2018 will see Foden's Band celebrate the 100th anniversary of the death of one of the greatest cornet players in banding history.
Edwin Firth was born at Skipton on 23rd December 1888. His grandfather, Greenwood Firth had been solo trombone with Black Dyke for twenty-five years, while his father, Squire Firth had also been a cornet player in the Queensbury band.
Not surprisingly, Edwin learned to play the cornet and in 1899 joined the Skipton Band quickly becoming principal cornet and playing with them at the 1902 Crystal Palace Challenge Shield contest, conducted by his father.
Renowned as something of a 'boy prodigy', he received many invitations to appear as a guest soloist with bands — using the money earned to further his talents under the tuition of William Rimmer and Alexander Owen.
He became principal cornet of Foden's Band aged 19 in 1908, helping them to victories at the British Open in 1909, 1910, 1912, 1913 and 1915, as well as the National title in 1910. He was also a talented composer and in 1913 his march 'Westward Ho!' won a prize in a competition ran by the British Bandsman weekly newspaper.
Killed in action
In 1917 he joined the 28th London Regiment (The Artists' Rifles) as a Private, and when posted to France took an old cornet with him on which to practice. Tragically, he was killed in action on 1st June 1918, aged 29, leaving a widow Doris (who died in 1991 and who never remarried) and a son, Edwin Jnr who died aged 75 in 1994.
Although Edwin's body was buried in the Varennes Military Cemetery, his name was added to the gravestone of his sister, found in a cemetery in the village of Earby, along with a decorative inscription of a cornet (above) as well as two War Memorials.
To mark the centenary of his death, Foden's will hold celebration concerts on the 1st and 3rd June in Sandbach.
As part of a successful Arts Council England application Foden's have commissioned Composer in Residence, Andy Scott to write a work to commemorate his life4BR
As part of a successful Arts Council England application Foden's have commissioned Composer in Residence, Andy Scott to write a work to commemorate his life, and which will be premiered at these events.
As well as the concerts there will also be an exhibition of Edwin's possessions (including his cornet)
In 2004, Allan Littlemore wrote the following article on Firth for 4BR: