Lieutenant Dan Godfrey

This article, taken from the 'Star' newspaper of 14th May 1898 lists, amongst other things, some of the gifts presented to Dan Godfrey in his capacity as Bandmaster of the Grenadier Guards band:-


"Of the remarkable family of Godfreys who practically made the Guards Band as it is today I must give a few particulars.

Charles Godfrey, the first, father of the present Lieutenant Dan and his brothers, was born in Kingston-on-Thames and commenced life as a drummer boy in the Surrey Militia. But nothing but the front ranks could contain such a man, so he enlisted in the band of the Coldstream Guards and eventually became bandmaster of it. He was a Musician in Ordinary to the Queen, and a member of the principal London orchestras. The instrument he principally played was the bassoon. He passed no less than sixty years of a long and honoured life in Her Majesty's service.

His eldest son, Lieutenant Dan Godfrey, of world-wide renown, has just closed forty years of military service. He was a student at the Royal Academy of Music and is now Professor of Military Music at that institution. He is conversant with most musical instruments, but in days gone by the flute was his speciality. His musical compositions are well known. He has conducted his band before, and been complimented by most of the celebrities of Europe from the time when he played before Garibaldi at Stafford House to the other day when the King of Portugal told him he must congratulate him on the performance of the band as he had never heard a finer. He has assisted many monarchs in their musical difficulties. The late King Kalakau of the Sandwich Islands sent him the Order of Kapiolani. From the Sultan of Zanzibar came two splendid gold bracelets for a new setting of the National Anthem of Zanzibar. The late Emperor Alexander of Russia presented him with a splendid enamel and silver cigar-case for arranging regimental marches for the Russian Army. The late Sultan of Turkey, who was himself a composer, sent to him through his Grand Vizier a gold watch chain and appendages with his high compliments for the manner in which Mr Godfrey had arranged His Majesty's compositions. The Prince of Wales gave him a diamond and turquoise ring which he always wears. But perhaps the proudest of his possessions are his commission, dated June 27th 1887 (the only one ever presented to a bandmaster) and the Silver Jubilee Medal given to him by the Queen of whom he is a special favourite. Next to these comes his appointment as Organist to the Masonic Lodge of the Officers of the Brigade of Guards in which office he was installed by HRH the Prince of Wales. He is father to three charming daughters and two sons, the elder of whom inherits his father's musical talents and is conductor of the municipal music at Bournemouth while the second is an expert in the manufacture of musical instruments.

Since this article was written it has become a matter of common knowledge that Lieutenant Godfrey has retired from the Army after a service of forty years. His successor in the band of the Grenadiers is Mr A Williams Mus. Bac. Cantab. But we are not to lose the well-known figure of Lieutenant Godfrey, for he is still before the public at the head of a band chosen by himself.

Of the other brothers Godfrey, it is only necessary to mention the late talented musician who succeeded his father as conductor of the Coldstream Band, and died all too soon; and Charles, whose commanding figure is so well known at the head of the "Blues" Band, which he has brought to the highest state of perfection. Other sons are all well known musicians.

Possibly, I cannot conclude more fittingly than by expressing my opinion that the main secret of the success of our Guards' bands is that they are officered by men who, in the words of Carlyle, 'knowing their duty, do it.'"

Regimental details | Band


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by Stephen Luscombe