Percy Eastman Fletcher, was born in Derby on 12 December 1879 and died on 10 December 1932 at the early age of 52. He took lessons on violin, piano and organ, the former being his most important instrument. Like a number of his composer contemporaries, he made his living as a Musical Director in the London theater world, fulfilling this position successively at the Prince of Wales, Savoy, Daly's, Drury Lane and from, 1915 until his death, His Majesty's Theatre.
His creative activity was however by no means confined to the theater. There were ballads and songs, ad a considerable amount for chorus,as well as sacred works, "The Passion of Christ" (1922), one of the best of those sacred cantatas for small church choirs.
Fletcher wrote a large number of suites for light orchestras, and many fine, now forgotten, orchestral works.
Most of Fletcher's piano music was arranged from orchestral scores, but there are several fine works, originally for piano solo.
He also composed quite widely for organ. An Interlude of 1901 is probably his earliest dated publication, while later works include the two most famous of his organ works, both dating from 1915, "Festival Toccata" and the always exquisite, "Fountain Reverie."
"Soft Voluntary 'St. Cuthbert'" is found in "Hymn-Tune Voluntaries Part II", published by J. Curwen & Sons Ltd. in 1906.
It is a delicate, pastorale-like setting of the tune by the Rev. John B. Dykes (1823-1876), which was once well-known, but now rarely sung. It is usually linked with words by Harriet Auber (1773-1862), "Our blest Redeemer, ere he breathed his tender last farewell.
Since Fletcher is not "burdened" by things such as the "cathedral tradition", his settings are all quite fresh, colorful, and even entertaining. This one didn't much "filling out," but did need thoughtfulness in the registration scheme.
The score, a photo of Percy Fletcher, and one of the Rev. John B. Dykes are attached below.
MORE P. E. Fletcher to come!