The LSO in World War I: Robert Carrodus

The fifth blog in our series exploring the Members of the LSO who served in World War I tells the story of violinist Robert Carrodus.

We don't actually know very much about violinist Robert Carrodus's life as a soldier in World War I – we think he served either in the West Riding Regiment (Private #15043) or the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment (Private #31874)**, but can't find a definite link to either of the related medal cards – but while we were researching him we came across a very specific piece of information which gave us another piece of the puzzle of how the LSO as an organisation coped during the conflict.

Robert CarrodusRobert Carrodus was born in 1871 in Camden Town into a very musical family. His father John Tiplady Carrodus (1836–1895) was a well-known violinist and teacher of the day, undertaking solo engagements and leading the opera orchestra at Covent Garden. He played the "Carrodus" violin, one of Giuseppe Guarneri's last del Gesù violins to be made in Cremona in 1743 – the violin is known as one of the finest still being played today, and is currently in the possession of Richard Tognetti, Artistic Director of the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Read some of the violin's story here.

John and his wife Charlotte (1838–1889) had 10 children in all, with several of their sons entering the music profession. The database of Royal Society of Musicians members lists Ernest Alexander Carrodus (b. 1858, double bassist and violinist), Bernhard Molique Carrodus (b. 1866, violinist and violist – named, it seems, for John's teacher with whom he had studied in Germany), John Frederick Carrodus (b. 1867, cellist) and William Oliver Carrodus (b. 1869, flautist) and Alfred Latham Carrodus (b. 1875, cellist) as well as Robert (who it appears was not an RSM member). Further on there is also Hubert Waring Carrodus (b. 1896, violinist), and Gladys Hamilton Carrodus (b. 1901) appearing in the database – these could perhaps be children of Robert's brothers.

Several Carrodus family members played with the LSO as well as Robert: his elder brothers Ernest, the double bassist, and John (Jack), the cellist, were both founder members in 1904. Robert joined the Second Violins in 1909 and was promoted to the First Violins in September 1914, following the resignation of a colleague. He and his wife Euphemia, whom he had married in 1894, had three children – twins John Tiplady (named for Robert's father) and George William, born in 1896, and a daughter Effie Margaret, born 1900. He lived to the ripe old age of 96, and died in 1966 in Southend.

Robert is an important part of the LSO story because his actions reveal that not everyone involved in the War was completely heroic in their intent! In September 1914, the LSO's Board received letters from trumeters Sydney Moxon and Ernest Hall, who had joined the Army and were requesting that their jobs be held open for their return. Their patriotic action was commended, and the Board passed a resolution "that Members who have joined the Army for the duration of the War be exempt from paying deputies fees, and their positions held open." The important sentence there is "exempt from paying deputies fees". The LSO was founded out of a dispute with Sir Henry Wood at the Queen's Hall Orchestra about the ability to send a deputy along to play in a concert in their place, should they find a more desirable or lucrative engagement. The LSO's 'Musical Republic' status enabled this practice to continue so that members could have greater freedom in their careers. The resolution to exempt Members in uniform from paying for their deps was therefore of great significance, and a substantial financial commitment on behalf of the Orchestra.

Notes from the Board Minutes regarding Robert Carrodus

However, the Board was soon to regret their generosity. In October 1916 the Board received a letter from Robert Carrodus, asking as he was now enrolled for service and in uniform, whether he was now exempt from paying deputies fees. His request was granted, and he was judged not responsible for the payments. However, just a few weeks later another entry in the Board minutes revealed that this was now being reconsidered: "in view of the fact that he was attending his engagement at the Savoy Theatre nightly". He had been taking advantage of the system – the resolution was passed to cover men who were away on training duties or fighting at the Front, not simply for them to accept orchestral work elsewhere in London without financial penalty!

The resolution was revoked, and Robert was forced to pay his debt to the Orchestra, probably not before time as a few months earlier, in February 1916, the Board minutes record the Orchestra's financial losses and contain the first suggestion that the LSO stop performing their own promotions until the War ended – more of which to follow in a future post!

How can you help?
We'd love to know a bit more about Robert's activities during the War – do you know with which regiment he served? Do you know if he fought at the Front? Are you related to Robert, or know of any of his living relatives? Do you have any photos of him, or the LSO, during the war? Can you help us fill in Robert's page on Lives of the First World War? If you can answer any of the above questions, please do get in contact with our archivist Libby Rice on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

* Update November 2014
We were delighted to be contacted by Robert Carrodus' Great Granddaughter Barbara Carrodus. Barbara told us 'Grandpa Bobby' had only one grandchild and two great grandchildren, her and her sister. She also told us that Robert's daughter Effie was a pianist working as an accompanist at the Royal Academy of Music.

** Update May 2016
Thanks to Julie Warren, who contacted us about Robert Carrodus having come across him while researching people buried in her local cemetery. We now know that Robert served in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment (Private #31874). He is mentioned in the War History of the LNLR 1st/4th Battalions on page 149 as a member of company B, and that he was wounded on 3 July 1918. Unfortunately there are no further details on his service or circumstances under which he was wounded.