A 198th GARLAND OF BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC COMPOSERS
For our selections this time we return to the later
19th and early 20th Centuries. Some of them were
ballad composers, like F.S. Breville-Smith, whose titles included
The Gay Cavalier, I Go My Way Singing, Song of the Waggoner, There’s
Only One England, The Witch of Bowden and, dated 1916, Into the
Dawn, perhaps his most popular number; and J.W. Elliott (1833-1915).
Elliott was an organist at, successively, Leamington Spa and in London,
he contributed tunes to Hymns Ancient and Modern and wrote religious
songs like O Jesus I Have Promised – but there were more secular
vocal pieces too, such as his extensive volume of Nursery Rhymes
and ballads, including To The Clouds and, very popular at one
time, Hybrias the Cretan. He even bought out a musical Dar’l’s
Delight, one of the St. George’s Hall entertainments (1893).
Other figures were really composers for the music hall,
then (say 1900) at the peak of its popularity. These included Harry
Fragson (whose real name was Harry Potts), whom we recall for songs
like All the Girls Are Lovely By the Seaside, The Bandbox Girl
and, much the most popular, that hit of 1913, Hello! Hello! Who’s
Your Lady Friend? – recall, too, perhaps for occasional instrumental
item like the waltz Souvenir Tendre and for his interpolations
into musicals like Topsy-Turvey Hotel (1898) and Castles in
Another basically "music hall" man was Herbert
Darnley, responsible for The Beefeater (1898), Buying
A House, My Sweet Face and Mary Ann’s Refused Me.
Many songwriters of that, indeed other, periods, whether
of ballads, music hall ditties or whatever, are remembered for just
one song. J.A. Butterfield composed the once popular When
You and I Were Young, Maggie, but I have found nothing else by him.
And Frederick Gilbert wrote The Man Who Broke the Bank at
Monte Carlo (a celebration of a real exploit, apparently); but At
Trinity Church I Met My Doom, Down the Road, In the Good Old Times
and The Midnight March were less popular though they were still
Philip L Scowcroft
Philip's book 'British Light Music Composers' (ISBN 0903413 88 4) is
currently out of print.