b. Victor Marlborough Silvester, 25 February 1900, Wembley, Middlesex, England, d. 14 August 1978, Le Lavandou, France. This important dance orchestra leader in the UK for over 30 years originated ‘strict tempo’ ballroom dancing. The second son of a vicar in Wembley, London, Silvester learned to dance and play the piano as a child. He studied music at the Trinity College of Music and the London College of Music, but ran away from school and joined the British Army just before he reached the age of 15. After some bitter experiences during World War I, including being a member of a firing squad that shot 12 deserters at Boulogne, he was sent home when his real age was discovered. He returned to the Front, and was awarded the Italian Bronze Medal for Valour. After the War, legend has it that he attended that very British institution, a ‘tea dance’ at Harrod’s, the ‘top people’s store’, which revived his interest in the terpsichorean side of life. After further involvement with the army, including a spell at Sandhurst, he decided to devote himself to a career in dancing. For over two years he partnered Phyllis Clarke, and they won the World’s Dancing Championship in 1922.
From Encyclopedia of Popular Music in Oxford Reference.