Desmond Carter

Herbert Desmond Carter (15 June 1895 – 3 February 1939) was a British lyricist who worked with George and Ira Gershwin, Ivor Novello, and others, and also wrote one of the first English language versions of the notorious "suicide song", "Gloomy Sunday".

He was born in Bristol. In 1924 he wrote most of the lyrics for the London musical Primrose, for which Gershwin wrote the music, his first commission outside the US. The musical was revived in 2003, when one reviewer wrote:

"...by far the most outstanding contribution to Primrose is the comedy lyrics of Desmond Carter, who penned the words to seventeen of the score's twenty-two songs and collaborated with Ira Gershwin on four of the remaining five. Two among them, "Isn't It Horrible What They Did to Mary, Queen of Scots" and "That New Fangled Mother of Mine," shine with humor and wordplay worthy of Noel Coward."

In 1936, Carter wrote English lyrics for the song "Gloomy Sunday" ("Szomorú vasárnap"), which had been written by Hungarian composer Rezső Seress with lyrics by László Jávor. Carter's lyrics were performed and recorded by Paul Robeson, whose recording was successful although most later versions of the song used alternative lyrics by American writer Sam M. Lewis.

Carter also collaborated with leading English popular composers of the period, including Ivor Novello and Noel Gay. He died in London at the age of 43.

Birth and Death Data: Born June 15th, 1895

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1928 - 1935

Roles Represented in DAHR: lyricist, composer

Recordings

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor BVE-41527 10-in. 1/9/1928 Little boy blues Melville Gideon Male vocal solo, with orchestra lyricist  
Victor BVE-67789 10-in. 1/13/1931 The wind in the willows Connecticut Yankees ; Rudy Vallée Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo lyricist  
Victor BRC-70998 10-in. 12/22/1931 Springtime reminds me of you Richard Crooks Tenor vocal solo, with orchestra lyricist  
Victor BS-76074 10-in. 5/2/1933 My temptation Fred Astaire ; Leo Reisman Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo composer  
Victor BS-92998 10-in. 8/20/1935 I'm on the see saw Fats Waller and his Rhythm Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo lyricist  
Victor BS-95338 10-in. 10/5/1935 I'm on a see-saw Little Ramblers ; Ward Pinkett Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo and vocal ensemble lyricist  
Columbia W151182 10-in. 12/27/1930 The wind in the willows Ipana Troubadours ; Sam Lanin Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo lyricist  
Brunswick C5072 10-in. 1/2/1930 Don’t say goodbye Leroy Carr Male vocal solo, with guitar and piano lyricist  
Gramophone 0EA707 10-in. 12/12/1934 I'm on a see-saw Jack Jackson Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo lyricist  
Gramophone 0EA708 10-in. 12/12/1934 Dancing with a ghost Jack Jackson Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo lyricist  
Gramophone 0B1256 10-in. 7/2/1931 O cara mia Jack Hylton Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo lyricist  
Gramophone 0B2484 10-in. 12/9/1931 The pied piper of Hamblin New Mayfair Dance Orchestra ; Ray Noble Jazz/dance band, with male vocal trio lyricist  

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Carter, Desmond," accessed October 19, 2020, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/107400.

Carter, Desmond. (2020). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved October 19, 2020, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/107400.

"Carter, Desmond." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2020. Web. 19 October 2020.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/107400

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