William Jonas Fletcher jun. – Mandolinist – Fletcher’s Standard Mandoline Tutor

Long time ago I could buy a mandolin method – Fletcher’s Standard Mandoline Tutor. I found some information about other compositions of the same author with publishing dates in the late 19th century. The method was most probably published in 1896.

Recently I found some articles about the Fletcher family in some B.M.G. magazines from 1962. I have compiled the relevant pages in the following gallery:

Biography of William Jonas Fletcher jun.

MOST FAMOUS William Jonas Fletcher, Jr.

The eldest child and easily the most famous of this gifted family was born on October 18th, 1874. His early years were devoted to the violin; indeed, in 1895 he gained an Honours Degree from the College of Violinists.

Then quite suddenly he switched to the mandolin. No doubt, as was stated officially, this was partly for business reasons but it was roumored (though it might have merely been idle gossip) that the inequitable reward elsewhere of the gold medal in a contest had a good deal to do with this abandonment of the violin.

In after years, however, he always asserted that a working knowledge of the violin gave a mandolinist a technical advantage over players lacking such experience.

He was tall, good-looking and of slight build. Though apt to fuss a little when things went wrong prior to a concert, every one in the orchestra – and indeed throughout the fretted instrument world – loved “Will,” as he was known to all.

He was married on Christmas Day , 1901, when he was twenty-seven – his wife being Hannah Hilda Grandi, a mandola player in the orchestra. He was always the star soloist at the orchestra’s many concerts and was renowned for his expressive style, admirably clear picking in fast passages and his arched wrist. Indeed the records of his solos issued in November 1901 by the Edison Phonograph Co. were considered the most satisfactory mandolin recordings until then. I wonder if any can have survived ?

He was supposed to be the first English-born player of the mandolin to make use of the extended fingerboard.

Apart from his numerous compositions (and to a sound musical training he joined the gift of melody) his repertoire was extensive, consisting mainly of Bach and Beethoven – always from the original scores. He often appeared at the St. James’s Hall and similar concerts, (starring with Cammeyer, Farland and Obregon) and his career, brilliant as it was, presaged still greater triumphs when the world of fretted instruments was stunned to learn of his death from pulmonary tuberculosis on Sunday, 16th October 1904.

Fletcher’s Standard Mandoline Tutor is available for download from the Petrucci Library: https://imslp.org/wiki/Fletcher’s_Standard_Mandoline_Tutor_(Fletcher%2C_William_Jonas)

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