A 184th GARLAND OF BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC COMPOSERS
All the figures in this bunch wrote songs of either
the ballad or the music hall type about sport in the years either side
of 1900. This was an important period for the development of sport and
its institutions in Britain. The many songs written about it -not just
about cricket though it perhaps outscored all other sports in this connection
– are thus almost in the nature of social documents.
Some of the composers of sporting songs seem to have
written little else than one or two sporting ditties. Take, for example
Herbert Preston-Thomas C.B. (1841-1909), a career Civil Servant,
whose The Cricketer’s Carol, a shapely Edwardian Ballad type
number, was published in 1908 (the words were by the Right Hon. Sir
Spencer Ponsonby-Fare, a MCC member for 73 years and Treasurer of the
Club for 37). Or Claud H Hill (1870-1956), a Norwich schoolmaster
whose Cycling Song (1897) reflected the then current bicycle
craze. He is credited with religious music, chamber music and other
songs, but I have not encountered any. Or Samuel Corbett (1852-1924),
a Shropshire blind teacher and himself blind, who penned a vocal tribute
in 1876 to his fellow Shropshire man Captain Webb, The Champion Swimmer
(Webb was the first to swim the English Channel).
The name of Henry Watson (1846-1911), organist
and choral conductor, is linked with a music library collection in Manchester
and it was in Manchester that The Glorious Twelfth was published
in 1900. Watson also composed an opera, an oratorio, partsongs and other
solo songs. Herbert Schartau (1858-1915) was of Swedish extraction
but was born and raised in Kent. He became a professional singer and
tried his hand at vocal composition - ballads, like the humorous Caddie,
telling of the misadventures of an incompetent golfer, partsongs and
school songs – around the turn of the century. Harriet Kendall
(1857-1933), who spent her early life in the Lake District, studied
at the Royal Academy of Music and the Guildhall School and achieved
considerable fame as a singer, elocutionist, pianist and composer. Her
songs included the attractive ballads A Game of Tennis (1886)
and Richmond Park.
Harry Ball (1841-88) was a music hall man, father
of Vesta Tilley, for whom he composed The Newmarket Coat in 1882.
Another music hall title by him was Friends of My Youthful Days.
And so finally to Alfred Jethro Silver (1870-1935),
who was a Doctor of Music of Durham University and an organist in places
as far apart as Birmingham, Ealing and Carmarthen. Unsurprisingly, his
oeuvre included church and organ music; on the lighter side he
composed two comic operas, San Marino and King Asteroid
(1926) and the ballads A Hunting Morning (1908), The Cavalier's
Song and Growing in the Vale (1916).
Philip L Scowcroft
Philip's book 'British Light Music Composers' (ISBN 0903413 88 4) is
currently out of print.