A 151st GARLAND OF BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC COMPOSERS
First here is another comb-out of people who composed, however briefly, for the British light musical stage, this time basically from the 1920s. Inevitably, most of these have only a single work to their credit, as far as my present knowledge goes: H Lytton Norman and his Carmello toured through the provinces in 1921; Leonard K Lennard, who was also a conductor, with The Ruby Pendant (1921); Ernest Woodville, with The Buccaneers, also in 1921; Cecil Webb-Johnson, with The Early Girl (1923); Herbert Barnes with Charlie Goes East, produced in Redditch in 1920; and William J Stafford, with Playmates in 1929. None of these shows reached the West End. However, the Australian-born Dudley Glass did rather better as The Beloved Vagabond (1927) achieved 107 performances at the Duke of York and New Theatres and The Toymaker of Nuremberg managed just 32 at the Kingsway in 1930. Glass was still composing in 1951 when Moonraker’s Ride appeared, but it did not progress very far.
As our TV/film composer this time, here is a brief mention for Richard Blackford, whose most recent score (I write early in 2001) has been for the Channel 4 documentary, The 1940s House. Some of the music for this comprises songs of the period (which the writer can clearly recall!), but some has been especially composed and attractive enough it is, too.
I have long deliberated whether to include the name of the minimalist composer, Michael Nyman (1944-), in these Garlands. One could debate this for a long time, and a long-drawn out piece like the railway music MGV is, for all its accessibility, perhaps a negation of the concept of light music; but I think a case could be made out for some of Nyman’s film scores, of which The Piano (1992) and Wonderland (1999), at least, have achieved much popularity away from the screen, perhaps also his ballet scores and cabaret songs.
Philip L Scowcroft
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