I first encountered Ketèlbey’s music while playing in a light orchestra as a teenager.  Violas get very little of interest in that repertoire, so I was delighted to find a piece that not only gave me the tune, but also instructed me to sing in imitation of monks chanting.  There was also another piece, where, unusually for light music, there was depth of emotion and a sense of climax.  Those were my first encounters with In a Monastery Garden and Sanctuary of the Heart.


Some years later, I was given access to large library of orchestral sets that had belonged to professional conductor.  Again, certain pieces stood out, including a well-used series of 18 pieces for the silent cinema.  These had narrative captions either at the beginning of the music or actually in the course of it.  The name Albert W. Ketèlbey came back to me, and I began exploring his music.


At that time (1974), there were a small handful of LPs devoted to his music, covering just 12 works.  Slowly, over the years more began to appear, but it wasn’t until 1991 that things began to explode…


In the meantime, I had been researching the composer as a hobby.  Reference sources were very scant and contradictory, but luckily most of his later music had been published by Bosworth, who allowed me access to their archives.   Through Bosworth I made contact with other people who had a similar interest.


Throughout the seventies and eighties I built up my own collection of sheet music, together with information about out-of-print material, catalogued on 5x3 index cards.  When word-processing hit my desk, I realised the potential, and transferred the information to electronic format, and eventually produced a definitive catalogue of Ketèlbey’s music.


Back to 1991, and I was contacted by Rosemary Tuck about out-of-print piano music she needed for a CD.  In fact I was able to show her ample for two CDs, and was engaged to write the liner notes.  A similar thing happened in 2001, when I was able to collaborate with Peter Dempsey, and provide recordings and liner notes for some of the Naxos series of CDs.  Now there are almost 150 of Ketèlbey’s pieces available on commercial CD.


Researching printed music had also brought me in contact with recordings.  Unlike printed music, which is well-represented in libraries and bibliographies, sound recordings have tended to exist in a private sub-culture, and even the fruits of thorough research are often privately published and not widely circulated.  The National Sound Archive has a vast collection of recordings, but these are often merely catalogued by the manufacturer’s number.  So to find things I needed to do further research.


The present discography grew as I found chronological Columbia lists, early catalogues, and other sources.   The Gramophone magazine was searched from its earliest issue, though not all record manufacturers advertised there or sent recordings for review.  In the earlier stages of searching, I didn’t realise the import of making a note of all matrix numbers.  


Over the past years, much more information has become available on the internet, including actual performances on YouTube, both live and recorded.  WorldCat has provided details of holdings of many libraries, although their cataloguing has been of variable quality.  A downside of the internet is that webpages are frequently deleted, so links in this discography no longer work.


In October 2020 I did a through search of the Discogs website, which at that time had 827 entries for Ketelbey, and ever increasing.  I am very grateful for all those who contributed to that database.


This discography remains “work in progress.”   Please let me know of omissions or the mistakes that will have crept in over such a long period of gestation, so that it can be corrected and improved.


Tom McCanna, revised 18th October 2020.  t.mccanna@shef.ac.uk


Discography home             List of Works                  Albums           Albertketelbey.org.uk web site