Music Webmaster Len Mullenger
A 102ND GARLAND OF BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC COMPOSERS
First, we have a brace of modern day composers for TV whose attractive work I have been enjoying recently (I write in April 2000). ROGER BOLTON wrote the title music for the David Attenborough feature Lost Gods of Easter Island. And SIMON LACEY was entrusted with the incidental music for ITV's re-make of The Railway Children - a hard act to follow, this, in view of the praise justifiably lavished on JOHNNY DOUGLAS's music for the 1970 large screen version. Lacey's music is, perhaps inevitably, low key, using what sounds to be a small instrumental ensemble with a solo piano prominent, but it is nevertheless pleasantly tuneful.
JOHN LANCHBERY (1923-) is best known as a conductor, especially of ballet and opera, or as an arranger of music for ballet, notably the popular La Fille Mal Gardée, after Louis Hérold, and the ballet films The Turning Point, Nijinsky and the delicious Tales of Beatrix Potter, whose music was derived from 19th Century British composers. His own compositions include scores for radio, TV and the "silent" film The Iron Horse and as a suite for brass quintet, Three Girls for Five Brass. Recently he has recorded for Chandos a collection of music by Constant Lambert.
PHILIP LANE, born in 1950, lives in Cheltenham and has a busy life as adviser and/or producer to various light music CD series, particularly those of Marco Polo and ASV. In connection with this, his realisation of film scores from the mid 20th Century has been especially valuable. He is knowledgeable about the music of Richard Addinsell and Lord Berners, amongst others and his own compositions are numerous: short choral pieces, Shakespearean songs, light orchestral compositions (including the Celebration Overture, Pantomime for strings, A Spa Overture, Wassail Dances and Cotswold Folk Dances) and works for brass band (The Bluebell Line, Praeludium, Yodelling Brass, Little Habanera, Spa Suite and A Spring Overture. His Badinages for two pianos have been recorded.
CHRISTOPHER KAYE LE FLEMING (1908-85), educated at the Royal School of Church Music, was writer, schoolteacher, railway enthusiast and, in 1971, Chairman of the Composers' Guild of Great Britain. His works included many for choir, sacred and secular; his instrumental output is mainly light in character and includes, for orchestra, the suites London River, Sutton Valence and Pilford Suite, the delectable Homage to Beatrix Potter for woodwind quintet, one of several Potter-inspired works and the piano solos Sunday Morning and Bramshaw Folly.
EDWIN HARRY LEMARE (1865-1934) became Organist of Sheffield Parish Church, now a Cathedral, in 1886, giving that up in 1892 to become a touring concert organist (in fact he died in America). His compositions were mostly for the organ - major pieces, including two symphonies, many arrangement (including one of Elgar's Pomp and Cicumstance March No. 1), light concert suites with titles like Summer Sketches, Twilight Sketches and Festival Suite and single movements, much the best known of which was the Andantino in D Flat, which was turned into a vocal solo with the title Moonlight and Roses. Much to his irritation, Lemare was often asked to play this.
SAMUEL LIDDLE was born in Leeds in 1867 and lived until 1951. He studied with Stanford at the Royal College of Music before working, with artistes like Clara Butt, Plunket Greene and W.H.Squire, as a pianist in touring concert parties. His compositions included an Elegy for cello and piano, possibly for Squire, but mostly were of the ballad type and often religious in flavour. Abide With Me was sung by Butt and can still be heard today; also popular were Arabic Love Song, sung by Count John McCormack, A Farewell, How Lovely Are Thy Dwellings and Like As the Hart. His folk song arrangements included one of The Garden Where the Praties Grow.
Next for three figures who earned their reputations mainly with light orchestras on the BBC. MONIA LITER (1905-88) was Russian-born, who also used the name ANTONIO AMADO, PAUL HAMILTON and SQUIRE MASON. He had particular skill as an arranger; his original compositions, which seem decidedly cosmopolitan in feel, included Mediterranean Suite, Harlem Suite, Two Southern Impressions (a bolero and a rumba), Serenade for harp and strings, Scherzo Transcendent (1956) for piano and orchestra, Jota and Rhumba, The Juggler, Irish Jig and Cossack Dance. These were all for orchestra; Valse Mélancholique was published for piano solo.
We have alluded in a recent Garland to MARK LUBBOCK (1898-1986) for his work in the theatre, but his horizons were wider than that. His The King Can Do No Wrong was apparently the first opera to be specially composed and broadcast for radio. His songs, like A Smuggler's Song, The Whispering Poplar and Lullaby River achieved some popularity. He worked at the BBC between 1933 and 1944 and his Concert Orchestra could be heard "on the air" for many years after 1944, playing Lubbock compositions like Saltarello, Moon Lullaby and, especially popular, Polka Dots.
ANNUNZIO PAOLO MANTOVANI (1905-80), normally known just as Mantovani, was born in Venice, but was settled in London from 1921. A violinist (his father, also a violinist, played under Toscanini at La Scala), he established his reputation as a conductor, as leader/director of the Hotel Metropole Orchestra from 1925, in the theatre (1935-80), on the BBC and in the recording studio. He is associated with the "cascading strings" motif, though its invention is owed to Ronald Binge, and after 1945 he became known as the "King of Mood Music". His compositions included Red Sails in the Sunset, Blue Sky, Serenade in the Night, Poem to the Moon, September Nocturne, Bullfrog, and, of course, Charmaine, mostly for orchestra, though Such Lovely Things as Thine made its name as a "vocal". Moulin Rouge was a U.K. chart hit of 1953. His ten pseudonyms included PAUL FRANZ, PAUL MONTY, IVAN FOSELLO and ROY FAYE.
[We have now been informed by Alan Bunting and Fosello's Grand-Daughter, Leah Hamby, that Ivan Rhuia Fosello was NOT one of Mantovani's pseudonyms, he was actually a real person and, in fact, Mantovani's pianist for many years. see also Mantovani fan site]
Finally two ballad composers. JAMES MOLLOY (1837-1909) was born in Ireland and wrote operettas and (Irish) folk song arrangements as well as ballads, titles (and many of them were enormously popular in their day) like Love's Old Sweet Song, The Postillion, Darby and Joan, Bantry Bay, Polly, The Old Street Lamp, Rose Marie, The Carnival and The Kerry Dance; several of these were included in Sydney Baynes' orchestral selection of Molloy's songs.
J. PETER MCCALL (1882-1961) knew ballads from the inside as he was the baritone singer Peter Dawson, Australian born but based in England after 1902 and prominent in opera, concert and on record. McCall was just one of twelve Dawson pseudonyms; others were PETER ALLISON and HECTOR GRANT. His most famous composition was Boots, supposedly suggested by the rhythm of a train; but there were other similar ones - Deep-Sea Mariner, The Jolly Roger, The Pirate Goes West, Route Marchin', The Lord is King and Song of the Drum - all of them eminently suited to Dawson's unforgettable vocal delivery.
Philip L Scowcroft
Enquiries to Philip at
8 Rowan Mount
S YORKS DN2 5PJ
Philip's book 'British Light Music Composers' (ISBN 0903413 88 4) is currently out of print.
E-mail enquiries (but NOT orders) can be directed to Rob Barnett at email@example.com
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