A 233rd GARLAND OF BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC COMPOSERS
I begin with Keith Strachan, conductor, keyboards
player and composer, who made a modest mark in the English musical theatre
with Shoot Up At Elbow Creek in 1976 (it was revived in the following
year) and Seraps in 1978, both first performed in Richmond, Surrey.
His name is also to be found on the "music" credits for the
popular TV programme Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?
Now for a collection of composers particularly associated
with operas/operettas/cantatas/whatever for young performers: a genre
popular during the past generation or two. James Butt wrote Autumn
Festival (1962) as well as many songs, September Diary for
recorders, a Suite for horn, A Whimsy for brass and two Winsome’s
Folly Suite for wind; Eileen Diamond wrote
The Sleepy Mandarin, The Tale of Big Chief Red Feather and Traffic
Trouble, all in 1982 (plus the songs The Toyshop and The
Market Song and Roundabouts (rounds for schools)); Muriel
Herbert wrote Come to the Zoo (1962) and Candy Floss (1964),
and various songs. Margery Dawe composed The Bremen Town Musicians
(after Grimm, 1969; she also composed orchestral music for beginners,
duets for wind entitled The Seasons and a viola solo The Lovely
Vale) and Jean Gracie brought out The Enormous Turnip,
based on a Russian fairy tale, and The Giant’s Garden (both in
1982). Several writers have based such pieces on the Pied Piper legend
immortalised by Robert Browning: John Bryan (1952-) with his
Hamelin Town, for unison voices, piano, percussion and guitar
(1981), Rip Van Winkle and The Selfish Giant. John
Rutter, previously discussed, with his The Pied Piper of Hamelin
(1983) and James Edmunds with his The Pied Piper (Edmunds
also wrote and published in the same year, 1965, The Oatcake
and The Stolen Child). And so it goes on – we may also note Pamela
Verrall’s Around the World (1973) and Johnny Appleseed,
plus songs, Six Conversations for clarinet and recorder music.
Roger Hurn’s The Brockley Jack (1981), Space
Age Noah (1982) and The Wreckers (1982). Edward Hughes’
Chanticleer and the Fox (1966, after Chaucer), Neddy the Donkey,
Snow White and many children’s songs including Songs For Aesop’s
Fables and Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox. Geoffrey Brace’s
All Aboard (1985), (Brace has also written several
books about music).
A mention now for Billy Ternent (1899-1977),
born in Newcastle-on–Tyne, violinist, saxophonist and band leader, first
with Jack Hylton, previously discussed, then as Conductor of
the BBC Dance Orchestra 1939-44 in succession to Henry Hall,
then as conductor of his own band. But he was a prolific (and excellent)
arranger rather than a composer as such.
Finally for a few more of the lesser known names of
the mood music industry, all of which wrote for inter alia KPM,
with one example each of their work: Kenneth Morrison (Mainly
Machines), Harold Collins (Bishop’s Rock), Fred
Gilbert (Down the Road), Bill Williamson (Beaten
By a Head), Harold Patrick (Strings ‘N’ Things), George
L. Salva Cruickshank, who sometimes dropped the "Cruickshank"
(Village Green) and Edwin Harrison (Momentum).
Philip L Scowcroft
Philip's book 'British Light Music Composers' (ISBN 0903413 88 4) is
currently out of print.