Classical MusicWeb

Music Webmaster Len Mullenger


The first bloom in this bouquet is a man who is more of an arranger than a composer. John Longstaff was born in Lancashire, and studied at Cambridge University and the Guildhall School, since when he has held various posts in the musical theatre, most recently with the Northern Ballet Theatre, for whom he has made reduced orchestrations for their reduced size orchestra ( 20 to 30 players) - Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, Giselle and Don Quixote, all popular and existing ballet scores - also of the opera Eugene Onegin. Longstaff's own ballet scores include Carmen, based on Bizet's music, Great Expectations(2000), adapted from Dickens' novel, which uses a wide range of Elgar's music, and - his own composition - Dorian, a full-length ballet based on the life of Oscar Wilde.

John Powell has achieved fame for his recent score for the animated cartoon film Chicken Run: a kind of sequel to the Wallace and Gromit series for which, as we have seen, Julian Nott provided the music.

Finally, for a group of present-day composers who are particularly noted for their instructional music which, as I have heard many times, can make attractive, tuneful items in a concert situation. Peter Kneale has published songs, but is best-known for his pieces for brass players: Jazzamatazz, the Variations on a Welsh Theme (actually Watching the Wheat) for tenor horn, and a Quartet. Peter Nuttall's speciality is music for guitar solo, of which we can cite as examples, Inside Blues, Twelve Bar Blues and Celebration. By contrast, Christopher Norton is a non-specialist, as he has published both for voices (notably Sounds Natural, a World Wildlife Song Book) and for instruments. Many of the latter items have a jazzy, or at least up-tempo, flavour. Examples are Carol Jazz, Cloudy Day and Slow Mambo for piano, a Jazz Quartet for brass, Steam Train Blues for recorder and piano, Stepping Out for oboe and piano, and a whole series of publications entitled Microjazz, for nearly every conceivable instrument. Nina Perry's compositions include a play for children, Marquis of Carabas, or Puss in Boots, sundry unison songs, and a set of twelve light pieces for piano, Through the Kaleidoscope. And Robin Grant, who lives in Wolverhampton, has tried his hand at opera and serious concert music, but is perhaps best-known for his lightish educational music, one example of which is the trumpet and piano piece, The Station Dash - "train music" maybe?

Philip L Scowcroft

Enquiries to Philip at

8 Rowan Mount



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

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