Herbert Greene

The following has been received from Peter B Green:

“My grandfather Herbert Greene played the concertina professionally and was quite well known in his day. He had a lifelong passion for it, especially the Wheatstone Duet and he played really well. I recently digitized some of his old recordings from tape and uploaded them to YouTube”.

Here is Peter’s playlist of the Herbert Greene recordings. 

In Newsletter 282 of January 1981, Herbert’s son, also Peter Greene, gave the following report on the passing of his father:

Notes on the Late Herbert Greene by his son, Peter Greene

It is naturally with sadness that I write these brief notes about my father, Herbert Greene, who passed away a few weeks ago, for not only was he a devoted family man, and gentleman, but he was, I believe, one of the finest exponents of the Duet Concertina of all time.

Dad was first introduced to the Duet by his own father at the age of ten, and quickly discovered a natural ability and love for the instrument which was to enable him to become a virtuoso as a very young man. His early memories were of playing many of the great Alexander Prince’s numbers and popular tunes of the day on horse-brake outings and local functions. He possessed an amazing memory and could remember and play these numbers in Prince’s own style right up to the time of his death.

By the age of eighteen, Dad had become a brilliant artiste in his own right and was playing National Sunday League Concerts and Masonics appearing with many of the famous celebrities of the day. His repertoire at that time included such exciting soloes as Poet and Peasant, Raymond, Zampa and Light Cavalry Overtures, the Grand March from Tannhauser, Slavonic Rhapsody and many others. His greatest asset was a tremendous appreciation of the capabilities of the big Duet, combined with an excellent knowledge of harmony and counterpoint, which enabled him to demonstrate the instrument to great effect – I know that anyone who heard him play would agree with me.

Early in the War, Dad created a double act with my late mother, playing the English, under the stage name of Herbert Greene and Marion Vane. For some twenty-five years they toured the country with their versatile act, featuring concertinas from the smallest baby English to the big Duet, Dad also playing the accordion. It is a measure of their popularity and success that they earned a good living and were never short of work. The double act included a wide range of musical taste, from popular and ‘olde-tyme’ medleys to classics, and they always received a great reception. I played with them myself on many occasions and have some very happy memories of those days.

Herbert Greene devoted the major part of his life to bringing before a large and appreciative public of several generations the instrument that he knew and loved so well, and gave pleasure to millions in the process. He was a true champion of the Concertina.

All that remains are photos, a few tapes and a heap of memories.

Peter Greene

from ICA Newsletter 282, January 1981