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  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

A 155th GARLAND OF BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC COMPOSERS

This time we revert to composers for the British light musical stage, in the period prior to 1914. Virtually all the works (and their composers) I mention here had no West End productions, but that is not to say that the works did not achieve popularity. One notable example was Miss Lancashire Ltd. (1905) whose score was composed by Sydney Sydney (could that name be real?). Another touring hit was A Trip to the Highlands (also 1905) whose composer was E T de Banzie who was then musical director of the Grand Theatre, Edinburgh, where it began its run; de Banzie also composed Pim Pom, produced in Glasgow in 1890, and The Belle of the Ball toured in 1908.

Other theatre musical directors composed the occasional piece at that time: Mark Strong, with The Officers’ Mess (1905) and The Lily of Bermuda (1909), and Colet Dare, with The Girl From Japan (1904). "Singleton" composers from the period included Harry T Dickerson, whose The Girl From Corsica (astonishing how many musicals, well known or not, had "Girl" in their titles) was toured in 1904, Antonius Baker, ditto for The Houp-La Girl, Owen Trevine (The Scarlet Patrol, 1907), Osborne Roberts (The Island of Pharos, 1904), H Austin [no relation of Frederick, Ernest or Richard] (The Purple Emperor, produced at the King’s Theatre, Hammersmith, 1909) and Tom Wood [Wood was another great name in lighter music, but this one was unrelated to any others] whose The New Clown was toured widely in 1911.

Other composers managed more than one show each, often quite widely spaced in time. Clement Lochnane first appeared, modestly, with Catalina (1892) and Dorcas (1894) and followed those with The Dear Girls (1899), Where’s Uncle? toured in 1904, The Cornish Girl (1906), the "musical extravaganza" The Girl From Over the Border (with M J Lawrence, King’s Hammersmith, 1908) and the forepiece Pierette’s Birthday (also 1908), Stephen Philpot’s two significant shows were Bill Adams’ The Hero of Waterloo (1903) and The Algerian Girl (1911, revived in 1912), Harry Richardson’s were The Indian Prince, a "musical sporting comedy" (1897, inspired, maybe by K S Ranjitsinhji’s cricketing exploits) and The Girl in the Picture (1912).

Finally, for a change, to [John] Charles [James] Hoby (1869-1938), trained at the Royal College of Music, worked first in South Africa, then, in 1907 became a Bandmaster with the Royal Marines at Chatham, a position he held until he retired as a Major in 1928. His many marches included The Red Marine, Our Adjutant, Echoes of Chatham, 56th Punjab Rifles, The First Division, The Commandant and Triumphal Slow March. He also composed for the stage, chamber music, a few school songs and many miniatures for military band and/or orchestra: A Scottish Rhapsody, Lure of the Highlands, the suite, Scenes of Childhood (its five movements were A Beautiful Morning, Punch, Doll’s Serenade, A Lullaby and Play), the "morceau rococo", The Old Spinet, Twilight Serenades, the intermezzi Childhood Days and Phryne, A Russian Wedding, the polka, On Trek, the waltz, Come Closer, a Barcarolle, the Polonaise for piccolo solo and Fanfare and Chorale. His honours included the MBE, a Doctorate of Music at Oxford and the Professorship of Military Music at the Royal College of Music.

Philip L Scowcroft

January 2001

Enquiries to Philip at

8 Rowan Mount

DONCASTER

S YORKS DN2 5PJ

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 rob.barnett1@btinternet.com


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