Mayerl was a natural. Born in Tottenham Court Road, right by London’s West End theatre land, he won a scholarship to study at Trinity College of Music while still a young boy, and soon after performed Grieg’s Piano Concerto at the Queen’s Hall. As a young teenager he played in dance bands and accompanied silent films, and a little later was the pianist in the prestigious Savoy Havana Band. His recordings and broadcasts brought him renown and in 1925 he gave the British premiere of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, his ‘lightning fingers’ filmed by slow-motion camera. He wrote for revues all over the country and composed musicals for which he formed a twenty-six piece orchestra. In 1926, with great enterprise, he went into business and started a ‘Correspondence Course in Modern Syncopation’, which proved popular and became a worldwide affair with more than 30,000 subscribers. The war interrupted proceedings and momentum was never fully regained. It finally closed in 1957, two years before Mayerl’s premature death. Like Dame Myra Hess, he did his bit for the war effort. He led his own band in a radio programme, Music while you work, designed to support wartime factory workers; its enduring popularity ensured its continuance for a further twenty years. Mayerl’s prolific and delightful, if somewhat eccentric, output demands a proper revival.
from notes by Piers Lane © 2013