Music Webmaster Len Mullenger
111TH GARLAND OF BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC COMPOSERS
We begin with two musicians who successively played the superb Compton organ, dating from 1934, which was once a feature of Doncaster's Gaumont Cinema (now called Odeon) and who both broadcast on the BBC. Hebron Morland, a native of the North-East, was Organist of the Gaumont 1934-46, from 1942 combining this with being Manager of the cinema. He was succeeded by Con Docherty, who came to Doncaster after wartime service in the R.A.F. Both arranged and composed, Docherty writing a popular song for young Gaumont-British enthusiasts.
While we are talking about films we may suitably introduce the name Miklos Rozsa (1907-95). "Rozsa", I hear you exclaim with surprise. "Surely he wasn't British; he was born in Hungary and composed in Hollywood, all those films like Spellbound, The Jungle Book, Ivanhoe, Ben Hur and so on?" Well, yes, he was and he did, and his serious compositions also merited respect; but he did in fact live in London between 1935 and 1940, when, besides composing a ballet, Hungaria, for the Markova-Dolin company, he started on the film with, inter alia, scores for the Korda films Knight Without Armour (1937) and The Four Feathers (1939), based on the famous novel by A.E.W.Mason. When Korda went to America Rozsa followed and the rest, as they say, is history.
Raymond Henry Charles Warren, born in Weston-Super-Mare in 1928 and educated at Cambridge University, is best known for his more serious contributions to British music - orchestral, choral and chamber works and his academic posts at Queen's University Belfast (1955-72) and Bristol University where he became Professor in 1972, but his accessible, basically diatonic idiom is well suited to lighter music of which we may instance the orchestral Wexford Bells, the Music for Harlequin, a serenade for woodwind, brass and percussion, dating from 1966 and incidental music for no fewer than eleven W.B.Yeats plays.
Adrian Francis Cruft, born in 1921, as another whose traditional idiom stood him in good stead when he wrote in his lighter style, which he often did. As examples of that we may cite The Duke of Cambridge Suite, Three Bagatelles for wind trio, the Stratford Music for wind quintet, Stilestone Suite for piano solo, Prelude and Dance and Prelude and March, both for double bass and piano, the intriguingly titled Horse Trough Fantasia for brass quintet, the Scherzetto for violin (or harmonica) and piano and, for orchestra, Partita for Small Orchestra (1951), Country Suite, the Traditional Hornpipe Suite, perhaps the best known of his lighter effusions, and several suites arranged from baroque masters like Purcell and Couperin. Educated at Westminster School and the Royal College of Music, he, like his father Eugene, who died in 1976, played the double bass, for most of the London orchestras.
Finally two composers noted for their prolific compositions for students (and others).
Desmond Macmahon, born in 1898 (his date of death is unknown to me), produced A Northumbrian Suite, for oboe and piano (or strings), sets of Danish, Swiss, American and Norwegian dances for piano solo and Western Trail: A West-Bound Wagon Train, for mime and music. Macmahon also composed much vocal and choral music, sacred and secular, but again most, indeed perhaps all, was suitable for amateurs.
Colin E. Cowles' compositions, mainly published in the past two decades, include, besides purely instructional exercises, a considerable number of short, light and entertaining pieces, some for orchestra, but mainly for wind instruments; Recit and Air, Spree, Blacker and Blues, A Miniature Suite and Scherzino are for saxophone (basically the alto instrument) and piano; the attractive variations on the traditional tunes I Will Give My Love An Apple and My Love She's But a Lassie Yet (I have heard the former recently in Doncaster) are for unaccompanied alto saxophone. For flute and piano he has published Three Sad Moments, Three Melodies, Cantilena and Paganini Hoe-Down. The Set of Four in Popular Style is laid out for the standard saxophone quartet, Swing 5 deploys no fewer than five saxes and Paeon calls for no fewer than seven B Flat clarinets. Cowles' music is, one fancies, excellent to play, but surely audiences like it, too. Cowles lives in Somerset.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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