・ボールルーム・オーケストラ」と名付け、最初のレコード「ユーアー・ダンシング・オン・マイ・ハート」(アル・ブライアン&ジョージ・M・マイヤー)は17000枚を売り上げ、彼の代表曲となる。 彼は自身のレコードをISTDによってボールルームダンスの推奨する1分当たりの拍数に正確に準拠させることに固執したが、それは「厳格テンポ」と呼ばれている考え方だった[2]。イギリス人の目には「スロー、スロー、クイック、クイック、スロー」というキャッチフレーズ、つまりフォックストロットやクイックステップに登場するリズムとして忘れられないものになった[2]。

The Silvester band always had a distinctive sound, achieved by an unusual line-up including, as well as the usual rhythm section, alto saxophone (initially Charlie Spinelli and later, for 26 years, Edward Owen “Poggy” Pogson, who had previously played in Jack Payne‘s and Jack Hylton‘s bands), a lead solo violin (for many years usually Oscar Grasso), and two pianos, one taking turn in solos and the other maintaining an improvised tinkling continuo in the background throughout every piece, which Silvester called his “lemonade”. This piano sound is said to have been created for him by the pianist and later bandleader, and BBC radio star, Felix King.

He notes in his autobiography that his first two pianists in 1935 were Gerry Moore for the melody and Felix King for the “lemonade”. Later pianists included, at different times, Monia Liter (from 1940 to 1944),[10] Charlie Pude, Jack Phillips, Billy Munn, Victor Parker (also accordion), Ernest “Slim” Wilson (who was also Silvester’s main arranger, and with whom he co-wrote several pieces), Eddie Macauley and Ronnie Taylor. Silvester’s drummer for over four decades was Ben Edwards, crucial for supplying the strict tempo. Sometimes there might be four saxophones altogether, two alto and two tenor, including in latter years Tony Mozr, Percy Waterhouse and Phil Kirby in addition to Pogson, all doubling on clarinet as required. On some recordings, the Ballroom Orchestra was augmented with 15 strings and woodwind, when it became ‘The Silver Strings’. During the war, when Oscar Grasso was in the forces, the classical violinist Alfredo Campoli took his place, using the name ‘Alfred Campbell’ for contractual reasons.[9]

These were first-class players, some of whom (like Liter, Grasso and Pogson) were already noted in jazz or danceband circles before they joined Silvester’s band. Unlike most British dance bands of the era, there were no vocals. Silvester usually did not play (he was a violinist), but stood in front of his orchestra in white tie and tails, conducting with a flourish.

He continued to make music for half a century, mostly covering the popular music standards and show tunes, sometimes (but rarely) swingtrad jazz and in latter years, especially from 1971 when the orchestra continued under his son, Victor Silvester Jr, rock and rolldisco and pop. These later attempts to stay “with it” involved the introduction of an electric guitar, but it is mostly the more melodic recordings of the 1940s and 1950s that are now reissued on CD.



Silvester’s record sales were so high that competition was inevitable. Other dancers were attracted to the idea, and set up their own strict-tempo bands. Henry Jacques, Maxwell Stewart, Josephine Bradley and Wally Fryer were all top-flight dancers who set up in competition to Silvester. There were other bands led by musicians who were capable of recording in strict time. The best for ballroom competitions was probably Joe Loss, who had an even longer musical career than Silvester. Other bands that catered to ballroom dancing were Oscar Rabin and Jack Harris, whose band played in clubs and restaurants through the 1930s, Phil Tate, and Jack Parnell. For the post-war period of Latin dances to (mostly) Cuban and Brazilian rhythms, Edmundo Ros was in a class of his own.


Later life

By 1958, when he published his autobiography, he was the most successful dance band leader in British musical history, and a major star on British radio and television. His BBC Television show Dancing Club lasted 17 years.[2] He also presented a weekly request programme on the BBC Overseas Service (later World Service) which ran from 1948 to 1975.[11] His obituary in The Times noted, “Turn on a radio in Famagusta, Cape Town or Peking and one would be likely to hear his music issuing from the speakers”.[12]
自伝を出版した1958年までには、イギリスの音楽史上最も成功したダンスバンドのリーダーであり、イギリスのラジオやテレビの大スターであった[2]。BBCテレビの番組『ダンシング・クラブ』は17年間続いた[2]。 また、1948年から1975年までBBC Overseas Service(後のWorld Service)で毎週リクエスト番組を担当した[11]。『タイムズ』の彼の追悼記事には「ファマグスタ、ケープタウン、北京でラジオをつけてみれば、スピーカーから流れる彼の音楽を聞くことになるはずだ」と記されている[12]。

