Music Webmaster Len Mullenger
A 115th GARLAND OF BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC COMPOSERS
Some of our garlanded composers have been schoolteachers who have usually composed just a few pieces of a lightish character for their charges. Another such is Arthur Goodchild, music master at Mexborough Secondary School in the 1940s, whose one piece I have found was the Four Yorkshire Miniatures, respectively titled Prelude, Ilkla Moor (several composers have been inspired by this Yorkshire " national anthem", or the hymn-tune Cranbrook, as it was originally known, including Eric Fenby and Sam B.Wood), The White Rose, Steel and the final march, Men of York.
Terence Greaves has produced a considerable amount of lightish vocal and instrumental miniatures. At least two are parodies of classical composers: Beethoven's Fifth Bossa Nova for wind quintet, and Rimsky's Rumba for brass quintet. A Garden of Weeds is an engaging sheaf of five songs for soprano, B flat clarinet and piano - others of his vocal pieces include carols, songs for children and Arachne, a musical play for girls. For piano solo he published the Moon Miniatures and Changing Moods, both in several movements, and, for three flutes, the Dance Trios.
Guy Fletcher may or may not have been related to Percy Fletcher ( 1879 - 1932), but like him and also in the first few decades of the 20th Century, he certainly composed popular short orchestral miniatures, of which we can exemplify March Cortege and Moorland Larnent.
Now for three turn-of-the-(19th)-Century composers notable - among other things for their contributions to the English light musical stage. First, John William Ivimey, Essex-born (1867 - 1961), who studied at the Guildhall School and was an organist and a music master at two public schools, had The White Blackbird (1898) and The Lady Lawyer produced, as well as being responsible for some more serious music. George John Learmont Drysdale (1866 - 1909), born in Edinburgh, conductor and composer, has been described as a Scottish Grieg, and is remembered (if at all) for his almost totally neglected serious operas, but the comic opera, The Red Spider, toured through various provincial theakes in 1898, the incidental music to Hippolytus and his overtures, especially Tam O' Shanter and the early (1890) Overture to a Comedy entitle us, I think, to include him among these Garlands.
Edward Jones was not, I believe, related to Sidney (or Guy) Jones, nor did his achievement as a composer equal Sidney's, but he was around on the English light music stage as conductor and composer for perhaps longer. His musical, Fairy o' Five, appeared in 1885, June Magic in 1926; inbetween came much incidental music, much of it written for the Princess Theatre, where he was musical director for several years - the musical comedy, A Pantomime Rehearsal (1891), the musical farce, A Near Shave (1895), The Prince of Borneo (1899), the " musical extravaganza", The Thirty Thieves (1901), The West End (1902), which however never reached the West End, the "musical fantasy", Where Children Rule (1909), and a revue, Champagne. None of these was a major success. His "separate" songs included The Candid Man, The Cockney Tragedian and the Waxwork Show.
Finally two cmpsosers associated with North West England. Maragret Wegener, born in 1920 and still active, has composed in addition to more serious works, a concert overture, Renaissance (for the Festival of Britain in 1951), a Jubilee March (1977) and Pipers All for wind quintet. Her idiom is lyrical and approachable, and ence suited to lighter repertoire. So was that of Bolton-born Thomas Baron Pitfield, orn in 1903 and recently deceased, and his conciseness of expression also helped in at direchon. Several of his many "concertinos" are airy and attractive- more obviously light music are the Bits and Pieces, Humoresque, Little French Suite and t e English Suite for piano solo, Minors, a dance suite for piano duet, Conversations Suite and Gracefill Dance, both for clarinet and piano, Song of Rest for accordion o o, Keele Garland for stnng orchestra and the Three Nautical Sketches for recorder and piano (or orchestra).
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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