Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Godfrey, Daniel

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1524161Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement, Volume 2 — Godfrey, Daniel1912James Cuthbert Hadden

GODFREY, DANIEL (1831 – 1903), bandmaster and composer, eldest of four sons of Charles Godfrey, bandmaster of the Coldstream guards for fifty years, was born at Westminster on 4 Sept. 1831. His eldest brother, George William Godfrey, was well known as a playwright. Daniel was educated at the Royal Academy of Music, where he subsequently became professor of military music and was elected a fellow. In his early days he was a flute player in Jullien's orchestra and at the Royal Italian Opera. In 1856, on the recommendation of Sir Michael Costa, he was, through the influence of the Prince Consort, appointed bandmaster of the Grenadier guards, and one of his first duties was to play into London the brigade of guards returning from the Crimea. In 1863 he composed his famous 'Guards' waltz for the ball given by the officers of the guards to King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, then Prince and Princess of Wales, on their marriage. This was followed by the 'Mabel' and 'Hilda' waltzes, which enjoyed universal popularity. During one of the visits of the guards band to Paris, Bizet, the composer of 'Carmen,' unconsciously caught the theme of one of them, and it figures in the finale to the first act of Bizot's 'Les Pêcheurs des Perles.' Godfrey mode a tour with his band in the United States in 1876 in celebration of the centenary of American Independence. It was the first visit of an English military band since the creation of the republic, and a special Act of Parliament had to be passed to authorise it. At Queen Victoria's jubilee (1887) he was promoted second-lieutenant — the first bandmaster who received a commission in the army. He was also decorated with the jubilee medal and clasp. In 1891 he reached the age limit of sixty, but his period of service was extended for five years. He retired from the army on 4 Sept. 1896, with the reputation of England's leading bandmaster. Subsequently he formed a private military band which played at the chief exhibitions in England and with which he twice toured America and Canada. He rendered splendid service to the cause of military music, and was very successful as an 'arranger' of compositions for military bands. He died at Beeston, Nottinghamshire, on 30 June 1903. Godfrey married in 1856 Joyce Boyles, by whom he had two sons and three daughters. His eldest son, Dan Godfrey (b. 1868), a well-known conductor, is musical director to the corporation of Bournemouth. A cartoon of Godfrey by 'Spy' appeared in 'Vanity Fair' on 10 March 1888.

[Musical Times, Aug. 1903; British Musical Biogr.; Grove's Dict. of Music, 1906, ii. 192; Theatre, 1891, 1899 (portrait); private information.]

J. C. H.