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Dr Denis Wright & Joan of Arc.

By Michael .R. Cary

It all began in 1925 when Denis Wright as a music teacher at St Andrews School in East Grinstead saw an advertisement in a local paper offering a prize of 100 guineas      for anybody to write a suitable test piece for the National Band Championship as a suitable way to mark the 25th anniversary of the founding of this Championship.

He thought that this was a good way to fill up the school holiday. Although he had little experience of Brass Bands he obtained two previous test pieces to study. 

After a short while he set to work but within a week became stuck. Although not very rich he decided a short holiday in Europe would help.  After three days in Paris and cash running out he decided to return home. He moved back to Dieppe via Rouen.

Two things happened here, he had the inspiration to continue his test piece and while standing in the place where Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake 500 years previously and almost simultaneously came the idea to call the work after the Maid, more in thanksgiving for the idea than because the music really had any bearing on her story. So the overture was christened Joan of Arc

On return from his holiday he finished the score, submitted it and then forgot all about it.  It was about a month later that he was told that he had won the competition and the prize of 100 Guineas.

This was the start of a successful career for Dr Denis Wright as a composer which lasted for over 42 years.

 He was born in1895,died  in 1967.

My involvement in this was that Denis Wright married a cousin of mine Mrs Maud Wright and I obtained these details from the biography “Doctor Denis”  The Life And Times of Dr Denis Wright.  by Roy Newsome.