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BENEDICT AND BALFE 105
Artois Bunn, the author of the opera, and manager of Drury Lane Theatre, expressed an opinion that the song was superfluous, and had better come out. Whereupon Henry Phillips declared that if he wasn't allowed to sing it he would promptly throw up his part, and after a good deal of heated discussion it was decided to retain it. The song met with a tremendous reception.
It was prefaced by a cornet symphony which was somewhat of a novelty, and no doubt helped to catch the public ear. Phillips was a fine singer with a magnificent voice.
Henry Bird, the veteran accompanist, tells me he remembers accompanying Phillips in 1851, in which year the latter was one of the vocalists at the annual concert given by Bird's father, when organist of Walthamstow. Bird had himself assisted at the concerts, either as accompanist or soloist, from the time that he was eighteen years of age. "I well remember," he says, in speaking of the occasion, " going to Henry Phillips's house to rehearse. I have a memento of this visit in the shape of a composition of his, on which he wrote :—
MASTER HENRY RICHARD BIRD,
WITH THE BEST WISHES AND COMPLIMENTS OF THE COMPOSER.
35 Hart Street, 20th Feb., 1851.