Gilbert and Sullivan Archive



April 15, 1999 announcement by Helga J. Perry:

This afternoon Bruce I. Miller is reading a paper on behalf of us both at the 10th annual interdisciplinary conference of the Society for Textual Scholarship, C.U.N.Y Graduate Center, New York, announcing our discovery of most of the missing orchestral parts for a "lost" musical number in H.M.S. PINAFORE.

This is the ballad which was to have been sung by Captain Corcoran to Josephine in the scene immediately following her entrance song, "Sorry her lot." (Josephine joined him in duet for the refrain.) The words begin, "Reflect, my child" and can be found in a version transcribed by Ian Bradley in all editions of his Annotated Gilbert and Sullivan (careful readers will observe that our edition differs in certain respects from Bradley's):


Reflect, my child, he may be brave
As any in the Royal Navy
And daily foil a watery grave,
The locker of poor Davy.
But ah! what gallant act
Could counteract
The fearful social ban
That falls on man
Who with his knife's sharp blade devours his gravy.

In truth I fear
The sneer
That would disgrace
Each face
When he with blade of knife devoured his gravy.


He may a second Shakespeare be,
Endowed with faculty creative,
But what avail such gifts, if he
Confounds accusative with dative.
In what far nook of earth
Would moral worth,
Or strength of lung or limb,
Atone for him
Whose verbs don't tally with the nomi-native.


Oh, I can tell
Too well
How people frown
Him down
Whose verbs don't tally with the nominative.

The ballad appears to have been cut prior to opening night, but had been set to music and scored before its excision. Gilbert mentions in his diary entry for May 1st 1878 that he "wrote 'Reflect my child' for Barrington" and took the words to Sullivan the same evening. It appears to be the only musical number from this opera that Gilbert mentioned by name in his diaries during the time that he was working on the opera.

The music was found last summer in old manuscript orchestra parts of H.M.S. PINAFORE which were copied for the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, and which have been made available for study by us.

The story is that Bruce asked me to look at these old manuscript band parts to help resolve editorial problems for the critical edition now in progress. I told Bruce on the phone that some of the parts contained the very first PINAFORE Act II Finale, and were obviously 19th century in origin. He asked me to check them to see if there was any evidence of the splitting and renumbering of "Over the bright blue sea" to take into account the removal of the original #6 "Reflect, my child" ["Over the bright blue sea" became the new #6 and "Sir Joseph's barge is seen" became #7]. I said I had a viola part of music which did not match that of "Over the bright blue sea." ! We both got very excited, and Bruce asked if there were any other books containing this music. I called back 15 minutes later with the following list: parts for flutes and clarinets that contained some brief vocal cues, also (French) horns, violas, two cello/bass books, and a trombone book that had "tacet" written for the old No. 6.

The First violin part was all that had hitherto been known to have survived: David Mackie found and transcribed it at the D'Oyly Carte office in 1976, and David Russell Hulme reproduced a transcription of this same Violin I music in his Ph.D. dissertation for the University of Wales Aberystwyth in 1986 (British Library: Thesis reference DX 171353). Percy M. Young, the editor of the Pinafore critical edition, also kindly made available to us his own transcription. The original violin book has unfortunately vanished. We didn't find that, nor did we find a 2nd violin part, so we used the material from Mackie, Young and Hulme to fill in the 1st violin, and reconstructed a conjectural violin 2 part based on what we had in the other string parts. As musicians will know, reconstructing a 2nd violin part in this type of orchestration is a relatively straightforward and not difficult task.

We didn't have the vocal lines either - there is no full score extant for this number, though one can see where it used to be in Sullivan's autograph score. It never got into any vocal scores. So we had to do a lot of detective work over the past nine months. We had some clues from cues in the flute & clarinet parts (clarinet has 4 notes with the words underneath, so we knew it was the right song), and the refrain was pretty obvious to work out from the woodwind parts too. We didn't have so much to go on for the verse - a couple of cadences and some unison string measures were the easy sections, and we've come up with several possibilities for filling in the gaps.

To those of you who have kept track of scholarship in this field, the task of our reconstruction was similar to that faced by those attempting a similar process for the Duke's song in Patience, "Though men of rank may useless seem." In our situation there appeared to be more melodic help in the orchestration, so that for a large percentage of the ballad we can be confident of Sullivan's melodic line. For much of the verse, however, the accompaniment provides less assistance. As there really is no formula for reconstructing a Sullivan melody in the relatively free form he left to us, our reconstruction is simply a means by which the number can be performed. We have assessed and evaluated many alternate approaches. We assume that others will be playing around with the existing jigsaw puzzle for years.

Our edition, which includes a comprehensive article, full score, piano- vocal reduction, band parts, and critical apparatuses for both the words and the music, has been copyrighted and will be published in two Broude Brothers publications: as part of the appendix for the critical edition of Pinafore, and in a separate performance edition so that people who already possess a set of orchestral parts can include this number in their productions. (The critical edition of Pinafore will be issued with complete performance materials as well.)

The first live public performance with full orchestra will be given at the International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival in Buxton, England, on July 29th, and the soloists will be former D'Oyly Carte Opera Company stars Michael Rayner as Captain Corcoran and Jean Hindmarsh as Josephine. This will be included in our lecture, "Gilbert & Sullivan Rarities: Music From The Cutting Room Floor" at 3 p.m. in the Paxton Theatre.

We are grateful to the following members of SavoyNet who have assisted us with aspects of our research: Ralph MacPhail, Jr., Eric Schwartz, Thomas Z. Shepard, Marc Shepherd, and Michael Walters.

15 April 1999

  Page updated 28 October 2000