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A Musical Strain

Observers - and even auditors - of the surprisingly vigorous Dorset musical scene [one has to look no further than Eric Fishwick, [authorised biographical note HERE] Addinsell Threadbone [90th birthday tribute HERE] and our own much-treasured Ziggy Osmington [HERE and HERE] - have not been slow to credit its 20th-century renaissance to the advocacy and example [as well as, presumably, the compositional talents] of Batcombe's own Sir Philip Sidney - Professor Brian Thrupiece. Once dubbed by a German visitor - distantly related to the Durchstück's - as "die Grafschaft ohne Musik" - Dorset became, in the late 20th century, a place of pilgrimage for the musically illiterate; thanks in no small measure to that miracle of selfless cultural enlightenment and shameless self-promotion , the Threadbone Corporation-sponsored Primavera Festival [see HERE].

A quirky antecedent? Percival Stranger Whisky-McNightly [1890-1948]

So far so nicely above the stave; but what, one wonders is the genetic origin of the talent which manifest itself in the Professor himself? History records that though he was given a little encouragement by his parents during his early years [neither his father nor mother was - according to neighbours - remotely musical*] he was possessed of prodigious gifts. Attempts to trace the wider family in Germany [the aforementioned Durchstücks], Italy [Mediapassentes and Pezzopassantes], France [Travers-la-Pièces], Sweden [Genomgåendestyckes] and even Wales [Trwydarns]** all failed to produce a single viable link, so it was with some desperation that musicologists searched even further afield.

* Musicologist and folk song collector Brigg Fayre has written: "He'd give it a go on the jaw's harp and she could maintain a very uncertain rhythm on the washboard - during her life-long though ultimately futile attempts to sanitise his smalls - but none of it amounted to a hummable tune" [see B Fayre [1994] The Folksongs of Dorset: Sources for a Prosopographic Ethnomusicology" [Threabone Press]

**there was some desperation in the last of these given that the Irish connection [the Tríphíosa] had come up "dry" - an almost unheard of condition in that fair land. is now at liberty to reveal that after more than ten years of painstaking research "the missing link" has been found in that most unlikely of places - the United states of America - where not one but more than five [seven] Thrupiece-related professional composers have been identified as possible ancestors. Associate Professor of Music History at Bradstock College, New Orleans, Levee Banks says she has identified at least 6 [actaully 7] individuals with plausible connection to the Dorset genius.

Though European by birth, Felix Mentalhome Thrupiece [1822-1886] - composer and virtuoso on the boojeejaphone - made his biggest impact in the United States.

Felix Mentalhome Thrupiece [1822-1886]

Anton Divorcechick Thrupiece [1865-1915]

Percival Stranger Whisky-McNightly [1890-1948]

Edith Shitwell-Hanks Thrupiece* [1906-1972]

Leonardo Elmer Burnstove Atravésdapeça [1933-1999]

Pierre Boutique Thrupiece [1953-2017]

Thomas Adès-Chipps [1958-]

*** Surely some mistake: wasn't she a minor poet and socialite related in some strange way to Scratchwell Shitwell-Hanks and cartoonist Osmington Lancaster-Bommer? [Ed]

A key figure in the racy Bloomingdale's Circle, Edith Shitwell-Hanks Thrupiece made her mark on the musical world of NYC in the 1920s

"So perhaps the Professor is not so sui generis as we have been led to believe hitherto", says cultural observer Kofi Taybel-Bookes. "There appears to be a minor dynasty of unheard and unheard of composers in the USA who may prove collectively to have provided the gene pool from which the Professor drew so deeply in acquiring his musical facility. Obviously a DNA test would put the whole matter beyond doubt - though we would have to find him first, and, of course, dig up most of the rest".

All of which will merely fuel the debate, be it nature v nurture, the unique nature of genius or, more pertinently - where the hell is he?

Watch this space...

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