There are many Portsmouth musicians buried in cemeteries around the City, and in particular at Highland Road Cemetery. A group of enthusiastic volunteers known as the "Friends of Highland Road Cemetery," have catalogued most of the graves and the history of those buried there long ago, and listed below are some of them.
If you have any interest in the history of Portsmouth, then you will find that a visit there will be an incredible eye opener. They have regular guided tours and a web page.
Charles James MEW
Born about 1829, died January 1893 age 65. He lived in South Parade, Southsea and was a musician, composer and piano teacher and owned a piano shop in Palmerston Road Southsea. He was organist at St Anne's Church in Portsmouth Dockyard.
William James HANDLEY
A Royal Marine Artillery Bandsman died age 30 and buried in June 1889 with full military honours, but is now in an unmarked grave.
He was a hurdy gurdy man born in Italy in 1854, but died in Portsmouth age 79 in January 1933, and had played his music for Queen Victoria.
Born in 1861 he was the musical director at the Royal Navy School of music and lived in Southsea and died September 1919 age 58.
He was Bandmaster of the 1st Dublin Fusiliers born about 1860 and lived in Portsea. After a dispute and miss-understanding with a fellow soldier committed suicide in January 1900.
He was organist at St Thomas' Church and a teacher of the organ, and died age 32 in September 1898.
Baptised in St Thomas' Church in 1851 and was Bandmaster of the 3rd Battalion Hampshire Regiment. He later became a Portsmouth Music hall musician but died in July 1891 at Haslar Hospital age 39.
Thomas Robert William HUNTER
Born in 1863 in Portsmouth he died in November 1933 age 70 at the Royal Hospital. He was a soloist at All Saints Church, and then organist at St Simons and St Georges. He performed at the Guildhall, South Parade Pier and also the Princes Theatre and Theatre Royal. He taught music and composed operas and had songs published and was able to conduct an orchestra.
Henry Ernest LIDIARD
He first entered the service on 19th April 1877 as a Band Boy saying he was 15 years old but was younger born in 1863 in Devon.
He played at the opening ceremony of the first band of the Royal Naval School of Music at Eastney.
On 22nd October 1909 he became Chief Bandmaster of the Royal Naval School of Music and later Chief Bandmaster and Warrant officer of the newly formed Royal Marine Band Service at Eastney.
In 1917 he was promoted Captain, and Assistant Superintendent of the Royal Naval School of Music.
On 17th October 1919 he was promoted Major, on retirement after 42 years continuous service in the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, he was known as the “Father of the Band Service”.
Major Henry Ernest Lidiard died at Southsea on 3rd November 1951.
Samuel George SMITH
He was a Royal Marines Bandmaster, and at the Royal Naval School of Music. He died in January 1912 at Haslar Hospital.
Charles R J GIBBS
He was born in Portsmouth and died in Southsea in September 1931 age 65. He was an accomplished organist at St Andrews Church Farlington and music teacher and composer and was a Mason.
VICTOR HERBERT BURTON
He was an avid member of the Southsea Salvation Army Citadel Juvenile Band, in which he was a trombonist and was also a Life Saving Scout.
He lived at 94, Orchard Road in Southsea.
He fell ill with rheumatic fever which caused endocarditis, and died on the 1st of January 1928 age 14. The deceased lad’s Salvation Army cap and trombone were placed on the coffin at the funeral.
Born in Naples, Italy in 1871 Gaetano, came to England in the early 1890’s. An accordionists Gaetano settled in Portsmouth. Gaetano opened an ice cream shop in Britain Street. To supplement his income he would often go around the town busking and played charitable concerts mainly, but not exclusively, for the Catholic cause. He died aged 80 years at St. Mary’s Hospital and was buried in the Catholic section of Highland Road Cemetery.
Michele Valerio came to Portsmouth from Naples, Italy in the early 1890’s. Michele wandered round the country playing his tunes on the organ. In November 1901 in Haverfordwest, with a woman named Florence Peters. In November Michele shot 7 times at Florence, 3 shots hit her in the foot, head and forearm. He was quickly apprehended by the police. Florence gradually recovered.
He was before the court on the Friday the 8th Of November convicted of ‘shooting with intent to do some grievous bodily harm’ and sentenced to 5 years in penal servitude.
At his home, 33, Southampton Row in Portsea He complained of chest pains. He died of pneumonia.
ARTHUR STEPHEN BESZNAK
Arthur born on the 10th of April 1857 in Lambeth Walk London from Hungarian parents. His father was a Professor of Music and he was a talented musician himself.
Described as small in stature, at age 14 years Arthur joined his father’s old regiment, the Grenadier Guards, as a drummer boy in 1871. In 1882 he enlisted in the Royal Marines and was mentioned as being a fine player in the band. He served throughout the Anglo-Egyptian War in 1882 discharged as an invalid in 1895.
He became landlord of the Union Jack Public House at 2, Bonfire Corner in Portsea. Arthur died on the 21st of December 1904 aged 46 years.
Quinto Cecconi of 65, High Street, Portsea was buried on Saturday the 27th of October 1923 84 years old. born on 3rd of February 1839 in Malta and served in the 77th Regiment his father, Lauro, was Bandmaster. He was then apprenticed to Distins, musical instrument makers of London and then became manager of their Aldershot branch. In 1870 he brought his wife and two sons to Portsmouth and set up a musical instrument repair shop.
He was Trumpet-Major of the 2nd Hampshire Artillery Volunteers for over 20 years, playing at many of their concerts.
He died at St. Mary’s Hospital on Wednesday the 24th.
EDWARD WILLIAM SAXEY PROFESSOR OF MUSIC
Edward’s father James liked to play the piano in his spare time so Edward grew up with music. In 1864, when Edward was 15 years old, his father though him a good enough player to send him to have private music lessons with Professor A. Godwin Fowles. He obtained his first appointment as organist and choir master at St. Paul’s Church. He became a member of the College of Organists and began to give private lessons on the organ, pianoforte, harmonium and singing. He also began composing waltzes both for band music and the pianoand several church anthems ansd sold sheet music of his compositions.
In 1871 he was appointed organist and choir master at the Wymering Parish Church. After two years there he went to St. Mark’s Church in North End. Then in 1875 took up the same position at the Garrison Church.
He died suddenly on July 4th 1881 aged just 32 years.
Polly, whose real name was Mary Ann Hogan, was born in 1842 in New Zealand and toured the world singing. She was married four times. Exactly how she came to be buried in Highland Road Cemetery, Portsmouth in an unmarked grave has always been a mystery.
Lionel Douglas Vernon MOORE
Born at Fareham in July 1880 and became a bugler at Eastney barracks just age 13 and a half. A talented violinist and popular musician who performed at many local halls including Clarence Pier, and when married lived in Adair Road Portsmouth. He died age 28 in 1909.
His graveside after the funeral.