(Photo of Jack Mackintosh and his famous Conn Cornet courtesy of Sheila Partridge – Jack Mackintosh’s daughter)
Jack Mackintosh plays “Una Voce” from Rossini’s Barber of Seville recorded at a live performance rather than in a recording studio. Track 9 “The Cornet King” CD1BM1
Some background information on Jack Mackintosh
Jack Mackintosh was born in Sunderland on September 22nd 1891 into a musical family, where his father conducted the Sunderland East End Prize Band. He was a more or less self-taught cornet player from the age of six years picking up a cornet fortuitously left lying around the house. He was educated at Barnes School, Sunderland and Scurry’s College, Newcastle before taking his first professional engagement at the age of 15 at the Hamilton Picture House (later the Palace Theatre) in High Street West. Here he played to the silent films twice nightly and a matinee performance for 35 shillings a week. He caught rheumatic fever in 1907, which took one year of discipline and exercise to overcome. Jack joined Hetton Colliery at the Crystal Palace in 1912 and joined the front-row cornet section of St. Hildas lead by Arthur Laycock in 1913. Jack joined Harton Colliery after they won at Belle Vue in 1919 and was their solo cornetist through to 1930. In the same year he was invited to join the BBC Symphony Orchestra and on retirement in 1952 his son Ian Mackintosh took his place in the trumpet section leaving Jack time to concentrate on teaching at the Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall.
Ewan Partridge has kindly given permission to add the following information on his grandfather.
I still play my grandfathers records today, although I never was a trumpet player or musician listening to the records reminds me of days spent at his house in Tolworth, Surrey, where even in his 70s and 80s he still practiced religiously, warming up by playing many of his 1930s brass era tunes in the large bathroom there, I have never heard anybody play a cornet or trumpet like him.
Jack had an extraordinary talent and ability, but he also had an iron like mental and physical discipline, often missing today, that made him exceptional, he was still playing football in the garden with me in his mid 70’s. Jack was also a quiet unassuming man, a perfect gentleman, but with definite opinions on most subjects, he was also a very good grandfather to myself and my two cousins, always devising new games, emptying the contents of his shed to create obstacle courses around the garden or reinventing himself as some fearsome character before chasing us.
I know from conversations with Jack that he was very seriously ill with rheumatic fever, he contracted this in his teens, when his ‘day job’ was working as a clerk in a Sunderland shipyard, and it was to some degree due to him having got wet and continuing working one day in cold damp conditions. The illness became serious, indeed life threatening, and his father took him to a priest at Tow Law Town near Durham named The Reverand C Espin, who was pioneering treatments rheumatic fever and TB, and it was he who abated Jack’s illness. I have visited the C of E church at Tow Law, where there is a stain glass window dedicated to Espin and his work.
I know my grandfather loved the north of England, from where he came, but he particularly loved Northumberland and the Rothbury – Thropton area, where he and his family returned for summer holidays for many years after he left the brass scene and came south to work for the BBC. In some ways he never left the north behind, his tastes in food were very much those of a northern English gentleman, but he drank very little, in keeping with his rigorous self discipline. Jack’s other passion was Sunderland FC, a lifelong supporter, he lived not far from Roker Park in his early years and indeed attended both Sunderland’s FA cup wins at Wembley in 1937 and 1973. He took me to my first football match in 1969, when a poor Sunderland side lost 1-0 to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and sadly were relegated that season. My grandfather also had a fascination with cars, he had his first one very early on in his working life and changing the family car was something of a hobby, he never drove and old car and changed models inside two years, always in search of perfection, he was also a bit of a horse racing tipster, but he gambled little, for him the thrill was purely the ability to pick a winner, studying the horse and its form, pigeons were another interest, but they had departed by the time I was around, the ponderous fancy breeds falling victim to Tolworth’s growing cat population.
I knew my grandfather well, he was one of a kind, not a leader, definitely not a follower, but he set us a great and unforgettable example as boys and yes he was a virtuoso, not that he would tell you that.
Ewan Partridge (grandson of Jack Mackintosh)
Angus Smith, a former pupil of Jack’s says it has been fun to reminisce and hopes the following is of interest to other fellow website visitors.
Initially I asked Angus if he had been taught by Jack at Kneller Hall?
In fact I learned privately with Jack. This would have been around 1976 and1977 when I was in my school sixth form in Kingston-upon-Thames. Initiallymy mother had approached Jack’s son to ask if he would teach me, but he wastoo busy with BBC Symphony Orchestra concerts to do so and suggested hisfather instead.
I suppose Jack must have been about 85 but he would arrive at our house in a new Renault and walk with military bearing up the front path. My instrument was the trumpet, but Jack always brought his cornet and still played it like a genius. I couldn’t honestly say that he was a brilliant teacher but I used to love listening to him play and a particular pleasure came from doing some duets with him. I also lapped up his stories of his younger days, playing for the silent movies, travelling south for various competitions, and having to make the decision along with his beloved wife as to whether or not to move south permanently.
One particular memory I have is of the little rubber tube he had to place between his third and fourth fingers in order to play. This was because the rheumatic fever he had suffered when young somehow affected him so that without the tube he couldn’t keep the fingers sufficiently apart to press the valves. This was particularly relevant when one day I showed him an old ‘early music’ cornetto which, as I am sure you know, has a trumpet-type mouthpiece but finger holes in the manner of a recorder. Jack couldn’t get his fingers to cover the holes because of this slight disability. His solution, on this extremely difficult instrument, was simply to ‘lip’ all the notes. When I mention this to cornetto players today they are staggered that anybody could do this.
At the end of each lesson my mother would bring in a huge, hot meal for Jack which he would devour enthusiastically before setting off home. Once I went to university it was not possible to continue lessons with him. I was left with an impression of a charming gentleman and a wonderful virtuoso musician. Unfortunately I no longer play (I transferred to singing) but he had a big impact on my musical life.
I was a pupil under Jack Macintosh in 1960/61 at Kneller Hall, he was as you say a fine player and while I was there played in the orchestra that recorded the music for “The Guns of Navarone”.
Jack Mackintosh played at the Sunderland Empire Theatre orchestra for many years. I believe there is still a photograph in the theatre with Jack and my father in the orchestra. I know this because my father Joe Cantor played trumpet alongside him and kept in touch with him up to his death. My father was also given the opportunity to play with the BBC symphony Orchestra but declined as he did not want to part with his family. I just thought that maybe this gap in his career information should be filled.