A 194th GARLAND OF BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC COMPOSERS
We begin with another of those present-day writers
for TV. Julian Swayles provided an attractive and unobtrusive
score for the recent (May/June 2001) BBC2 documentary series The
Mountain Men. The first of this series, dealing with the Matterhorn,
interestingly contrasted Swayles’ own music with snippets of the incidental
music of a 1930s feature film on that exploit of 1865.
Back-tracking now to the Victorian era we may mention
first the name of A. Gwyllon Crowe, a composer of dance music
including the waltzes English Beauties, Fairie Voices and Sea
Saw. Higher up the order of things in Victorian England was William
George Cusins (1833-93), trained at the Royal Academy where he later
taught, a pianist but also Conductor of the Philharmonic Society 1867-83
and Master of the Queen’s Music 1870-93. He was not distinguished as
a conductor, nor particularly as a composer. We might reckon some of
his output as light: the two concert overtures, Toilers of the Sea
and Love’s Labours Lost and the ballad-type songs The
Sailor Boy, Blow Trumpet and Oh! Who Would Fight and March?
The York-born William Creser (1844-1933) was an organist and
composer of oratorios and organ music but he earns mention here for
his Old English Suite (Lento; Vivace; Presto).
In the same way the Russian-born Albert Coates (1882-1953) can
be included for his Four Old English Dances, arranged for orchestra
by Victor Hely-Hutchinson and whose movements are Maypole Dance,
Golden Wedding, Youth and Maidens and Wedding Dance.
Reginald K Benyon, active between the wars,
is worth a mention for his orchestral Flower Suite (Dance
of the Roses; Dance of the Pansies; Dance of the Daisies)
and for ballad songs like If You Were in My Garden and Life’s
Summertime as is the roughly contemporary Dorothea Bancroft
for her African Suite and the intermezzo Arsinoe, all
for full orchestra.
Philip L Scowcroft
Philip's book 'British Light Music Composers' (ISBN 0903413 88 4) is
currently out of print.