A 157th GARLAND OF BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC COMPOSERS
In this Garland we concentrate again mainly on composers for the British light musical stage, primarily from the earliest years of the 20th Century.
Jesse Williams was born in England but was for many years the Musical Director of the Casino Theatre, New York, where he conducted, inter-alia, American renditions of Gilbert and Sullivan. His musical Carmita (1901) was toured in the (English) provinces. Basil Davis, conductor and composer, similarly had just one (modest) success, The Gay Cadets, also in 1901. Another apparent "singleton" was conductor/composer F Knight Pearce, whose Runaways, described as a "farcical musical comedy" with "cheerful" songs, was toured in 1902 and again in 1903. Denham Harrison wrote music for two stage shows: The Dressmaker, produced at Islington in 1902, and The Lord of the Last (1906, jointly composed with Percival Knight, whose only venture into the musical stage this appears to be) which had a provincial tour after being premiered at Worthing. Harrison’s songs included Give Me a Ticket to Heaven; he wrote monologues as well.
F Kinsey Peile was best remembered for The Belle of Cairo, which had a modest 71 performances at the Court Theatre in 1896. It was revived in 1901 and 1903, but was again a failure. It did at least achieve publication, in 1896. Another show of his, Bebe, surfaced modestly in 1901.
Andrew Ladd (1960-), who lives in Doncaster, describes his music as accessible but definitely classical. This is perhaps a fair estimate as his portfolio includes a Symphony, a Celtic Concerto, two Piano Sonatas, a String Quartet, a Flute Quintet and a Sonata for flute and guitar; however, his Toccata for unaccompanied flute and the Romantic tone picture, The Cloud Capped Mountain (for flute and piano) are perhaps rather more light in purpose. His future development may well be worth following.
Philip L Scowcroft
Enquiries to Philip at
8 Rowan Mount
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Philip's book 'British Light Music Composers' (ISBN 0903413 88 4) is currently out of print.
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