03 June 2022

Eli Hudson, 1877 - 1919

Eli Hudson

Flautist and founder member of the London Symphony Orchestra and New Symphony Orchestra.

Hudson was born Eli Hudson Rennison, the illegitimate son of John Capstack Hudson and Emma Rennison, nephew of violin maker George Hudson, and grandson of Richard Hudson, known as "Dick o' Newlaith", one of the group of amateur Lancashire musicians called the "Larks of Dean".

John Capstack Hudson was a musician in Skegness and it was there that Eli grew up and was soon, even as a child, recognised as a piccolo virtuoso. At the age of fourteen, in the 1891 census, his occupation was given as "musician". A few days after the census, his parents were finally married in Ilkley. A year later Eli's sister Winifred ("Winnie") Dagmar Hudson was born in Skegness.

In 1895 Eli won a scholarship to study flute at the Royal College of Music in London, This lasted three years and he left with an ARCM. While there he met fellow student Eleanor Tydfil Jones, a soprano from Merthyr Tydfil, and they were married in in Chelsea in 1899. Eleanor's career did not come to an end, and she continued to sing as Eleanor Jones-Hudson.

Eleanor Jones-Hudson

Eli and Eleanor had three sons: Richard Henry John Hudson (1900-?), Hubert David Rennison Hudson (1902-1957) and Alfred George Dunning Hudson (1904-1989).

In 1904, Eli became a founder member, and flautist, in the new London Symphony Orchestra. In the same year he made his first flute and piccolo recordings for the Gramophone Company, taking part in concerts where the recording was played and followed by a live performance.

The following year, 1905, Eli and the clarinettist Charles Draper also became founder members of the New Symphony Orchestra. Another gramophone concert was given in December 1906 in the Royal Albert Hall including Patti, Melba and Caruso on record, and Eli in person. The recordings were amplified using the compressed air auxetophone.

The year 1907 saw the issue of a new record featuring Eli and his sister Winnie both playing piccolos in the "Concert Polka". The same year saw him advertised widely as the "King of Flautists".

January 1909 brought a new venture, planned for some months. Eli and Eleanor were already used to touring the country and, on occasions, performing in music halls. The Hudson Trio, comprising Eli, Olga (Eleanor) and Elgar (Winnie), made their first appearance at the London Coliseum. This was the first of many similar appearances the trio made across the country.

'Eli, Elgar and Olga'

On 30th April 1914 at the Holborn Empire, the Hudson Trio gave the first performance of the song The Sunshine of your Smile.

The outbreak of the Great War a few months later didn't greatly affect Eli, but on 3rd January 1917 he enlisted as Private 764433 in the 28th Battalion of the London Regiment (Artists Rifles) at Chiswick Town Hall. On 31st August he was appointed Second Lieutenant, 46th Anti Aircraft Company of the Royal Garrison Artillery.

The end of Eli's life came quickly in the months after the end of the war. He died of carcinoma of the  liver or stomach at Queen Alexandra's Military Hospital, Millbank, Westminster, on 18th January 1919. He was buried at Highgate Cemetery East two days later.

On Eli's death, Eleanor gave up her career and returned to live for the rest of her life at 13 Cromwell Street, Merthyr Tydfil. She died there in 1945.

In November 1919 Winnie Hudson married Timothy Adolphus O'Sullivan in Liverpool Register Office. She had already borne a child in 1917, the father being Ernest Richard Oscar Ferguson. Winnie and Timothy were divorced in 1921 and she died in London in 1957, using the surname Ferguson.

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