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As I Went a-Roaming

Composer: Brahe May

Instruments: Voice Piano

Tags: Song

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Wikipedia
Mary Hannah (May) Brahe (née Dickson) (6 November 1884 – 14 August 1956) was an Australian composer, best known for her songs and ballads. Her most famous song by far is "Bless This House", recorded by John McCormack, Beniamino Gigli, Lesley Garrett and Bryn Terfel. According to Move.com.au: "She was the only Australian woman composer to win local an international recognition before World War II," having "290 of her 500 songs published. Of these, 248 were written under her own name, the remainder under aliases.
Mary Hannah Dickson was born in East Melbourne in 1884. She was known as May from an early age. Her father was native born and her mother Scottish. She studied piano with her mother, then at Stratherne Girls' School, Hawthorn, and later with Mona McBurney and the singer Alice Rebotarro.
In 1903 she married Frederick Brahe, the couple had two sons and a daughter. By 1910 she was playing in a trio with George W. L. Marshall-Hall, and accompanying singers. In 1912 she left for London to establish herself as a composer, leaving her children behind. Her first success was the 1915 song "Down Here," beginning "It's Quiet Down Here" with lyrics by P.J. O'Reilly. In 1914 she returned to Australia, but only for long enough to bring her family back to England.
Brahe published under her married name and nine pseudonyms. This allowed more frequent publication, as publishers were reluctant to publish more than four of her songs in a year. The names she composed under included: Mervyn Banks, Mary Hannah Brahe, Donald Crichton, Stanley Dickson, Alison Dodd, Stanton Douglas, Eric Faulkner, Wilbur B. Fox, Henry Lovell, Mary Hanna Morgan, and George Pointer.
In 1919 her husband was killed in a motor accident. In 1922, in London, she married George Albert Morgan, an Australian-born actor. When her publisher was taken over by Boosey & Hawkes in 1925, she became one of their few composers on an annual retainer. In the next 18 years she published 400 compositions, mainly ballads. Dame Nellie Melba, Peter Dawson, John Charles Thomas and other singers recorded her songs, many of which were chosen as items for school concerts in the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States.
She made settings of poems by William Blake, Robert Browning, Robert Herrick, Walter de la Mare, Dorothea Mackellar and living lyricists such as Helen Taylor, Madge Dickson (her sister), and P. J. O'Reilly. Helen Taylor was her most frequent collaborator, including "Bless This House" (1927). This simple song became world-famous in recordings by singers such as John McCormack, Peter Dawson, Jan Peerce, Beniamino Gigli and Josef Locke, through to Vera Lynn, Doris Day and Perry Como, and continues its popularity in the present day, with recordings by Benjamin Luxon, Leontyne Price, Lesley Garrett and Bryn Terfel.
She wrote musical comedies, including Castles in Spain, with a libretto by Sydney and Muriel Box. She returned to Australia in 1939 and lived in semi-retirement. She lived comfortably from song royalties. She died at Bellevue Hill, New South Wales in 1956; she was survived by two sons and a daughter of her first marriage and a son of her second.
In 2018, it was revealed that her daughter Marita, under her married surname Perigoe, had spent the Second World War in London believing that she was a Nazi spy. Perigoe had in fact been duped by an agent of MI5 in what was known as the Fifth Column operation.