I was pleased to receive a copy of an audio cassette containing recordings of a young lady playing the Classic Style banjo. Her name is Brenda Auden and in the early 1950’s, at the age 13, she had won several UK banjo competitions. She had also played several times on the BBC radio’s Children’s Hour  programmes.

From 1922 – 1962, here in the United Kingdom, Children's Hour was broadcast from 5 pm to 6 pm every day of the week. It was the time of day during the week when children could be expected to be home from school, and was aimed at an audience aged from about 5 to 15 years. Don’t forget, there was no TV nor Internet then!

Children's Hourwas often criticised, like "Auntie" BBC itself, for paternalism and middle-class values.

 

I had never heard of Brenda Auden and cannot find much about her, except that there was an article about her in the August 1952 edition of the BMG…  anyone got a copy or know more about her??

 

She also, along with her father Fred Auden, played in the Orrell Mandoliers.  (Orrell is a town in the NW of England) 

  

Brenda is shown with the banjo on the back row and her father (wearing spectacles) on the LHS of the middle row.

 

I have included a couple of snippets recorded from here performances on Children’s hourin the early 1950’s. The sound quality if awful but, goodness me, can she play!

 

The first clip is Syncopated Sunbeams by Ernest Taylor, and what a great tune it is too!  I have added the score for SyncopatedSunbeams to the MUSIC LIBRARY and it is a must play!

SYNCOPATED SUNBEAMS

The next clip is Radio Jig, which, apparently, is the BBC announcer’s favourite tune  :-)

RADIO JIG

ENJOY!

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I'm with the announcer. Radio Jig is fan-tabulous.

Nice piece of history!, Ian.

This is brilliant... just the kind of research I like. When you trace a mere name to pictures, newspaper cuttings, recordings... it comes to life.

Well, I believe Brenda to be alive and well and living somewhere in the North West. Rumour has it that she has no interest in playing the banjo any more.

I haven't heard from Brenda for some years, but the last time she wrote to me c.mid 1990s, she told me that she hadn't played the banjo for a long time. I have a few pieces of her music, which judging by the condition, must have never been out of her hands; I remember Brenda playing on some television show in the 1960s, and it is a pity that she retired from playing the instrument, seemingly, when she got married. She was, as A. P. Sharpe remarked at the time, 'no ordinary player'. I will see if I can locate her correspondence and anything else which might be lurking in the attic relating to her.

I also have some tape recordings of Brenda Auden taken from the BBC radio shows and some music scores, one piece of music being Joe Morley's A Banjo Frolic and if my memory serves me well, written across the top is 'contest number 14 The G A Keeler Cup'.  but alas, they are currently in storage with the rest of my banjo memorabilia.

I came across this discussion through a link I received from David Percy whose father was Ted Percy banjoist and leader of his own orchestra. David Percy came across photos, a scrap book and other memorabilia of his father's and was put in touch with me by Vera Ward of Leigh-on-Sea BMG Orchestra. David and I corresponded recently by email and he recalled lots of interesting details from his father's playing days, including the fact that Brenda Auden and her family stayed with the Percy family in the mid-1950s while Brenda was given banjo tuition from Ted to prepare her for a BMG exam he believes. David sold Ted Percy's Weaver banjo to a BMG Federation member last year. Ted Percy's story part 1 was published in the spring BMG Federation newsletter and part 2 will be in the summer issue. Like Mike Moss in his reply above, I love discovering all these bits of history.

 would love to get more of her biography and recordings. She would be a perfect example for one of my podcasts on the Classic Banjo Resource site.  Richard, do you think you can keep me up to date with what you may find about her?

As an aside, has anyone listened to Robert L. Webb's recording on my Podcast?

Is 'Radio Jig' a TBjr composition? Sounds like one to me. Cool stuff, indeed.

Paugh...I guess I could have looked before I commented. Joe Morley...

You mean to tell me that someone in the 1950s was not playing "folk" "old time" or 'Bluegrass" banjo!!!  No-- it can't be true.  I've read the history of the banjo in the Earl Scruggs book.

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