|Founder: Len Mullenger||
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett
A 149th GARLAND OF BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC COMPOSERS
To begin with, here are mentions of one or two more composers represented in the BBC’s "Invitation to Music" programme in 1971 (cf Garland 148) and who were active in the 1950s and 1960s.
George French, also known as Gerry (or perhaps Garry) French, composed light songs, of which Pirate Gold was maybe the most popular, and light orchestral miniatures, among them Autumn Pastoral, a Scherzo dating from 1950 and, as Garry French, a Rondo, also from 1950.
Margaret Taylor’s Summer Ballad figured in an "Invitation to Music" programme, as also did the charmingly titled Pussacaglia by Geoffrey Sayers, who was a quite prolific arranger in his day, too.
More recently, we have James Butt, who lives in Suffolk and composes for film and TV, also a considerable number of lightish songs, many of them suitable for children, and various instrumental miniatures, among them a Suite for horn, September Diary for a trio of recorders, Winsome’s Folly for wind ensemble and A Whimsy for Brass.
Now finally to another sheaf of composers associated with the British light musical stage between 1946 and 1960. Most are "singletons" like John de Grey, composer of Earnest in Tune (1958, Canterbury), one of three more or less unsuccessful musicals which emerged in the course of a year (1957-8), all based on The Importance of Being Earnest, the others being Vivian Ellis’s Half in Earnest and Allon Bacon’s Found in a Handbag (just one performance, at Margate, though it was revived once or twice). Bacon, a Worthing man, had previously composed Caste (again, oddly, one of two musicals on the same play from the same year) for Worthing in 1955. Then it ran for a week; revised as She Smiled at Me and put on in 1956 at the St Martin’s Theatre, it managed a beggarly four performances, despite the acknowledged prettiness of some of Bacon’s songs. Four performances was also the limit of Roy Phillips’ Trevallion at the Palace Theatre in 1956. Tom Chatburn was responsible for the 1955 score of The Gay Venetians, a musical version of The Merchant of Venice. He wrote no more musicals, as far as I am aware, until Oh Aphrodite received a performance at the Little Theatre Club in 1965. Kenneth Rose is not a singleton as he wrote the music for at least four musicals, Ballet Who? (1954), Vanity Fair (1960), A School for Scandal (1961) and Trilby (1962) – but all these shows began and ended their careers in Kidderminster. And lastly in this group, Robin Baker, conductor and composer, had his My Lucky Day toured in 1951. This was in fact a revised version of Under the Lilacs of four years earlier.
Philip L Scowcroft
Enquiries to Philip at
8 Rowan Mount
S YORKS DN2 5PJ
Philip's book 'British Light Music Composers' (ISBN 0903413 88 4) is currently out of print.
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