A 133RD GARLAND OF BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC COMPOSERS
The Victorian ballad composer Charles Marshall (1808-74)
is remembered today by one song, I Hear You Calling Me; other
song titles by him included Dear Love Remember Me, The Garden
of Allah, The Sea, I Am Longing For You, Sympathy,
When Shadows Gather and I Dream That I Hear You Singing.
Now for two more theatre composers from either side
of the Second War. Kenneth Leslie-Smith was a composer of radio
musicals (e.g. Puritan Lullaby) and theatre revues like Black
and Blue. He contributed a considerable number of songs to musicals
by others: "Throwing the Torch Away", for Noel Gay’s
successful Wild Oats (1938), "Lovely to be Loose" for
George Posford and Harry Parr Davies’ even more successful
Full Swing (468 performances, Palace 1942-3) and several for
Time to Dance (1943, 259 performances, Lyric). The shows in which
he had a bigger hand included The Sun Never Sets (1938), based
on Edgar Wallace’s ‘Sanders of the River’ adventure books and whose
hits included "Drums" and "My Love is Like the River",
Sweet Yesterday, described as a "graceful and refined score"
from which the title songs and "Morning Glory" were published
and which managed 196 performances at the Adelphi in 1945, and Bet
Your Life, co-composed with the Australian-born Charles Zwar
(Hippodrome, 362 performances, 1951-2) whose songs included "I
Love Him As He Is", "Now is the Moment" and "On
Account of a Guy". Other individual songs by Leslie-Smith were
Canterbury Fair, Little Gardens, My Guiding Star,
One Love For Ever, Ridin’ Home, Salt Water, San
Diego Betty and There’s Magic in a Song.
Ross Parker’s musical frolic Happy as a King
failed at the Prince’s Theatre in 1953 but his revues Jokers
Wild, Knights of Madness (1950) and Ring Out the Belles
(1952) did better, as did "separate" songs like Why
Not Now? (1949), The Girl in the Alice Blue Gown, You’ll
Always Be My Sweetheart and, most famous of all, There’ll Always
Be An England, jointly penned with Hughie Charles and, naturally,
a very popular and very patriotic number during the Second World War.
I have previously included in these Garlands Lionel
Salter, known, among other things, as a reviewer for "The Gramophone";
now for another critic for that periodical, Jeremy Noble, born
in 1930, also a writer and radio producer, was responsible for some
music in lighter vein: an arrangement of the Abbots Bromley Horn
Dance and a masque The Maid’s Tragedy, with music arranged
from Dowland, Weelkes, Campion and so forth.
Finally for a group of composers, all of whom, whatever
their other activities, had at least some of their work absorbed into
the Boosey & Hawkes Recorded Music Library around the 1950s. There
was S. Dicker, whose orchestral miniatures included Crown
of Joy, the intermezzo Angels and Imps and the "characteristic
piece" Cinderella’s Bridal Procession. John F. Desmond
composed Jane and Beryl and arranged a selection of
British airs under the title Musical Honours (In Vino Veritas).
Harold Ramsay produced Rodeo and Tinkerbell (for
celeste – what other instrument? – and orchestra): that this latter
was Opus 75 is an indication of his prolific output. Richard F. Howgill’s
works include, besides single movements like Galloping Hooves,
Donkey’s Delight, the oriental dance Mecca and the air
de ballet Joytime, a number of suites which have attractive movement
titles – Three Country Sketches (Pastorale, Darinee,
The Little Villager), Three Eastern Sketches (In the
Bazaar, Interlude, The Dance – a kind of Oriental
morning, noon and night) and The Nuptials (Bridal March;
Valse, Dance of the Bridesmaids; Love Scene; and
Farandole, Dance of the Guests). And, the last of this group,
Remo Lauricella, a violinist who appeared twice in the writer’s
Doncaster Museum lunch-hour concerts in the 1980s and who wrote two
sonatas for his instrument, one with piano, the other unaccompanied.
His lighter pieces included a Suite Romantique (Nostalgia,
Valse Romantique, Romanza and Printer’s Devil)
and Danza Siciliana for orchestra and the attractive African
Interlude of 1958 for violin and piano.
Philip L. Scowcroft
Philip's book 'British Light Music Composers' (ISBN 0903413 88 4) is
currently out of print.