About Clive Carey

The Clive Carey Collection 1924 South Australia


© Warren Fahey 2008

Clive Carey Collection

Some background on Carey: Francis Clive Savill Carey (known as Clive) was born at Sible Hedingham on 30 May 1883. He came from an artistically talented family, and was a chorister in the choir at King’s College before attending Sherborne School. He came up to Clare College as an Organ Scholar in 1901, and combined his undergraduate work with the Grove Scholarship in Composition at the Royal College of Music in London. He became friends with Edward Dent, Alwyn Scholfield and Percy Lubbock during his student days, and was involved in the University Greek Plays organised by Walter Durnford and other student productions. Later Carey studied with Jean de Reszke in Paris and Nice. In 1911 Carey directed and sang as ‘Papageno’ in the Cambridge production of Mozart’s opera Die Zauberflöte when Edward J. Dent’s English translation was first used.

During the First World War, Carey served as a ward orderly in the Medical Corps in France, and various other non-combatant roles. Between 1920 and 1924 he was employed as a singer and director of operas at the Old Vic Opera Company, until in 1924, disappointed with his lack of apparent progress in English professional music, he accepted a teaching post at the Elder Conservatorium, Adelaide University. He sang in several of Dame Nellie Melba’s farewell concerts in 1927, and left Australia to tour North America (where he sang folk songs) with a touring morris dance ensemble. He returned to London in 1928 and resumed his usual life of teaching at the Royal College of Music, lecturing and giving recitals on English Folk Song. In 1929 he married Doris. It should be noted that Adelaide was originally settled as a quasi utopian society and has always had a strong artistic spirit. It should further be noted that the great English folk song and dance collector, Cecil Sharp, also chose Adelaide and spent some of his early years working in that city. Sharpe arrived in Adelaide in November 1882 and early in 1883 obtained a position as a clerk in the Commercial Bank of South Australia. He read some law, and in April 1884 became associate to the chief justice, Sir Samuel James Way. He held this position until 1889 when he resigned and gave his whole time to music. He had become assistant organist at St Peter’s cathedral soon after he arrived, and had been conductor of the government house choral society and the cathedral choral society. Later on he became conductor of the Adelaide Philharmonic, and in 1889 entered into partnership with I. G. Reimann as joint director of the Adelaide school of music. He was very successful as a lecturer but about the middle of 1891 the partnership was dissolved. The school was continued under Reimann, and in 1898 developed into the Elder conservatorium of music in connection with the university. Sharp had made many friends and an address with over 300 signatures asked him to continue his work at Adelaide, but he decided to return to England and arrived there in January 1892. Whether Sharp’s tenure influenced Carey is unknown but is a fascinating connection for the two folk song collectors.

Carey had already been very active as a collector and much of his song collection dates to 1911 when he collected songs in Sussex with Dorothy Marshall. He then went on the collect dances in Oxfordshire and Gloucestorshire, usually in the wake of Sharp.  Carey published ‘Ten English Folk Songs’ in 1915. He certainly wasted no time when he arrived in Australia as his first Australian collecting was undertaken in December, 1924. It seems Carey might have been involved with the Theosophists as he contributed an article to their Advance Australia Magazine (1927 v3 i1 July p32 – English folk songs and dances — Clive Carey). What this does tell us is that he retained his interest in English folk song and traditions throughout his Australian residence.

In the 1930s, following the merge of the Old Vic and Sadlers Wells theatres, Carey worked for the new company directing, producing and singing in operas. He and Doris were on a personal visit to Australia when war broke out in 1939, and they stayed there for the duration of the war, Carey teaching and performing in recitals. On their return in 1945 he took up a short-term post as Director of Opera at Sadlers Wells. From then until his death in 1968 he continued to live in London, teaching singing.

Elizabeth Forbes in the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (www.grovemusic.com, 2004) describes Carey as follows: ‘A stylish performer, particularly of Mozart roles, and an accomplished actor, he was an imaginative director, much concerned with the elimination of accumulated tradition and returning to composers’ intentions, and a fine teacher.’