The band music of the O’Donnell brothers



Please contribute to this project to enable us to complete the first ever recording of all existing works for wind orchestra by the O’Donnell brothers.

You could receive a preview album or more! Unfortunately, it’s an expensive business to make recordings, so your help is urgently needed…

We have already recorded “Lyric Poem” (When the Sun is Setting) by BW O’Donnell, “Prelude”, “Strathspeys and Reels” and a sequel: “The Irish Maiden” as well as “Fantasie Overture” by Rudolph, all unpublished original works. for wind band – wonderful stuff and the RAF College Band loved recording it.

Additionally, works already released ‘in the box’ are BW’s ‘Crusader March’, ‘Two Irish Tone Sketches’ and two of the ‘Three Humoresques’ before the members of the RAF College Band were hit by Covid!

We would like to return in November to complete what will now be a double album – the third Humoresque, ‘Theme and Variations’ and ‘Songs of the Gael’ plus a few smaller items But we need YOUR help to fund this and ensure that this beautiful music often with Irish flavor can be heard and replayed, the unpublished works have been engraved and will be published by the conductor Publications. Donations, no matter how small, are welcome and urgently needed.

Many harmony enthusiasts know the three O’Donnell brothers: PSG O’Donnell (1882-1945), RP O’Donnell (1885 – 1961) and Bertram Walton O’Donnell (1887-1939). Between them they served as bandmasters with a wide variety of bands in the Army, Royal Marines and RAF. BW studied cello and composition at the Royal Academy of Music and was by far the most prolific and best known of the three as a composer. Between 1927 and 1937 BW was bandleader of the superlative BBC Wireless Military Band, followed between 1937 and 1943 by his brother Percy. During the Second World War, Rudolph was the RAF’s Senior Director of Music and Band Leader of the Central Band which then comprised London’s top professional musicians who had signed up for the duration. All three composed and conducted.

Alison O’Donnell, herself a well known Irish folk singer is Percy’s granddaughter and approached me some time ago to record some previously unknown and unreleased tracks by BW and Rudolph. We have set up a program to include the unknown of BW A lyrical poem (When Sun sets), PreludeAfter : The Irish Maid and Strathspeys and reels– all original works for concert band, reminiscent of the style of Percy Grainger and beautiful in themselves, wonderful to play and to hear. Then there’s the mighty of Rudolph Fantastic opening another unknown original band track. To this we add some smaller elements of the three brothers and if we can we will also record the four published works of BW: Three HumoresquesTwo Irish Tone Sketches, Songs of Gael and Theme and variations. All of this will be released on my MPR label – please visit We are aiming, funding permitting, to create a double CD album containing as much of the three brothers’ existing music as possible. The “unknown” works have now been etched and will be available for purchase through Bandleader Publications.

We have engaged one of the best professional military groups in the UK, which I can now reveal to be the superb group at RAF College (the professional group based at RAF Cranwell). The spacious chapel is an excellent recording room with beautiful acoustics and we have the services of the famous Tony Faulkner as sound engineer. I have recorded many years of military bands, so many of you will already know my work, we aim for the highest production values.

Although some support has already been pledged, we need to raise up to £6,000 to cover all production and musical costs and complete the project. So I hope you will be generous and support this exciting business, every little bit helps and we have a reward system for donations. Just follow the instructions, it’s very easy to donate, let’s spread this wonderful unknown music for people to enjoy!

Thanks in advance


MPR Michael Purton


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