Harold C. Gee and his Maritza Players

Harold C. GeeViolinist, Harold C. Gee was a familiar name to radio listeners as far back as the thirties when he and his orchestra would fill many a half-hour with light music, often with a guest singer. For many years he gave live performances from his home town of Bournemouth, sometimes providing orchestral concerts, but in later years, playing the violin in late night recitals, often accompanied by the cinema organ.

By the 1940s, the orchestra had become known as the 'Maritza Players', a title inspired by Emmerich Kalman's gypsy operetta 'Countess Maritza', and as the orchestra's signature tune was 'Play Gypsy', from that same operetta it will be apparent that the ensemble was formed to specialise in the gypsy music that was very much in vogue in the thirties. Harold C. Gee, who even called his house 'Maritza', discovered quite early on that, by coincidence, there was another violinist called Harold Gee performing in the Bournemouth area. So, to avoid confusion, he asked the BBC to insert a 'C' into his name — apparently his middle name was Cecil. Fellow musicians called him Harold Squeegee! As a session musician Harold was much in demand and elsewhere on this website the reader will find a picture of Anton and his Orchestra in which he is seen sitting next to accordionist Gerald Crossman.

Harold contributed to many programmes during the fifties and was often heard in 'Morning Music'

In 1961 he gave the first of 51 performances in 'Music While You Work'. One possible reason why the Maritza Players were so late joining the MWYW team was that gypsy music was not considered very suitable for the programme, so Harold C. Gee played mostly familiar standard light music in the series, but with plenty of tangos and paso dobles to reflect the idiom. While the musicians were changing their music between pieces, the pianist would play a few bars of 'Play Gypsy' leading into the next number. After some thirty years of reliable service, the Maritza Players were dropped from broadcasting in 1966, along with many other studio orchestras. There were, sadly, a number of officials at the BBC who regarded these little orchestras - the Maritza players consisted of fourteen musicians - as 'past their sell-by date'. If their performances were re-broadcast today, they would be like a breath of fresh air. That which is good doesn't date!

Harold C. Gee died in 1973 (my thanks to his son Brian for this information).

My last memory of him is an appearance he made in a Benny Hill television show as a violin-playing tramp — not the most auspicious way to end a distinguished career!

Click here!
Listen to 'Music While You Work'
played by Harold C. Gee and his Maritza Players
as broadcast at 10.31 a.m. on 18th January 1964

MUSIC WHILE YOU WORK on 18th January 1964
played by Harold C. Gee and his Maritza Players

Calling All Workers (sig)
Bravo Bravo
Little Senorita
Song of the Gaucho
Brise de Paris
Song of the Sea
Tango of the Violins
Lady of Spain
Kiss of Fire
Calling All Workers (
Eric Coates
Bernard Monshin
Cyril Watters
Albert Delroy
Tolchard Evans
Albert Marland
Eric Coates

Click here!
Listen to Harold C. Gee and his Maritza Players
playing 'Sacramento' by Frederic Curzon
(60 second clip)

MUSIC WHILE YOU WORK at 3.31 p.m. on 20th. May 1965
played by Harold C. Gee and his Maritza Players

Calling All Workers (sig)
Live, Laugh and Love
You're Breaking my Heart
Spanish Violins
Cafe Bonheur
Poverino Mio
Media Noche
Autumn Leaves
Two Guitars
In Chambre Separee
Calling All Workers (
Eric Coates
Kenneth Baynes
Helmut Zacharias
Peter Kerry
Henry Krein
Gerald Crossman
Eric Jupp
Bernard Monshin
Frederic Curzon
Eric Coates

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Text by Brian Reynolds : e-mail brian@mastersofmelody.co.uk