|Founder: Len Mullenger|
A 180th GARLAND OF BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC COMPOSERS
Scotsman and violinist Alfred Moffat (1866-1950) is much better known as an arranger (of lashings of "old" music, from the 16th to the 18th Centuries and including many folk tunes also) than as a composer. I have however discovered a note of one piece for violin and piano, entitled On the Swing and there were surely others. His arrangements were not of the kind which would satisfy modern scholarship, but they played a part in reviving or maintaining interest in the music of earlier times and I confess I have enjoyed many of those I have encountered.
The Victorian composer F.J. Clarke concentrated on church music but his Chrysanthemum Schottisch was played by the Doncaster Orchestral Society, appropriately at a flower show, during the latter half of 1898. It was then described as his first music piece; I do not know of a successor.
Moving forward a generation or so, Graeme Stuart produced a number of light orchestral pieces, among them the single movement Eccentric Courtier and the suite Thames Castles, which comprised a processional, Tower Beefeaters, the minuet, Hampton Court and a final march, Windsor Castle, by all appearances an attractive musical trip upstream.
Finally for a group of composers active around the 1950s and 1960s and in some cases after. Leo Norman wrote miniatures for Mozart Edition Recorded Music Library: Country Lanes, Rondoletta and Overture to a Comic Opera. Norman Richardson was basically a composer for wind and brass: a Sonatina for clarinet and piano, various marches, including the Post-Horn March (1958, the official march of the Canadian Postal Corps), Scotland the Brave (1961), When Drums and Brass Make Summons (1962) and The Field of the Cloth of Gold (1967), a Countryside Suite (1969) for wind band and, for brass, the diversions on an original theme, Avalon (1967), the overture The White Company and Six Trumpet Tunes, also a lot of instructional music. James Stevens and Patrick Enfield were both noted for their lightish songs, Enfield’s often being for chorus: Mariner’s Song, The Maid of Dunstable, Suffolk Child, The Old Man From Lee, Mrs Peek-Pigeon, Sailor Harry and Jim at the Corner), Stevens' output including the solos With the Tide, Isle of Dogs and I’m So Glad to Be in London. Additionally, Enfield published quite a bit for recorders, including a Sonatina (1967) for descant and, for various consorts, Descants’ Delight (1972) and – an arrangement of 16th Century dances – Times Past, while Stevens composed for films, The Visit, (whose theme tune was arranged for orchestra and published) and for BBC radio productions around 1960 (Echo and Narcissus, Ghost-Story and The Salvation of Faust).
David Harries wrote all sorts of music but the overtures The Three Men and Cornish Overture perhaps fall into the category of light(ish) orchestral music.
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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