Music Webmaster Len Mullenger
A 103RD GARLAND OF BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC COMPOSERS
Herbert Menges (1902-72) may be counted as a "holiday orchestra" conductor as he founded in 1925 and directed until his death in 1972 the Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra (for a time re-christened Southern Philharmonia, but it has reverted to its original style). However he conducted other orchestras as well, such as those in London theatres, like the Old Vic and Sadler's Wells. Indeed he composed music for Shakespeare plays put on at the Old Vic as well as a pleasing score for the play Richard of Bordeaux (1931) by Gordon Daviot (aka Josephine Tey the crime writer, whose real name was Elizabeth Mackintosh). His songs included the ballads Buckland Bells and The Little Seamstress. He studied with Vaughan Williams and Holst at the Royal College of Music.
Two other seaside conductors may be mentioned more briefly. Herbert Lodge was conductor of the Margate Municipal orchestra between 1928 and 1939 and at Worthing 1935-40 and 1946-54 and composed or arranged various orchestral items including the cleverly titled Tunelandia. Eldridge Newman, who died in 1940, conducted the Folkestone Municipal Orchestra 1928-39, having previously been at Weymouth; his compositions included the ballet suite, Les Lutins and a Dorset Suite, the finale of which, entitled "The Old Josser's Dance", achieved popularity.
In these Garlands we have sometimes spotlighted a particular year or group of years in the English musical stage. As I am writing this in 2000 it seems reasonable to look at 1900, reckoned generally a rather quiet year, at least as far as the West End was concerned. The major show of the year was The Messenger Boy by Lionel Monckton and Ivan Caryll, both giants of the early 20th Century London stage (Monckton remains to be considered in a Garland; Caryll we have discussed in Garland 97). The show attained 429 performances at the Gaiety Theatre in 1900-1.
1900 was also notable for the appearance, at the Grand Theatre Fulham and at sundry touring venues of the one stage work composed by the great Albert Ketèlbey. Herbert Farjeon was credited by Ganzl with the music for the comic opera The Registry Office, performed by the Royal Academy of Music Operetta Class in 1900, also with the one act operetta A Gentleman of the Road in 1902. Both of these had words by his sister Eleanor. However other sources appear to credit, and more plausibly so, his brother Harry with these shows. Herbert was a playwright rather than a composer (Harry was the musical one of a talented family); much later Herbert/Eleanor shows borrowed or arranged music rather than had it composed. But this is not to deny that Herbert may have been musical.
There were one or two singleton composers who did not, as far as I am aware, compose anything else. There was "Sparrow" Harris, whose "romantic musical-comedy drama The Squatter's Daughter, a piece of knockabout nonsense by all accounts, was toured provincially in 1900, as was Dudley Powell's (really Dudley Jeffs') "musical something-to-laugh-at" The Dandy Doctor. The Gay Pretenders, produced at the Globe, is tinged with sadness; first, it managed a mere 49 performances and second, its composer Claud Nugent (1867-1901), whose West End debut this was, died the following January.
Sydney Shaw's 1900 show was Little Lady Loo, which had performances at Harrogate and then elsewhere in the provinces. A theatre conductor, Shaw had previously been involved with Odd Man Out in 1897 and with contributions to The American Heiress in 1899. Herbert Dainty's His Majesty's Guests, which had hits like "Mrs Kelly" and "The Beefeater", was premiered at the Prince of Wales, Kennington and then toured. He had made his mark with Lost Stolen and Strayed in 1897; in 1902 he had two shows, Mr Wix of Wickham, jointly composed with Frank Seddon, George Everard and Frank E. Tows, and A Father of 90, but neither made the West End.
Augustus Barrett's involvement in 1900 was as co-composer (with Lionel Monckton and Howard Talbot) in Kitty Grey, which enjoyed a provincial run. His previous stage show had been The Tree Dumas Skiteers in 1898; in the new century he brought out the musical plays Little Simplicity and The Language of Notions, the revues Fancy Free and Fun of the Fayre and a number of songs which achieved not inconsiderable popularity: My Ships, The Mermaid, Six Modern Scottish Folksongs, The Number One, Someone (written for the musical The Girl Behind the Counter in 1906) and Come Away Death, for a production of Twelfth Night, of course.
George Byng we have Garlanded recently (No. 96) and in 1900 he was involved with composing two provincial shows. H.M.S. Irresponsible and Punch and Judy, in which latter he was assisted with the music by the otherwise obscure Arthur Meredyth.
James M Glover, or Jimmy Glover as he was generally known, also composed two shows which toured the provinces in 1900: the "farcical musical tersichorean burletta" High Jinks and Lolo, revised and trotted out the following year as Loloh. A genial musical director, composer and raconteur, he had been around since about 1880, composing or contributing to musicals such as Ten Minutes For Refreshment (1882), Jack in the box (1885), A Professional Beauty (1885), Kittens (1887), Regina B.A.[The King's Sweetheart] (1897) and The Yashmak (1897), but mostly these made a decidedly modest showing.
Three ballad composers to finish with. Katie Moss, who died in 1947, was violinist, pianist and singer and, if her photographs do her only a measure of justice, strikingly attractive physically (though she never married); she made her name for all time with The Floral Dance in 1911, supposed to have been written immediately after a visit to Helston, in Cornwall. She composed other ballads, none of them approaching The Floral Dance in popularity - The Morris Dancers, Come Away Moonlight and Out of the Silence are just a few. Five songs were grouped in a cycle, Dreams of Youth.
Teresa del Riego was born in 1876 of Spanish parents, but in London. After study in London and Paris, she sang frequently in public, not least in charity concerts during both world wars (she was widowed by the first). Of her more than 300 compositions, most were solo songs of the ballad type and most famous of these was Homing (1917) which is still to be heard in our own day. Other titles popular in her day included O Dry Those Tears, Harvest, Thank God For a Garden, The Reason, Slave Song and Sink, Red Sun. She also set French, German and Spanish words. Her gift of melody was outstanding, above the average for a ballad composer, and that is saying something. Finally, there was Sir Francesco Paolo Tosti (1846-1916) who was Italian, a composer and singing teacher, but he counts as English because he settled in London to teach members of the Royal Family and, doubtless in consequence, to be knighted. He composed many ballad-type songs to English, French or Italian words; if Good-Bye was the most famous, many will also remember Parted and Serenata, if no other titles.
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.
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