Mike and Diane Wilson -
Free Spirit
One life. Grab it and run

Home Page

A blue plaque was unveiled at The Spa Royal Hall, Bridlington, in pouring rain on Saturday, 7th June, 2014 (Darewski Day). Diane and I celebrate the event.

Herman Darewski

This page is dedicated to Herman Darewski, one-time Musical Director for Bridlington.

I've known about Herman for years even though I didn't have much information. I came by an old poster of him advertising his band at the Spa Royal Hall and decided to find more about him.

The event that rocketed my interest was a sale lot at Spencers Auctions late in 2011. The two boxes were packed with memorabilia of Herman and his wife, Madge Temple (see her page on this site).

Among the items were photographs, sheet music, brochures and leaflets and other items. One of the photographs was signed by Irving Berlin: "To Herman from Irving." I'd love to know just when and where they met.

These certificates are Herman's Elementary and Intermediate pianoforte successes at the London College of Music. The Elementary is dated 21st April, 1896, while the Intermediate is dated 10th July, 1896, only three months afterwards. I bought them with the Irving Berlin photo mentioned above.

Herman write the music for this play written by Bruce Bairnsfather during World War One. The play was performed over 800 times before it was performed all round the world. The play was eventually made into a film.

Bairnsfather created the character Old Bill, who became famous during that war for peering over the lip of a foxhole and commenting to his comrade: "If you can find a better 'ole, go to it!"

Old Bill became very well known during WWI with hundreds of other cartoons and books.

This sheet music was another of Herman's successes. The song found favour during World War One.

Such was Herman's worldwide reputation, he wrote a waltz for the Victory celebrations at the end of World War One. The song was written in aid of St Dunstan's Hostel for Blinded Soldiers and Sailors.

In 1929 Herman Darewski and his Famous Broadcast Band were in Bridlington's Spa Royal Hall for the season.

Even now it is possible to listen to Herman and his music courtesy of the internet. By logging onto Google videos and searching for Herman Darewski, all manner of tunes are available to listen to.

This photograph of Herman shows his character I think: smooth, debonair, charming.

Herman Darewski's Wonder Way Music Tutor was published around 1920. He used symbols of animals and birds instead of notes. It is said that he taught the Queen to play the piano, but Windsor Castle has been unable to confirm this.

Herman apparently ran into the landladies of Bridlington, as his popular dances offered fun and games to holidaymakers. Not exactly what the boarding house keeper - probably Mrs Elsie Stoppitt of Dunpleasin Guest House - had in mind for her guests.

Herman Darewski and His Melody Band were on the programme for the Royal Performance in the presence of Their Majesties The King and Queen of Afghanistan on Monday, 26th March, 1928, at the London Coliseum.

At that time Darewski was appearance at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

Herman Darewski and his wife Madge Temple. Madge was a famous performer, singing in many shows in South Africa and Australia. In 1914 he travelled to Australia to be with her.

Herman was born on 17th April, 1883, in Minsk, son of a music teacher and brother to Max Darewski, famous as a child prodigy.

For many years Herman worked for Francis, Day and Hunter, the music publishers. After the Second World War, Herman was involved in publishing music with his own company.

He died on 2nd June 1947.

Herman and Madge had two sons, Neville and Barrie, both deceased.

Herman seemed to have been brilliant with children and especially for them he created the Musical Midgets. The Star newspaper (whether it was the Sheffield Star or no I haven't yet discovered) published these small pieces. Herman wrote the notes of well-known musical items and then decorated them to suit the topic. This one is for "Auld Lang Syne."

Herman's fame spread between the wars. He had a large house in London, and he had homes elsewhere in southern England at other times.

The address for his blotters, pictured, is: Darewski House, 122-124 Charing Cross Road, London WC2.


Herman was a keen artist and he put many sketches in autograph albums throughout his life. Scribbled at the top are the words "Sketched in court," with the date 1st February, 1908.

Herman created characters like the one above by melting sealing wax on card, then shaping it.

This is Herman Darewski and his Broadcast Band.

Herman's book, Musical Memories, was published in 1937, and has a long chapter on his time in Bridlington. The lady above is telling Herman she is disappointed that she did not see him dance, even though the poster gives the times of "Darewski Dances."

The fan above was a piece of promotional material for the Herman's Sing Song Girl of Old Shanghai, while the badge opposite is self explanatory. I have two dozen of these. They are the size of a one penny piece.
This is the poster that started my interest in Herman. It had been discarded in the modernisation of the Harbour Museum about ten years ago (2002).

It is said that Herman was a great showman. The orchestra would play the first piece at the dance with someone else conducting. It would be a slow piece. When it was finished, Herman would bound on to the platform, declaring "Now I'm here, we'll soon liven the place up!" and he'd lead the band into one of his upbeat numbers.

He suffered - like Shakespeare says - "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune." He made a fortune, but was also made bankrupt. He claimed he could pay everyone back. And he probably could.

At the Spa, he created the biggest ever cake, with sections being brought in from the town's bakeries and joined together on stage.

He also said he would make the biggest ever bouquet of flowers, and gardeners from Bridlington flocked to the Spa with their offerings.

This music was specially written by Herman Darewski for the Silver Jubilee on 6th May 1935 of King George V. The music and words appeared in the Sunday Graphic, the day before the procession through the streets of London.  
This piece of music was penned in 1915. The music only is shown, but I guess for the show there would have been words too. A lovely piece gained via Ebay.  

Mike Wilson