Vivian Dunn

From Wind Repertory Project
Vivian Dunn


Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Francis Vivian Dunn KCVO OBE FRSA (24 December 1908, Jabalpur, India—3 April 1995, Haywards Heath, Sussex, England, United Kingdom) was the Director of Music of the Portsmouth Division of the Royal Marines and Principal Director of Music of the Royal Marines from 1953 to 1968. He was the first British Armed Forces musician to be knighted.

Dunn's father, William James Dunn, was bandmaster of the Second Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps and later director of music of the Royal Horse Guards. Dunn studied piano with his mother, Beatrice Maud, and undertook choral studies in Winchester. He attended the Hochschule für Musik Köln in 1923 and, two years later, the Royal Academy of Music. He studied conducting with Henry Wood and composition with Walton O'Donnell. As a violinist, he performed in the Queen's Hall Promenade Orchestra (under Wood), and in 1930 was a founding member of the BBC Symphony Orchestra (under several conductors).

Dunn was released from his contract with the BBC and on 3 September 1931 commissioned as a lieutenant in the Royal Marines to be director of music for the Portsmouth Division of the Corps. His duties included directing the Royal Marines Band on the Royal Yacht. He participated in the royal tour of South Africa onboard HMS Vanguard in 1947 and a Royal Marines band tour of the United States and Canada in 1949.

His promotion to lieutenant-colonel and principal director of music of the Royal Marines followed in 1953. Dunn and the Royal Marines Band accompanied Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh on the SS Gothic for the post-coronation Commonwealth Tour. Upon its completion, the Queen appointed Dunn CVO, and in 1960 OBE.

In 1955, Dunn was asked by Euan Lloyd of Warwick Films to compose the theme music for The Cockleshell Heroes (which was otherwise scored by John Addison). He appears as himself, conducting the Royal Marines, in the end titles of the 1966 film Thunderbirds Are Go.

Upon retiring from the military in December 1968, Dunn became a guest conductor with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. He also recorded with the Light Music Society Orchestra. In 1969, he received an EMI Golden Disc for sales of more than one million Royal Marines Band records. In the same year, he was also elected an honorary member of the American Bandmasters Association. In 1987, he received the Sudler Medal of the Order of Merit from the John Philip Sousa Foundation. He became the Founder President of the International Military Music Society in 1976, a position which he held until his death. In 1988, after serving as the Senior Warden, Dunn became the first military musician to be installed as the Master of the Worshipful Company of Musicians.

Dunn composed and arranged over 60 pieces of music. Several are marches, many with connections to the Royal Marines. These include The Globe and Laurel (1935, revised 1945), The Captain General (1949), Cockleshell Heroes (1955) and Mountbatten March (1972). He arranged many others, including The Preobrajensky March (attributed to Donajowsky; later to become the official slow march of the Royal Marines) and A Life on the Ocean Wave (the official quick march).

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