The Twickenham Museum
People : Musicians

Cedric King Palmer
Composer and conductor of light music
1913 - 1999

Clovelly Lodge, Pope's Grove, Twickenham, where King Palmer lived until his death.

Cedric King Palmer lived for many years at Clovelly Lodge in Popes Grove, Twickenham, where he taught the piano until his death on 13th July 1999.

A musical polymath

King Palmer made a substantial contribution to popularising music as a composer, pianist, violinist, author, singer, lecturer, conductor, writer and teacher. He was a prolific composer, his works including film and radio music, arrangements of popular classics, musicals and instrumental pieces.
He was born in Sussex in 1913 and was educated at Tonbridge School and the Royal Academy of Music. While still a student, he was invited by Sir Henry Wood to conduct at the Queen’s Hall. During the Second World War, he volunteered for service in the RAF, but his application was rejected because of his poor sight. He married Winifred Henry in 1947 and the couple briefly ran a bookshop in South Kensington.

King Palmer, circa 1965. All his dogs were called Nimrod.

Orchestral suites, arrangements, television and radio music, children's plays

After the war, he conducted the King Palmer Light Music Orchestra (on the BBC Light Programme), the Sevenoaks Music Society, the City Literary Institute Orchestra, and various film and theatre orchestras. He composed the orchestral suites Down a Country Lane, Out of Doors, Eight Period Pieces, Studies in Motion, and Studies in Happiness. His arrangements of classical pieces for orchestra include Galopade, (a pot-pourri of galops and can-cans) and Sousa on Parade and were popular in the 1940s and 1950s. Amongst his works for television and radio was the Eleventh Hour Melody, the theme music for the show The Eleventh Hour (a medical drama).

It is as a prolific composer of light music that King Palmer will perhaps be most remembered. His many compositions include Fairy Cobweb, Golden Harvest, Blue Days at Sea, Country Market, Hackney Carriage (selected by an Internet site as an ideal piece of music to accompany dinner for people over 60!), Paddle Steamer, Enchantment, Feather on the Breeze, Paul Pry, Frivolity, Procession, Gala, Spindlelegs, Stormy Passage, Softly She Sleeps, Busy Life, Tomorrow the World and March of the Astronauts. He composed music for children's plays such as Hop o' my Thumb, Two Weeks to Californiay, Aladdin, Dick Whittington, and Coalblack and the Seven Giants.

Cover of "Music an Introduction" by King Palmer.

Writer, magistrate and teacher

King Palmer was a popular writer on music, especially in Hodder and Stoughton's Home University Library Teach Yourself series Music (four editions, the last in 1978): Compose Music and Play the Piano. Other publications were a study of the minor composer Granville Bantock, Your Music and You, The Musical Production and The ABC of Church Music, which included practical advice to church musicians on such sensitive matters as remuneration and how to deal with visiting clergy as well as notes on etiquette.

After the death of his wife in 1973, King Palmer took a course in teaching music therapy, working with patients who had been discharged from mental hospitals. He was a magistrate in Richmond and a prison visitor. He will be remembered locally by his many pupils as a kind and patient piano teacher and more widely for his prodigious output of popular music

Further Reading

Obituary, The Independent (London), 26th July 1999.

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