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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    

A 241st GARLAND OF BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC COMPOSERS

I begin with Alyn Ainsworth, conductor and arranger rather than a composer as such, active in broadcasting during the latter part of the 20th Century. The only one of his arrangements to achieve publication, so far as I know, was Bedtime of Drums.

I have previously covered Arthur Grimshaw, composer of ballads and for the stage. I do not know if he was related to Emile Grimshaw who is credited with the two-step Lancashire Clogs.

Robin Milford (1903-59) studied at the Royal College of Music and went into school teaching. His prolific list of compositions includes an opera, cantatas and concertos. Some of his smaller pieces, all very lyrical, may however be reckoned as light music – three suites for small orchestra, one of them entitled Go Little Book, Christmas Pastoral and Three Airs, both for treble recorder and piano and many piano solo publications including Reputation Square and other [folk] tunes, a Waltz in B Flat (1936), Winter Sketches, Jennifer’s Jingle and Dr Johnson Diversions (1939).

Hyam Greenbaum (1901-42), violinist brother of the pianist Kyla Greenbaum and husband of the harpist Sidonie Goossens, was more of a conductor (he formed the BBC Revue Orchestra in 1939 and directed other BBC orchestras) or arranger (he orchestrated some of William Walton’s earlier film scores) than a composer. His Sea Poem and Parfums de Nuits (oboe/orchestra) achieved some success.

Ernst Toch (1887-1964), composer of chamber and other music often relying on 12-note techniques, made more money as a Hollywood film composer. He fled from Europe to the USA but, rather like Miklós Rózsa he stopped off (for a year or so) in England and there composed the score for the film Catherine the Great (1934).

Now for a few late Victorian march composers who managed to get their creations published for piano solo: J.W. Cherry with Britannica, the Pride of the Ocean; Charles D. Blake (1839-?), with Grand March, Waves of the Sea and – a Galop – Viccolo: and the Cornishman Thomas Merritt (1863-1908) whose 1902 Coronation March was unsuccessful, though it was revived in the late 20th century with some success (he also composed carols). From roughly the same period came the piano piece Sleigh Bells by Charles Calkin who is not to be confused with J.B. Calkin (1927-1905), composer of organ miniatures and a Festival March for piano and his brother George Calkin, also a composer for the organ.

Philip Scowcroft

December 2001


Enquiries to Philip at

8 Rowan Mount

DONCASTER

S YORKS DN2 5PJ

Philip's book 'British Light Music Composers' (ISBN 0903413 88 4) is currently out of print.

E-mail enquiries (but NOT orders) can be directed to Rob Barnett at rob.barnett1@btinternet.com


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