Swann, Donald Ibrahim


b Llanelli, Carmarthens, S Wales 1923; d Clapham, S London, 1994. Westminster Sch and Christ Ch Oxford (BA, Russian and Modern Gk). In the second world war he served as a noncombatant with the Friends Ambulance Unit in Greece. He first wrote for London revues 1953–54; while largely self-taught, he became a prolific composer and went on to write music for works by JRR Tolkien, Henry Reed, Jn Betjeman and Cecil Day Lewis, and an opera Perelandra (1964) based on C S Lewis’s popular novel. A gifted stage entertainer, notably with his wheelchair-bound friend, singer Michael Flanders, who shared in the 1956–57 revue At the Drop of a Hat, its 1963 successor At the Drop of Another Hat, and many successful recordings and published song-books. The ‘hat’ shows toured in Scotland, USA and Australia. Song cycles, comedy and many works for children were part of his wide repertoire. A peace-loving member of the Society of Friends (Quakers) he wrote a part-meditation, part-autobiography, The Space between the Bars, and retired to London, listing his recreations as travelling in Greece and going to the launderette. No.150.

Tunes and arrangements by Swann, Donald Ibrahim

Tune Name