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Thursday, 20 August 2015

Dolores Ventura born 20 August 1921

Dolores Ventura (20 August 1921 - 14 September 2012) was a glamorous blonde whose musical accomplishments have varied from appearances as a classical violinist to playing boogie-woogie and Latin American numbers at the piano. She enjoyed a busy performing and recording career in England during the 1950s.
Dolores was born Mary D Ludlow in Einasleigh, North Queensland. Her early life was spent in the wide open spaces and she became an expert horse rider, practising around the gold mines where her father was a mine manager. Her mother was a keen musician however, so Dolores had to follow suit and she commenced taking piano lessons from the age of three.
At or around the age of 12 she was sent away to boarding school in Parramatta, Sydney where she added violin practice to her musical studies, for it was becoming very obvious that music and not the normal school lessons held her real interest.
Soon she won a piano scholarship to the Sydney Conservatoire. The violin lessons were coming along too, and she was eventually installed as first violin in the Conservatoire Orchestra. After graduation Dolores played the violin with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra for a time, but like many Australians with itchy feet, she decided to try her luck in England as a concert pianist. Already the two instruments were pulling for her services!
Against stiff competition she landed a BBC contract to play piano. The talented musician played with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Bruno Walter and many other famous conductors. She played Prom concerts too and engagements with the BBC Opera Orchestra.
She met Ivor Slaney who was at the time a free lance oboist regularly playing at Covent garden and the with the Royal Philharmonic orchestra They married in 1948 and it was during a tour of Portuguese East Africa that she first commenced to play popular music, standard melodies, jazz and Latin American music. Such was her ability at the keyboard that she had no difficulty in engineering the change.
They returned to the U.K. early in 1950 and it was around this time Ivor decided to become a composer. In 1952, Dolores, feeling a desire to play popular music  broke her contract with the BBC and concentrated upon appearances as a popular pianist. It was about this time that she adopted the stage name of Dolores Ventura. She started to appear in theatres all over the country especially the Moss Empires playing Latin American music often composed or arranged by her husband. She also had a small backing group known as the Latinnaires which included a double bass player, guitarist and bongo player.

Dolores recorded a number of records on 78, 45 and LP but during the late 1950’s decided to retire from the stage partly for personal reasons and partly because her husband was now established as a composer in TV and films..
It was after her divorce from Ivor Slaney that  Mary decided to return to her first instrument the violin and began to play on a professional basis in various orchestras around the country as an extra, namely in the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, BBC welsh Orchestra and later over three seasons with the Norwegian Opera Orchestra. 
In the late 70’s she met and married an Australian (surname Dawn) and went back to live in Sydney for 10 years before returning to the UK and living in Winchester. Prior to marrying her second husband she lived in Avington near Winchester and later in Alresford.
Whist living in Winchester she arranged and organised two chamber music groups and regularly attended summer schools in Cambridge with the Alberni string Quartet.
She spent her latter years in a nursing home in Winchester where
she died aged 91, on 14th September 2012. [1]  A regular visitor right up to her death confirmed that she kept her charisma and was up-beat right to the end. Her son Adrian Slaney gave her a wonderful send-off 28th September in a white casket painted all over with musical notes which would have made her smile.
(Thanks to Decca records liner notes and Adrian Slaney for additional information regarding the biography and main photographs)
[1] ref:


boppinbob said...

I managed to transfer a few of her 78’s to disc (thanks to Angel Radio) so here are 13 sides from Dolores Ventura plus art work, here:

1. Barcelona Boogie
2. Celebration Waltz
3. Piano Tuners Rag
4. Fluters Samba
5. Rag Of Rags
6. Calico Rag
7. Llamada
8. Hai-Hai-Hai
9. Song Of The Andes
10. Georgian Rumba
11. Two Parrots
12. Ringing The Rag
13. The Robins Return

Don Dan said...

Just for the fun.
Dolores Ventura : Party in Rio LP


boppinbob said...

Thanks Don, got this years ago on some obscure web site. I have Romantic Dolres if you are interested!

Don Dan said...

Thank you but no, there is some better music to listen to...
It was just a coincidence I had this obscure LP.