|Founder: Len Mullenger|
A 165th GARLAND OF LIGHT BRITISH MUSIC COMPOSERS
A travel through the theatres around 1900 forms the basis of this Garland. Several of the names we recall were, once again, musical directors for the stage. Arthur E. Godfrey (1868-1939), for example, of the celebrated Godfrey family, discussed as an entity in an early Garland, who contributed to the musical Lost, Stolen or Strayed in 1897. In the following year he had a major success with Little Miss Nobody, which achieved 200 performances at The Lyric. Godfrey wrote the songs Highland Sport, which was published separately, and Why Should We Part? specially for John Coates, who was imported into the cast after the start of the run. Godfrey also published many drawing-room ballads like A Fairy Fantasy, The Happy Isle, Lord of the Sea and Stand United. Other theatre conductor/composers included Charles W. Johnson, who "arranged", probably part composed, in 1899 the music for Somebodyís Sweetheart, a revision of a show variously entitled Sunny Florida and The American Girl. Arthur Meredyth contributed to Punch and Judy - otherwise composed by George Byng - in 1900 and who, jointly with Thomas Hunter, recently discussed, provided the music for Odd Man Out (1897). He contributed in 1899 to The American Heiress, the music for which came from a five-man co-operative. Besides these people the remaining four were Guy Jones, brother of Sidney and previously discussed, Edward Dean, whose biggest moment this appears to have been, Herbert Simpson and Frank Lambert.
Simpson had, as far back as 1889, composed a musical, Little Tom Bowling, whose provincial tour began in Gainsborough (Lincs). Later he provided music for Cupid & Co. in 1894 (this was actually a seven (!) composer co-operative) and, with Henry May and John Crook, both previously covered, for Nana in 1902. Lambertís one "solo" show was the comic opera Ladyland, taken off after 15 performances at the Avenue Theatre in 1904. Its miserable failure appears to have been owed to its book rather than the music and certainly Lambert had a good reputation as a writer of ballads. Like so many of these, he was attracted by nautical lyrics, for example A Barque at Midnight, Farewell, Thou Out-bound Ship and the popular She is Far From the Land. Other Lambert ballads included Come to My Heart, Forethought, Love in Absence, Rose Aylmer, The Song of the Mill Wheel, Godís Garden, I Gave My Heart to You and The Night Has a Thousand Eyes. The last three of them also achieving especial popularity. He composed instrumental miniatures, too, a Valse Caressante being perhaps the best known of these.
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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