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We begin this time with a number of composers active on the English light music stage just before the Great War. Stephen Philpot wrote the scores for the musicals Bill Adams, the Hero of Waterloo (1903, revised 1912) and The Algerian Girl (1911); neither achieved more than a suburban reputation. Tom Wood, yet another light music "Wood", composed the music for The New Clown, toured provincially in 1911 12. Arthur Rigby was involved as theatre manager, actor librettist (many times between the wars, notably for two shows in which Billy Mayerl wrote the music, Sporting Love, 1934, and Happy Birthday, 1940) and as composer of That Chauffeur Chap (1911), produced in Belfast, toured provincially, and revived in 1913 under the title Mum's the Word, and The Sky Skipper (1911), a farcical musical with an aviation background, which played for just a week in Clapham.

Robert Orlando Morgan (1865-1956) was born in Manchester, and was for 64 years Professor of Piano and Composition at the Guildhall School (1887-1951). Many of his works were "classical": several cantatas, many songs, over 200 of them, including several cycles (In Fairy Land and A Song Garland were the best known), piano music and instructional publications. But many of the songs were ballad-like - Clorinda, Fair Rosalind, At Christmastide, Before the Dawn, My Gentle White Dove, Where the Lotus Blooms and When Snowflakes Dance - Charles Woodhouse arranged his Bourree and Musette for student orchestra, and in 1910 his comic opera Two Merry Monarchs ran for 43 performances at the Savoy, when its music was described as "light, bright and pleasing", but not outstandingly memorable.

Two more Morgans now, not related so far as I am aware. Reginald Morgan, active from at least the 1930s to the 1960s, composed many ballad-type songs, several of them with words of a "sacred" character, such as Count Your Blessings, Heaven Alone, Only a Few Steps Away, God Be With You and Show Me the Way, but others not, like Springtime in County Clare, Harvest, Aranmore, Deep in the Night and, probably Morgan's most popular song ( it was arranged at least twice for chorus), Shannon River. He did not confine himself to vocal pieces, though, as he also composed Shadow Song, Woodland Sunset and the waltz, Romantic Nights, for orchestra and, both from 1966, Black Sea Rhapsody and Cotswold Melody. David S Morgan, born in 1932, has arranged popular tunes for brass; his orchestral compositions include a Partita and Music for Children, whose movements are entitled Out For a Stroll, Pony Trap, Sweet Dreams and Rustic Dance.

We close with two other figures who seem to have specialised to a considerable extent in works for children. Edgar Moy, who flourished in the 1930s, brought out two musical plays for young children, entitled The Dolls and Jennie's Visit to Fairyland; other titles included, for piano solo, arrangements of Soldier Tunes and - an original composition - Studies in Musical Appreciation, whose movement titles included The Fairy Ring, The Fairy Piper, April Showers, In the Wood and The Gavotte, for piano duet the rather more sophisticated Four Scenes (Ondine, By a Lakeside, Marionette and On the March) and the partsongs the Merry Month of May (SATB) and Reverie (two-part). And Peter Melville Smith has composed much sacred music, some of it in popular style, some of it appropriate for young voices, along with a Scherzo for organ (manuals only) and the attractive Willowbrook Suite for recorder trio.

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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