Felix Burns

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Felix Joseph Burns
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Born(1864-03-05)March 5, 1864
DiedJanuary 19, 1920(1920-01-19) (aged 55)

Felix Joseph Burns (born Perth 5th March, 1864 - died Carlisle, 19th January, 1920) was a Scottish composer and multi-instrumentalist.[1][2][3]


After a prodigious childhood, learning piano, Organ (music) and other instruments, he became a member of the local wind band, mastering several Brass instrument and Woodwind instrument there.[1]

He played in various show-bands from the early age of 16, marrying his cousin, Catherine. They had 13 children together.[1]

While performing in a show in Scotland and north England in 1885, a twist of fate led to its collapse.[1] It was partly for this reason that he and his wife decided to relocate to Carlisle.[2]

The considerable business acumen of Felix Burns, who incidentally is related to the composer James Peace, enabled him to integrate himself swiftly into the local music scene: As well as working as a respected teacher, he became Organist at St. Mary's and St. Joseph's Church, in Carlisle[1][2][3][4] and was also Bandmaster of the 4th Battalion of the Border Regiment.[1][2][3][4]

But, once again, destiny took a hand in his life: By chance, the manager of the local music shop just happened to be present when Burns was playing one of his own pieces of the piano.[1] Captivated by the music, he asked for a copy of the piece which he sent to a music-publishing friend in London.[1] Contacts were soon forged and Burns' first compositions appeared in print. The first available music became so popular that further compositions were commissioned. 16 books of his collected works were published (he wrote over 300 dances!) and this formed the basis for his international fame as a composer.[1][3] His compositions were published by the leading music publishers of the day including J. H. Larvey (London), The Willis Music Co. (U.S.), W. Morley & Co.(London), W. Paxton (London). The compositions were published, according to the custom of the early 20th century, not only under his own name, but also under pseudonyms such as Leona Lacoste.[1][2][5] His pieces bear attractive titles such as Gaiety, Merry Makers, Rose of Paradise, Moonlight on the Alps[5] and "Flowers of the Forest" (Woodland Flowers)[6], reputed to be his own personal favourite.[1]

Despite bouts of ill-health in later years he was still very active as a piano accompanist at the Winter Concerts at the Old Carlisle Town Hall.[1][3] He died suddenly on the evening of 19th January, 1920 after having given four music lessons earlier on the same day.[1]


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