Sir Vivian Dunn - Stories from the graves

This month we are pleased to return to our series of Walstead Burial Ground features and tell the story of a world famous musician, composer and Military Band leader. Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Francis Vivian Dunn KCVO OBE FRAM FRSA was the Director of Music of the Portsmouth Division of the Royal Marines from 1931 to 1953 and Principal Director of Music of the Royal Marines from 1953 to 1968. He was also the first British Armed Forces military musician to be knighted.


By Claire Cooper
Francis Vivian Dunn was born on 24th December 1908 in Jabalpur, India. His father, William James Dunn, was bandmaster of the Second Battalion King’s Royal Rifle Corps and later director of music of the Royal Horse Guards.
     Dunn studied piano with his mother, Beatrice Maud, and undertook choral studies in Winchester. In 1923 he attended the Konservatorium der Musik in Cologne while the family was in Germany with the Army of the Rhine, and on returning to England two years later he went to the Royal Academy of Music.
     He studied conducting with Henry Wood and composition with Walton O’Donnell. As a violinist, he performed in the Queen’s Hall Promenade Orchestra (under Wood) and in 1930 was a founder member of the BBC Symphony Orchestra with Sir Adrian Boult.
     Dunn was released from his contract with the BBC and on 3rd September 1931, aged 22, commissioned as a lieutenant in the Royal Marines to be director of music for Portsmouth Division of the Corps. This appointment also carried with it the responsibility of directing the Royal Marines Band on the Royal Yacht. He took part in the royal tour of South Africa in 1947 aboard HMS Vanguard and in a Royal Marines band tour of the US and Canada in 1949.
     His appointment as Principal Director of Music of the Royal Marines, the subsequent promotion to Lieutenant-Colonel and election as a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music were all achieved in 1953. Later in the Coronation year, Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh embarked in SS Gothic for a world-wide tour of the Commonwealth, for which Dunn directed the accompanying Royal Marines Band.

Read full article on pages 30 & 31