HSH Gerardus, Fürst von und zu Rheinbergen is a keen supporter of the arts.
As an accomplished musician and great admirer of good heraldry, HSH's main focus is on supporting music in all its forms as well as fine arts in the form of heraldic art.
The first section of this music page is dedicated to our Court Composer David Warin Solomons.
David is the composer of our national anthem and of many other great pieces of music indeed.
A link to his website can be found here.
David was born in 1953 to Stan and Bette Solomons, who provided a loving and supportive family and rich sources for creative inspiration. The family began life as a threesome at the RAF base at Yatesbury but Stan was soon called for duties abroad and the family moved on to the oriental delights of Hong Kong, which was where his sister Rachael was born.
The family finally returned to the UK with lovely memories and souvenirs of the Far East and eventually settled in Rainham, Kent. David and Rachael had their primary education there and Stan and Bette taught French and dressmaking respectively in nearbye Gillingham and Sittingbourne.
As parental careers progressed, the family moved through various parts of England. David had his secondary education at the Wolverhampton Municipal Grammar School (a.k.a. the Muni),where Rachael also studied and Stan taught French - it was a curious and somewhat overcrowded establishment, which was proud to announce its "50th year in temporary accomodation" while they were there! The education at the Muni was excellent and allowed creativity to flourish.
Eventually, as the family moved on variously to West Bromwich, Oadby, London and Loughborough, David returned to Oxford, his place of birth, studied French and German at Christ Church, and then went up the hill to Westminster College to do a teaching postgrad degree, compose for the college choir Song to Idleness and experience some of his first emotional confusions…
In Oxford he met lots of great musicians, two of whom had important influences on his early compositional style: the cellist Chris Benson, who introduced him to the beauties of the cello and also of the Beatles, and the guitarist Gerald Garcia, with whom he played the odd (often very odd) duet from time to time.
Of course, as singing had also become very important, he eventually picked up the knack of singing while playing classical guitar at the same time and his songs for alto and guitar represent the largest proportion of his published works even now.
He then taught English as a second language on a part-time basis in Strasbourg in a lovely hotellery school, which provided excellent food, and he continued his musical endeavours, often fuelled by further (but more fruitful) emotional confusions, in all the time that was available between teaching commitments.
This Strasbourg period only lasted 8 months and he then he had to find a job back in the UK. He taught French - and, curiously, also fencing - at Oakham School for a year, but soon realised that teaching was not for him. One useful thing he did learn to do there, however, was to play double bass in the staff jazz band: after all, it's the just the bottom four strings of the guitar down an octave, innit!
So, after giving up teaching, he moved to London in 1979 and soon gravitated to the translation service of H M Customs and Excise, which turned out to be a permanent career choice, albeit only as a way to earn enough to retire early and devote his later life to his music. Much could be said about his HMC&E translation service work, but, of course, it is subject to the Official Secrets Act, so we'll gloss over it...
His vocal sight-reading had also improved enough for him to sing at a city church and he joined the choir at St Michael's Cornhill as solo Cantoris alto and he also joined other London choirs such as the Royal Choral Society and the English Chamber Choir (for whom he later wrote a steamy number called Upon my bed by night).
Those times in London were heady days, filled with lots of brainstretching sight-reading, a little matchmaking (!), lots of champagne buffets at various luxuriously appointed guild halls, and oodles of concerts to sing in. Around 20 manuscript books were also filled to the brim with compositions of various kinds, but there were no official publications as yet.
In 1991, the translation service had to move up North, so he went with them, bade farewell to St Michael's and moved quickly into the musical life of the Cathedral at Manchester, where he sang until 2005 - sometimes with the professional choir (Statutory Choir), but concentrating mainly on the Voluntary Choir, for whom he wrote a few pieces, including a Mass for Men's Voices and organ Agnus Dei from the Mass for men's voices and organ, and the Cantata Choir, who also sang pieces of his, in particular the Manchester Magnificat and the Christmas song Alleyways.
Things then began to move relatively fast: Due to RSI, he had to stop playing guitar on a regular basis and this prompted him to write for a much wider range of musicians. Computers also finally reached a point where he could produce good quality publishable scores on them. He soon found publishers in the UK, France and eventually also in the USA and Canada.
Collaboration between musicians, both online through groups such as La Musique Petite (a MIDI based club for the old dial-up days) and the Delian Society (founded to encourage tonal composition in a world where musical academia tended to reject it) and also offline though the North-West Composers Association (now sadly disbanded) also led to an ever widening repertoire.