He was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1957 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews at the BBC Television Theatre.
1957年、BBCテレビ劇場でイーモン・アンドリュースに驚かれ、『This Is Your Life』の題材となった。

Victor Silvester was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1961. He died while on holiday in the south of France at the age of 78.[2] The orchestra remained in existence under his son’s direction until the 1990s.[2] Victor, his wife and son are memorialised at Golders Green Crematorium, London.
ヴィクター・シルヴェスターは、1961年に大英帝国勲章のオフィサーに任命された[2]。オーケストラは息子の指揮の下、1990年代まで存続した[2]。 ヴィクターとその妻、息子はロンドンのゴルダーズ・グリーン斎場に偲ばれている。

The Victor Silvester Archive – which includes his OBE and First World War medals and related original documents and correspondence, his many other accolades such as his four Carl Alan Awards for services to dancing and his BBC Radio Golden Microphone Award, the complete archive of programme sheets for his orchestra’s BBC broadcasts, platinum and silver discs for his orchestra’s record sales and the orchestra’s entire archive of original hand-scored strict tempo sheet music – was sold at auction in London in March 2000, and is now held in a private collection in Northern England


  • Victor Silvester, Modern Ballroom Dancing, London: Herbert Jenkins, 1927 – many editions (about 60 in his lifetime).[13] First edition included waltzfoxtrotquickstep and tango, plus mention of bluesone-stepblack bottom and paso doble. In the Second World War and after, there was some space given to such as sambarumba, “rhythm dance” (a way for beginners to get round the ballroom) and “quick waltz” (= Viennese waltz). Editions in the mid-1950s would have included the jive and cha-cha-cha. By 1977, the book included the full set of ten dances used in international competitions, plus rock n’ roll and disco dance (brief notes only). Recent edition: London: Ebury, 2005 edition, revised and augmented by Bryn Allen: ISBN 0-09-190509-5.
    ヴィクター・シルヴェスター『モダン・ボールルーム・ダンス』London: Herbert Jenkins, 1927 – 多くの版がある(生涯で約60版)[13] 初版ではワルツ、フォックストロット、クイックステップ、タンゴに加え、ブルース、ワンステップ、ブラックボトム、パソドブレについても言及されている。第二次世界大戦後は、サンバ、ルンバ、「リズムダンス」(初心者が社交界を回るための方法)、「クイックワルツ」(=ウィーン風ワルツ)などに若干のスペースが与えられるようになった。1950年代半ばの版では、ジャイブやチャチャチャも含まれていただろう。1977年には、国際大会で使用される10種類のダンス一式に加え、ロックンロールやディスコダンス(簡単な注釈のみ)も掲載された。最新版。ロンドン Ebury, 2005 edition, revised and augmented by Bryn Allen: ISBN 0-09-190509-5.
  • Victor Silvester, Theory and Technique of Ballroom Dancing. London: Herbert Jenkins, 1932; 2nd ed 1933 and other editions.
  • Victor Silvester (with foreword by Philip J. S. Richardson), The Art of the Ballroom. London: Herbert Jenkins, 1936.
  • Victor Silvester, Old Time Dancing. Herbert Jenkins, London. 1949 and later editions.
  • Victor Silvester, Dancing for the Millions: A concise guide to modern ballroom dancing. London: Odhams Press, 1949.
  • Victor Silvester Sequence Dancing. London: Herbert Jenkins, 1950, and later editions.
  • Victor Silvester, More Old Time Dances. London: Herbert Jenkins, 1951.
  • Victor Silvester, Modern Dancers’ Handbook. London: Herbert Jenkins, 1954.
  • Victor Silvester, c.1955. Victor Silvester’s Album.
  • Victor Silvester, Dancing Is My Life: The Autobiography of Victor Silvester. London: Heinemann, 1958.
  • Walter Whitman and Victor Silvester, The Complete Old Time Dancer. London: Herbert Jenkins, 1967.
  • Victor Silvester, Modern Ballroom Dancing: History and Practice. London: Barrie and Jenkins, 1977.
  • Victor Silvester, Old Time and Sequence Dancing. London: Barrie and Jenkins, 1980.

Also published were sheet music arrangements.