A 158th GARLAND OF BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC COMPOSERS
Let us begin this time with a ballad composer who straddled the Victorian and Edwardian periods of the royalty ballad, namely Charles K Harris (1865-1930), composer of such standards as After the Ball, Break the News to Mother, I’m Trying So Hard to Forget You, Nobody Knows, Nobody Cares, There’ll Come a Time, What is Our Own We’ll Hold, While the Dance Goes On and Somewhere the Sun is Shining. Sentimental? Maybe, but these titles, and especially the first of the above, achieved a good deal of popularity in their time.
For our composer for TV this time, what about Deborah Mollison who provided the tuneful score for the Earth Story series screened early in 2001?
Now for five more composers from the days of the mid-Victorian operetta scene. Ferdinand Wallerstein, composer, conductor and arranger, wrote much incidental music for the London stage, arranged the "pasticcio" (to use a term rather outdated by the 1860s) La Vivandiere, which had words by one W S Gilbert, and composed two operettas on his own account, Quick March (1871) and the one-acter Barbazon (1877). Albert Randegger [senior, to distinguish him from his similarly named son who also pursued a musical career] was an Italian-born conductor, principally for the stage. Born in 1932, he came to England in 1854 where he remained until his death in 1911. He established a teaching practice and became a Professor of Singing at the Royal Academy of Music in 1868. He conducted the Carl Rosa Opera 1879-85 and later conducted opera at Drury Lane and Covent Garden. His compositions included a one-act operetta Creatures of Impulse, produced at the Royal Court Theatre in 1871, which became very popular and retained some of the popularity for up to a century. We may also mention some of his songs, such as Home They Brought Her Warrior Dead (1880), Save Me O God, They Say and, perhaps best known of all, Sleep, Dearest, Sleep [Schlummerlied].
Frederick E Lucy Barnes, who committed suicide in 1880 and who was married to the Savoy Opera principal Leonora Braham, is best known for just one contribution to the German Reed entertainments, Grump’s Marriage (1876). Charles G Cotsford Dick, conductor and composer, usually referred to as just Cotsford Dick, also produced much for the German Reed: titles like Our Dolls’ House, "a fairy vision in one peep" (1876, revived as late as 1892), another one-acter, Our New Dolls’ House (1877) and Back From India (1879), Dr D (1885) and The Baroness (1892) were in the same mould and had very brief runs at the Royalty Theatre. Dick’s "separate" songs included titles like Courtship Lane and, obviously Dickens-inspired, Dolly Varden; both of these may have come from stage shows.
Finally, there is Julian Edwards (born in Manchester in 1855) conducted in and composed for the stage, initially interpolations to works by others, though Le Marquis de St Valéry (1877) and Buckingham (1878), probably others as well, were all his own work. Edwards’ career appears to have taken off after he emigrated to America in 1888 as between 1892 and 1910 he had many shows produced over there. However of them only the Dickens-inspired Dolly Varden [again!] (1901) was ever seen on the London stage.
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.
E-mail enquiries (but NOT orders) can be directed to Rob Barnett at firstname.lastname@example.org