|Founder: Len Mullenger|
A 148th GARLAND OF BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC COMPOSERS
I will begin this latest bouquet with a correction, or perhaps an amplification. In Garland 56 I speculated - though not very positively – that a Victorian dance music composer named Prout, active around 1880 might have been Ebenezer of that ilk, musical scholar, compiler of editions of Messiah and other oratorios and composer of, in my experience, rather attractive "classical" music. This speculation would now appear to be unlikely as the full name of the dance music Prout appears to be Edwin H Prout whose compositions, besides the valse Dream of the Past noted previously, include a set of Bachelors Lancers, whose cover I have seen.
Now for a group of composers active in the 1950s and 1960s, whose music was, in general, still played in the early 1970s but is now in danger of being forgotten. Much of this paragraph relies on a sheet of performances (in the possession of Ernest Tomlinson) on the BBC’s ‘Invitation to Music’ Programmes for 1971. William Bowre published lightish partsongs for mixed voices such as Three Masts and Cowboy Song and orchestral movements like the Cuban Heel Dances. Alan Clare, whose real name was Alan Jaycock, also wrote songs (Mirage was perhaps the most popular). Several of Clare’s light miniatures (John o’ Groats, Eternal Waltz, Screwball, Toujours Paris and Descansado) were published for piano but some at least were for orchestra.
Some of the figures on Ernest’s list were known particularly for one light orchestral number. Raymond Harvey for his Five Dances, Ronald Duncan (no relation of Trevor, whose real name is Leonard Trebilco) for Three Scottish Sketches (not to mention several arrangements like the Classical Songs for Children), Geoffrey White, another prolific arranger, for Pastorale, George McIlwham for Highland Gathering, and Brian Douglas for his attractive eight minute Music for Strings. Hamilton Green was known for his percussion solos with orchestra, Jovial Jasper and Valse Brillante; Peter Hodgson, another prolific arranger, aspired to write symphonies (No. 2 appeared in 1957), but also composed Fanfares for wind ensemble and, for orchestra, Elegy and Concert Piece for Light Orchestra. Much of Leo Norman’s orchestral music was done for Mozart Edition: Country Lanes, Rondoletto, Overture to a Comic Opera and an Intermezzo for strings. One or two of these titles sounded familiar to me and unsurprisingly so as Leo Norman is better known by his pseudonym David Lyon, previously dealt with in this series.
We will end with Stephen Dodgson, who is reckoned a classical composer, albeit an approachable one, with many concertos, a symphony for wind band and much chamber music to his credit. Born in 1924, he studied at the Royal College of Music where he later taught. But quite a lot of Dodgson’s music is definitely "light", as we have sought to understand it in this series: several operas for children, The Eagle for wind band, the Worbeck Dances for recorder and harpsichord; an Idyll for strings; and incidental music for a considerable number of radio plays and features, among them The Beaux Stratagem, The Legacy, Love for Love, Macbeth and a Journey to London.
Philip L Scowcroft
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Philip's book 'British Light Music Composers' (ISBN 0903413 88 4) is currently out of print.
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