Saturday, 16 January 2016

Sivori Levey (1879 – 1924) – British Author, Composer, Actor, Pianist, Poet, Lyricist, Teacher and Soldier

Sivori Antonio Joachim Levey was born in Steyning, Sussex, UK in 1879.  His parents were Richard Levey and his wife Emma, nee Raymond. 

In the early 1900s the family lived in Oxford and Cambridge Mansions in Marylebone, London and Sivori was apparently a Civil Servant.   Sivori’s elder sister Adeline was a singer.
Sivori was an accomplished pianist.  He composed music and wrote lyrics as well as poetry. He was also an expert on Shakespeare’s plays and wrote books about how they should be presented.   With his sister Adele, Sivori entertained at concert parties and the pair seem to have toured with these groups.

In 1913, Sivori and his sister Adele gave a concert of music and recitations of poetry and stories at the Arts and Dramatic Club.  On 14th April 1914, Sivori and Adele with their friend and fellow entertainer, Maie Hoey, who made the masks Sivori used for his performances of some of Shakespeare’s speeches, inaugurated The Browning Theatre, Chenies Street, Tottenham Court Road, London with performances of some of Robert Browning’s best known works.
In 1915 Sivori was teaching elocution at the Berkshire Training College of Music in Reading.  He was Entertainments Secretary of The Concert Artistes’ Benevolent Association, a member of the London Shakespeare League and The Acting Circle.  Much of Sivori’s work, including sheet music, was published by The Fountain Publishing Company.

In the ‘Daily Herald’ newspaper of Saturday, 20th February 1915,  Langdon Everard wrote a rather scathing review of the eighth collection of Sivori’s verses entitled ‘The Little Blue Flower’ which contained a patriotic poem called ‘Britishers’.

Although he was not in the Army at the time of that review, Sivori joined the 13th West Yorkshire Regiment and was commissioned as a Lieutenant.   He was on the Western Front by August 1916, when Adele was busy touring Britain entertaining wounded Tommies.  These performances were usually followed by an invitation to the soldiers to to take tea with her and Adele soon became known as ‘The ‘Mummie’ of 50,000 Boys’.

Sivori composed and wrote the lyrics for a song called ‘The Duck Board Glide’ after being blown into a shell hole by a Toc Emma at Ypres.  Sivori took a gramophone to the Front to entertain his fellow Tommies and performed this at many Regimental concerts. Lena Ashwell’s concert parties also included the song in their concerts in France and Flanders during the First World War.

Sivori was wounded at Passchendaele and lost a leg.  While recuperating at hospital in Fowey, Sivori wrote and published a collection of poems ‘Flanders to Fowey’ (‘Ypres and Apres’) Verses of Active Service, Hospital and Convalescence by a Wounded Warrior’ which were published by the Sivori Levey Publications, 1917.
After the war Sivori continued to entertain people at concert parties.  He died in Wandsworth in 1924. 

You can read one of Sivori's poems here:

Photo of Levey at Fowey: in

Sources:  The British Newspaper Archive, Find my Past and