A 172nd GARLAND OF BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC COMPOSERS
We begin this latest posy with a moderately long paragraph on Frederic Edward Weatherly, a West Country man, born on 4 October 1848 at Portishead, in Somerset. He took his degree at Brasenose Oxford (1871), then married and set up as a "coach", also in Oxford. After being called to the Bar, he practised on the Western Circuit from 1887, becoming a K.C. in 1925. He lived latterly in Bath, where he died on 7 September 1929. He was clearly energetic and a man of parts, his publications including children’s books, The Rudiments of Logic (1879), Oxford Days or How Ross Got His Degree (1879), Muriel and Other Poems, Musical and Dramatic Copyright and Piano and Gown: A Book of Recollections (1926). He adapted various opera libretti, including I Pagliacci and Cavalleria Rusticana. Most famously he wrote song, or specifically ballad, lyrics, possibly 3000 of them, including The Midshipmite, The Holy City, Nirvana and The Star of Bethlehem (all set to music by Stephen Adams), The Green Hills of Somerset, Stonecracker John, Reuben Ranzo, When You Come Home and A Dinder Courtship (Eric Coates), Friend O’Mine and Up From Somerset (Wilfrid Sanderson), Roses of Picardy (Haydn Wood), The Deathless Army (Trotere), The King’s Highway (Drummond) and Myfanwy (Forster). Not just that; he composed as well. Danny Boy was simply a matter of fitting a lyric to a traditional (or is it?) Irish tune. His publications include Dresden China and Other Songs and Songs for Michael; the BBC Catalogue includes mention, besides Danny Boy of Uncle John and The Blackbird as ballads where Weatherly wrote the music and, presumably, the words.
Another ballad composer was Seymour Smith – also a carry-over from our light music Smiths in Garland 170 – whose titles included Where Are You Going To, My Pretty Maid?, Love in a Cottage and the duet The Spider and the Fly, perhaps the most popular of Smiths songs.
Our present day TV/film composer this time is Robert Lockhart, whose latest score (2001) has been for the adaptations of Elizabeth George’s Inspector Lynley Mysteries.
We conclude with two rather similarly named but otherwise very different composers. Russell Stokes is known for providing much attractive educational music mainly for flutes. I recently heard his suite for a quartet of flutes, 4 For Jazz, and found it to be an entertaining concert item.
Richard Stoker was born in Castleford in 1938 and began his musical education in Yorkshire, at the Huddersfield School of Music (now Huddersfield University), but continued it with Lennox Berkeley at the Royal Academy and then with Nadia Boulanger. With such a pedigree it is hardly surprising that much of his very considerable output is "serious", in a basically tonal idiom but with serial elements. But apart from his incidental music for TV, film and theatre there are plenty of approachable pieces written with young performers in mind which for me count as light music: Little Dance Suite for recorder trio, Music For Two (also for recorders), the six pieces for piano solo, Fireworks, Soliloquy for solo flute, Three Paraguayan Dances and a number of musical theatre pieces.
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