A 216th GARLAND OF BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC COMPOSERS
We start with (William) Debroy Somers (1890-1952),
who was more of a compiler – and a prolific one, too – of medleys than
a composer as such. He was born in Dublin and was trained at the Royal
Irish Academy. He conducted various dance ensembles, including the Savoy
Orpheans and then his own Orchestra, whose personnel included pianists
Ronnoe Munro and Arthur Sandford and the violinist Jean Pougnet and
which appeared in films in 1930s. Somers figured as musical director
in many West End musical shows from the 1920s to 1951 and regularly
broadcast for the BBC and Radio Luxemburg.
Talking of musical comedies during the period Somers
was involved with them, one should at least mention the name of Nancy
Logan who was responsible for the score of The Melody That Got
Lost, produced at the Embassy Theatre at Christmas in 1936, though
she did not, apparently, write anything else, so far as I have been
able to discover.
Our ballad composer this time is E.J. Margetom,
who was also not a big producer. The only titles I have so far found
are A Song of Andalusia and, much his best known song, Tommy
Lad!, a sentimental piece of 1907 – the BBC Catalogue lists two
separate orchestrations of its accompaniment.
And so to the recently deceased Joseph Cooper (1912-2001),
known as concert pianist and recording artiste, but even more so as
the host of BBCTV’s "Face the Music" programme for which he
penned his many Hidden Melodies (setting of well-known tunes
in the styles of different composers). In addition he was for a time,
prior to the Second World War, a composer for the Post Office Film Unit,
though none of his works achieved the fame of Britten's Night Mail.
Finally for two occasional composers who collaborated
on the music of just one musical, Sunny Florida, toured in 1896
and revived in 1899 as Somebody’s Sweetheart, but to different
music by others, Edward Marris was also an actor and author,
responsible later for the books of The Dandy Doctor and The
Gentleman Jockey. Augustus T. MacInnes was a conductor and
Sunny Florida appears to have been his only significant composition.
Philip L Scowcroft
Philip's book 'British Light Music Composers' (ISBN 0903413 88 4) is
currently out of print.