Ernest Lough was a surprising star of 78s. Born in 1911 he was an unassuming choirboy in London's Temple Church when he was the soloist in an 1927 HMV recording session of Mendelssohn's recitative and aria 'Hear My Prayer' and 'Oh For The Wings Of A Dove'. The record became an unexpected hit: so much so that the master wore out and a second recording had to made in 1928. By 1962 it had become HMV's first million-selling classical record, and by now has sold over six million copies.
Somehow the record caught the popular imagination: the boy's tone is immaculate as is his diction and breath control, though I've always found most of his recordings strangely bloodless. When I was searching for records in second-hand and junk shops thirty years ago there was almost always a copy of it in the pile - always the second version, as the first is very rare despite its initial large sales.
Nowadays it seems extraordinary to think that he was sixteen when he made the recording: boys' voices break much earlier these days.
A silly legend grew up that 'the boy died' - in fact he made several more recordings before his voice broke, and later recorded a few as a baritone: he died in 2000.
None of his other recordings was the hit of 'Hear My Prayer' but they are still interesting; all are available on CD, and here I have made six transfers from my own original copies. Lough is soloist or appears with others in all of them, and all are accompanied by George Thalben-Ball. (Mouse over the list for notes).
HEAR MY PRAYER / OH FOR THE WINGS OF A DOVE (Mendelssohn) HMV C1329 (2 sides) recorded 30 March 1928
I KNOW THAT MY REDEEMER LIVETH ('THE MESSIAH') (Handel) HMV B 2656 (2 sides) recorded 22 December 1927
WHO IS SYLVIA? (Schubert) HMV B2681 recorded 30 November 1927
HEAR YE, ISRAEL ('ELIJAH') (Mendelssohn) HMV B2627 (2 sides) recorded 26 September 1927
CORONACH (Schubert) with Masters D. Horton & R. Mallett HMV B2836 recorded 24 July 1928
I WAITED FOR THE LORD (Mendelssohn) with Master R. Mallett HMV C1398 recorded 14 May 1927