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Music Webmaster Len Mullenger


This time - except for my final paragraph - I concentrate on a handful of composers active on the British light musical stage around 1920. William Neale was associated with three shows in particular, The Maid of the East (1919: notable for "Ode to the Sun" and 'Ceast and West"), Sonny Jim (1920) and Peri, The Slave of Love (1921: noted for "Love is Sinful" and "The Ladder of Love"), the first and last attempting to cash in on the British theatregoing public's preoccupation with Oriental themes; none had more than a provincial reputation. Nor did the two 1920 musicals, The World's Sweetheart and Clementina, both by Frederick T Bennett and both set in the cinema, despite their attractive tunes. At least both these composers did better than Herbert Barnes, whose one musical, Charlie Goes East (1920), had just one outing, at Redditch.

Willie Redstone was conductor and composer. He contributed songs to Now's The Time (1917) and other shows, but his big success was the operetta A Night Out, which achieved 311 performances in 1920-21 at the Winter Gardens, where Redstone was Musical Director, the song "There's One Little Girlie For Me" and a Ragpicker's Dance being especial hits. However, despite its " Jewel Song:Bijou" being published, the burlesque Faust on Toast (1921), jointly composed with the American-born Melville Gideon( who had had a modest success the year before with Cherry), was a disaster, with 14 performances at the Gaiety (plus 20 more later in 1920, after the show had been revised). Returning to 1920, when Society Ltd. appeared on the stage at the Scala, the composer of its 20 numbers, Arthur Carrington, was described as "an amateur songwriter"; but at least one of his songs, Dover Patrol, was published by Chappell. Society Ltd. managed just 20 performances, though.

Finally to the Welshman, W.S. Gwynn Williams, active between the 1920s and the 1960s, and known particularly for My Little Welsh Home, one of two Songs From the Welsh Mountains. Other solo song titles included The Apple Tree, Two Celtic Love Songs, Garden of Dreams, Night Song and Why? This prolific figure produced partsongs (like Jack Frost and Cradle Song), countless arrangements of the classics and of Welsh folk material, much religious music, even some instrumental solos, like the Welsh Playbook, a four-movement suite for piano solo, and Harp Tunes of Wales.

© 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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