our past and present
Haydn Wood was born on 25 March 1882, at the Lewisham Hotel, Slaithwaite.
He came from a very musical family, and at the age of 15 he won a scholarship which took him to the Royal College of Music in London, where he studied the violin.
After his marriage to Miss Dorothy Court, the soprano vocalist, the couple toured the country for 13 years appearing on Concert platform and in Theatres. It was during this time that he turned to composing and wrote ballads, choral works and orchestral suites and during the 1914-18 war he composed the ballad for which he is perhaps best know, “Roses of Picardy”. He died on 11 March 1959 but his music, as with all works of art, lives on.
The Start of the Festival
The Urban District Council of Colne Valley, wishing to commemorate the birth of this famous musician and composer at Slaithwaite, arranged a Musical Festival in September 1959, which became an annual event.
The competition was held for many years at Colne Valley High School (opened in 1956) and obviously drew most of its competitors from the School, the ruling being that the Festival was open to children between the ages of 9 and 18 residing in the Urban District of Colne Valley.
The first Festival had 15 classes and 141 entries. Our present accompanist, Sue Christie, was second in both the 12-14 Piano Solo and the Piano Duet and won the Haydn Wood Trophy in 1961.
Celebrating Over 60 Years
The rules have changed slightly over the years, particularly with the boundary changes, first becoming Kirklees, then Kirklees and Calderdale and finally in 2001, open to all young people up to the age of 21. However, the Haydn Wood Trophy still remains to be won by the competitor with the highest mark who lives in the old Urban District of Colne Valley.
Over the years, many more trophies have been donated and now there is a wonderful array of silverware for the young people to win.
Today the festival is held in much the same way as it was thirty ago, from the beautiful upright piano in the corner to the wooden board that tells the audience which class is on.