Sheffield author writing a book on a local composer discovers treasure trove of documents in France

A Sheffield author working on a biography of local 19th century composer Dora Bright, found a Sheffield Telegraph article which proved her uncle wrote music for the emperor of France.

Monday, 2nd August 2021, 10:40 am
This document shows that Maurice Delara performed for Napoleon III, the Emperor of France, and his wife Eugénie.

Anthony Bilton, who has lived in Sheffield since 1987, found a Sheffield Daily Telegraph article from 1856 which showed that Dora’s uncle, Maurice Delara performed for Napoleon III, emperor of France and his wife Eugénie.

He found the Telegraph article, dated July 3, 1856 on the British newspaper archive, and also came across documents in France which were also connected to the Sheffield musical family.

Anthony came into contact with a woman in France who owned letters and music written by Maurice, as well as an advertisement for his performance for the French emperor.

Anthony Bilton is writing a book on Sheffield composer Dora Bright

Anthony said: “It was absolutely staggering, quite honestly. To read something in a paper from 1856 was nice to know.

“But to think that you have that piece of paper and the music in your hand, it was quite wonderful.

“I found the documents on Chris Hobbs’ website, which I came across by luck when I was searching. Chris put me in contact with a lady in France.

"I thought, ‘This is amazing, can we bring it home?’ We had some protracted discussions about its value.

Sheffield Daily Telegraph page from 1856 which mentions Maurice Delara and the document which Anthony found.

“I got in touch with the second great great granddaughter of Maurice and exchanged letters with her.”

Maurice’s descendant then bought the documents to have as a part of her family history.

Anthony added: “She will be keeping the documents in her family and loaning them to me while I write my book.”

“I’ve always loved music and I have discovered a lot about woman composers - I found Dora’s piano concerto.

A letter, written by Maurice Delana

“The first chapter of my book talks about family history. This find adds colour.

“This guy was a musician, what impact did he have on the young Dora Bright?

The original Telegraph article, regarding the news that Maurice has written music for the emperor, said: “This is a great honour, as it is well known to be exceedingly difficult to get new music admitted into the repertoire of the military bands in France, and shows the high estimation in which the musical productions of our townsman are held by so high an authority.”